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    Reuben & Gad – Mattot

    Reuben, Gad & half of Manasseh ask for land on the east of the Jordan

    On the way to the Promised Land the tribes of Reuben and Gad and part of Manasseh approach Moses for permission to remain outside the land’s boundaries. “Do not bring us across the Jordan,” they say (Num.32:5).

    Their motivation seems to be separatism but in fact it is cattle. They are so concerned with their prosperity and their animals that they fear to go any further.

    Moses is tough with them: “Shall your brethren go on with the struggle while you sit here?”

    Moses – as Jewish commentary tells us and Pinchas Peli spells out in one of his essays – feels that their priorities are wrong. It is not that he minds them being rich but he is annoyed that they want to opt out of the national task.

    It reminds us of the reaction in our own day when Jews are told that the Jewish future is more in commitment than comfort.

    “Concern yourselves more with your fellow Jews and less with your affluence,” is the Moses-type answer.

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