Parsha Lights – Matot
The following verses continue to describe a petition by these tribes to Moses, asking that they be allowed to settle in these territories rather than proceed with the rest of the nation into the promised land.
Moses was a bit horrified by the request. However, it did not seem to trouble him that the tribes of Reuben and Gad were relinquishing their portions in the promised land. His concerns were the discouraging effects this would have on the remaining tribes.
“Moses said to the children of Gad and the children of Reuben, ‘Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here? Why do you dissuade the heart of the children of Israel from crossing the land that Hashem has given them?'” (Numbers 32:6-7)
Moses went on to recall the spies, who had discouraged the people from crossing into the land. This had roused the wrath of God and caused a delay of 40 years in the wilderness. Moses was concerned this was happening all over again.
The tribesmen of Reuben and Gad then pledged their full and active military support in the conquest of the land. They took upon themselves to spearhead the campaign and vowed not to return to their families and homes until the conquest was over and the people were settled in the promised land. Moses then acceded to their request and they were allowed to settle east of the Jordan river with the condition that they would fulfill their pledge.
Knowing that Reuben and Gad would be there with them was all it took to turn around the effects of this ‘abandonment’ of Reuben and Gad. Many Jews today choose to live ‘on the other side of the Jordan.’ Many of us live overseas, away from the challenges facing the largest block of our people in the promised land. Moses is angry at us. “Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here? Why do you dissuade the heart of the Children of Israel…!”
If we but give our assurance that we pledge full support of our fellow Jews, if we provide encouragement, offering our help and campaigning on behalf of our brothers and sisters in the land, we will mollify Moses and assuage his concerns.