Parshas Matos Masai

This Shabbos we read Parshas Matos and Masai. In Parshas Matos the Torah relates a remarkable incident that occurred just as the Jewish people were about to enter the land of Israel. The tribes of Reuven and Gad had an abundance of cattle. They asked Moses if they could stay on the Eastern side of the Jordan, where they would have fields that were suitable for their livestock. Moses at first felt that they were looking to avoid the upcoming battle with the Canaanites in the land of Israel, and he rebuked them for causing fear in the hearts of the other Jews. They explained that they had no intent of avoiding the war in Israel, and intended to join the war like all other Jews. “Pens of sheep we will build for our livestock, and cities for our children. We will go out armed and go before the Jewish people,… (Numbers 32:16) When Moses replied to them and accepted their offer, he told them “Build cities for your children and pens for your sheep…” (32:24) Why did Moses reverse the order that the tribes of Gad and Reuven had used?

Our Sages teach us that Moses was teaching the Jewish people a most important lesson. Priorities must be treated as priorities. Our agenda has to be first and foremost to care for our children. Afterwards, we can focus on our careers. When we talk about our jobs and our children, the first item is our children. Afterwards we can talk about our jobs. How often do we see people who get so overwhelmed in pursuit of their careers, that they never see their family? How often is the development and happiness of our children thought about? True, we must work to provide for the needs of our family. However, that can’t allow us to lose focus of what is most important. May we all have nachas from our families, and focus on what is truly important.