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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Your Daily Pesuk July 11, 2018

 Matot-Masei /  מטות־מסעי

  • Wed, 11 July 2018 = 28th of Tamuz, 5778
  • כ״ח בְּתַמּוּז תשע״ח


In Today's pesukim we finish Parasha Matot and begin Parasha Masei.  Within this transition from one portion of the Torah to the next the tragic story of Reuven & Gad's request to inherit the Land on the East Side (Transjordan), continues.  Even though they do keep their promise to fight along side their brothers for the conquest of Canaan - it should be seen as "tragic" considering that they chose Land that was NOT part of God's initial PERFECT PLAN for Israel His people.  Sometimes God's permissive will is exercised, however the end result is usually not good at all.  

In this case we can see the full story, and how much later in Israel's history these tribes (including Manasseh) fall victim to idolatry and extinction altogether.  Along with Manasseh, these tribes ultimately chose to live and reside "OUTSIDE ERETZ YISRAEL" and thereby they were exposed more to the idolatry of the Gentiles surrounding them, and this lead to their ultimate demise.  Tragic choices.

In his essay, Redeeming Relevance (Numbers), Rabbi Francis Nataf says, "The territory to the east of the Jordan River was not designated as part of the original Promised Land. It was neither where the forefathers sojourned nor inhabited by the seven Canaanite nations that God planned to expel.  

Rather, it became part of the Jewish homeland as a result of a rather unusual turn of events: the land’s inhabitants were vanquished after trying to attack the Jews. The default expectation, however, was that the Jews would continue their march on to their own homeland on the western side of the Jordan while other nations would eventually take the place of the vanquished peoples on the east. 

Instead, the tribes of Gad and Reuven requested to settle it, ostensibly to find ample grazing for their livestock. While initially taken aback, Moshe eventually grants it to them with the stipulation that they participate in the war of national conquest on the western side of the Jordan. Even from this thumbnail sketch we see that the hasty annexation of these lands lacks the pedigree evident in the settlement of the Land of Israel proper. When we focus on the details, however, we will truly appreciate the actual ambivalence of the Jewish tradition toward this territory.

Moshe’s conversation with the leaders of Gad and Reuven is not an easy one. To say that he is initially upset with their request would be an understatement. Perhaps most significant is Moshe’s allegation that Gad and Reuven are a new version of the infamous spies whom we know from Chapter Two. The reader will recall that it is they who caused the Jews to remain another ­thirty-eight years in the wilderness, as well as almost the entire adult generation of the time to die during that period. As we discussed at that point, there is reason to describe this as the worst calamity suffered by the Jews in the desert, and perhaps in all of Jewish history. To compare Gad and Reuven with the spies, then, is to place the strongest of accusations at their doorstep.

Upon reflection, it is difficult not to share Moshe’s surprise at the audacity of Gad and Reuven’s request. Especially in view of the incident of the spies, the centrality of the Land of Israel should have been so clear as to make their request only slightly short of heresy. Moreover, the wording of their request, “Do not bring us over the Jordan,” sounds as if they may well have been rejecting the Holy Land which the spies had rejected earlier....

It is important to realize that the bottom line of the anti-Israel movement (i.e. to choose to live elsewhere) is resistance to God’s plan for the Jewish people... Given what we have seen, we should not be surprised that the rabbis are highly critical of Gad and Reuven, and point out (Bemidbar Rabba 22:7) that their “rush to inherit land is connected to their being the first to be disinherited.”...

In our study, we noted how both Gad and Reuven came to their tragic preference for Transjordan due to discomfort with their God-given positions. Reuven didn’t know how to be a firstborn who was unequipped to be a leader; Gad didn’t know how to be in a group where it would be disadvantaged because of its lack of pedigree. We are all challenged by situations that are not of our choosing. Some are born into families into which they don’t “fit.” Others find themselves with responsibilities they wish they didn’t have. Still others are stuck with an image that they would prefer to dispel. There are many things that can be changed, and many others that cannot. One’s adaptation to undesired, unavoidable circumstances is often the most significant factor in his success. We are all familiar with stories that illustrate this point: crippled athletes or wounded veterans who find new careers with passion and enthusiasm, to name but two.

Reuven and Gad’s predicaments are actually the stuff of everyday life. Their tragedy is really the tragedy of all who become defined by their circumstances. No one is given a life where everything falls into place magically. It is our task to take control of our lives regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves. Ultimately, the failure of Gad and Reuven is that they neither coped nor adapted. Via their tragic, downward spiral, the Torah seeks to warn us about what can happen when we don’t take control of that which is in our power. That it happened to them should remind us that it need not happen to us."

Are you unhappy with your life and do you want to take control of the circumstances you are in?  If you do - then be warned - you better make sure your choices line up with God's Ultimate Perfect Plan for your life - you may just end up turning your back on Him altogether.


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