In this week’s parsha, Mattos (2nd to last in sefer Bamidbar (Numbers)), we find that the children of Gad and Reuven approach Moshe with a request. They take note that the land in which they are presently sitting, (that of Og, king of the Bashan, and Sichon, king of the Ammorites), was a very good grazing land “and your servants have flocks”.
Like all good Jews they were always on the lookout to find that which was good for business!
All joking aside it’s not a bad request. We all know that we need parnassah, (Hebrew for “a livelihood”), and therefore looking out for the needs of our parnassah is not a bad thing! That’s just what the children of Gad and Reuven were doing!
However, I’m sure that if we had asked them “What are you doing all of this work for?” they would certainly answer “I’m doing it for my family”. If we are truly willing to take a good look at ourselves I’m sure that we would all agree. What am I working so hard for? For my family, of course!
But the truth tends to be stranger than fiction. I would, therefore, like to forward the following platitude:
Ask yourself the following:
Am I so busy living my life that I don’t have time to stop and learn/think how it should be lived?
We find, upon scrutiny, that the children of Gad and Reuven, despite their aforementioned priorities, tell Moses that “We’ll build fences for our livestock and houses for our children”. I’m sure they didn’t put all that much thought into how they said it, but the Torah and our sages, ob”m, point out that their subconscious was speaking to them through their words.
When we set out to do something we are supposed to put that which is most important first, no?
However, the reality of life is such that many times, because we are so involved in doing — we forget why we were doing it in the first place! So, too, with the children of Gad and Reuven. So Moses tells them “Get your priorities straight! First build homes for your families and children then you can build fences for your flocks.
How many of us, despite protestations that that isn’t the case, are so involved in the work that we do for the sake of our families that we, also, forget to spend time with them? How many of us, despite declarations as to the importance of Torah and Torah learning, are too busy living our lives to actually sit down and do some serious learning?
How many of us are too busy living life to learn how it SHOULD be lived?
It’s something to stop and think about.