August 21, 2017 ~ Shabbat SHOFETIM. Maqam AJAM.

Shabbat Matot


ערים לטפכם וגדרת לצנאכם - When Reuben and Gad see the fertile land east of the Jordan River, they are enamored and petition (Numbers 32:16) "We want to build (1) pens for our flocks and (2) cities for our children." In response, Moses reverses the order of their requests (32:24): "Build (1) cities for your children, and (2) pens for your sheep." The Midrash understands this reversal as a rebuke for not having their priorities straight; valuing their possessions over their children. These tribes seemed to value the assets that add to their income (i.e. livestock), over the assets that did not (i.e. children). When they heard Moses' response, however, the message of getting their priorities straight was understood. In correction, Reuben and Gad affirm that (32:26) "(1) Our children... (2) our livestock... will be there." Only after Moses sees this correction does he grant their request (32:33) for the land. Beth Torah Bulletin, July 22, 2017.