ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Hasty Inheritance and Baseless Hatred

הרב זכריה טובי
ראש הכולל

The children of Reuven and the children of Gad had abundant livestock – very great ... They said, "If we have found favor in your eyes, let this land be given to your servants as a heritage; do not bring us across the Jordan." Moshe said to the children of Gad and the children of Reuven, "Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here?!" (Bamidbar 32:1-6)

Moshe Rabbeinu does not object to their dwelling in the Trans-Jordan. His entire complaint is about their lack of willingness to participate in the capture of the Land, as he says later on: "The land shall be conquered before Hashem, and then you shall return – then you shall be vindicated from Hashem and from Israel." (32:22) The question is: How did Moshe agree to their settling in the Trans-Jordan, whose sanctity is less than that of Eretz Yisrael, as indicated by the fact that the omer and two loaves (of Shavuot) are not brought from there?!

In Sefer Yehoshua, as well, when the children of Gad and of Reuven build an altar on the bank of the Jordan River, Pinchas the priest turns to them and says: "If the land of your possession is contaminated, cross over to the land of Hashem's possession where the Sanctuary of Hashem is, and take your possession among us." (Yehoshua 22:19) Pinchas calls the Trans-Jordan a "contaminated" land, so how does Moshe allow them to dwell in this land without a directive from G-d?

The question becomes even stronger when we read Moshe's blessing to the tribe of Gad: "He (Gad) chose the first portion for himself, for that is where the lawgiver's plot is hidden; he came at the head of the nation, carrying out Hashem's righteousness and His ordinances with Israel." (Devarim 33:21) It is not enough that Moshe does not view their settling in Trans-Jordan as something wrong, but rather he praises their place, as the Trans-Jordan is the place where Moshe is buried – "where the lawgiver's plot is hidden" – and, furthermore, "carrying out Hashem's righteousness" when they went out to fight with Israel to capture the land. How could this be?!

Rav Dessler, in his work, Michtav M'Eliyahu, explains that there is no doubt that Moshe knew through ruach hakodesh that the proper share of Gad and Reuven is in the Trans-Jordan, and their request to settle there was not sinful at all. Precisely because they had large flocks, this was G-d's present to them, so that it should serve them as tools for the service of Hashem.

Similarly, we find in the Midrash on our parsha:

"For G-d is the Judge – He lowers this one and raises that one." (Tehillim 75:8) Proof is, when He wanted the children of Gad and of Reuven to become wealthy, He defeated the Midianites before Israel so that they should become wealthy. What does it say earlier? "Bnei Yisrael took captive the women of Midian ... and all their cattle and flocks and all their wealth they took as spoils," and, afterwards, "The children of Reuven and the children of Gad had abundant livestock." Thus, G-d lowered the Midianites and raised Bnei Yisrael.

Thus, the abundant livestock of Gad and Reuven was a present from G-d from the property of the Midianites, and this property was granted to them by G-d to serve them as a tool for the service of G-d. Their economic power was to serve them to achieve spiritual goals.

The Midrash comments there: "Three presents were created in the world. If one merits one of them, he takes the desire of the entire world. If he merits wisdom – he merits everything; if he merits might – he merits everything; if he merits wealth – he merits everything. When is this so? When they are gifts of Heaven and come with the power of the Torah." If a person sees in wealth a Divine gift and understands that the goal is the service of Hashem, then he merits everything. But if a person uses the wealth for the purpose of enjoying this world, about this it says, "Riches hoarded by their owner to his misfortune." (Kohelet 5:12) Similarly, Yirmiya says, "Let not the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom ... let not the rich man glorify himself with his wealth." (9:22)

The sin of the children of Gad and Reuven was in regards to this point: "Pens for the flock we shall build here for our livestock and cities for our small children." (32:16) They make the priority into the subordinate, and make the subordinate primary. They cherished their possessions more than their family, as the Midrash notes. "A wise man's mind [tends] to his right, while a fool's mind [tends] to his left." (Kohelet 10:2) Moshe notes in their words love of money, which leads them astray and causes them to place the livestock before their children. He therefore corrects them: "Build for yourselves cities for your small children" – first, and afterwards – "pens for your flocks." (32:24) Moshe knows through ruach hakodesh that their proper place is in the Trans-Jordan, but this is only if they see their abundant flock as a tool to serve G-d, and not as wealth for the purpose of pleasures of this world.

Therefore, Chazal apply the verse in Mishlei (20:21), "If an inheritance is seized hastily in the beginning its end will not be blessed," to Gad and Reuven, as Rashi writes there: "Such as the children of Gad and Reuven who were hasty to take their share in the Trans-Jordan and spoke hastily ... They make the primary subordinate by placing their livestock before their children. ' Its end will not be blessed' – they were exiled a few years before the other tribes." Chazal see in Gad and Reuven's haste to take their share some interest that is not for the sake of heaven. Rather, they want this place for the purpose of money and not for the purpose of serving G-d, which disturbed Moshe Rabbeinu.

If we examine the verses carefully, we note that Gad and Reuven do not mention G-d's Name even once in their words. They separate themselves from any Divine help, as the Abarbanel notes on the parsha. On the other hand, when Moshe responds to them, he mentions G-d's Name a number of times, so that they should understand their mistake: "Moshe said to them ... 'If you arm yourselves before Hashem for battle, and every armed man among you shall cross the Jordan before Hashem ... and the land shall be conquered before Hashem ... this Land shall be a heritage for you before Hashem." (32:20-22) This brings them to understand their mistake, and they respond to Moshe, "Your servants shall cross over – every armed person of the legion – before Hashem to do battle." (32:27)

A person's great wealth can serve as the greatest tool for the service of Hashem, provided that he understands the precious gift that G-d entrusts in his hands to do kindness, to give charity, and for other spiritual purposes. But if, G-d forbid, a person turns his money in a negative direction – this gift turns into a hindrance. This is true not only in regards to the person himself, but also in regards to others. It is something that can lead to fights and baseless hatred, as the Yerushalmi comments about the destruction of the second Temple: "In the Second [Temple] we recognize that they toiled in Torah and were careful in [their observance of] mitzvot, but they loved money and hated one another baseless hatred."

Love of money means that the person loves himself. He does not see the others around him, and this causes him baseless hatred. What is this comparable to? To a person who has glass in his window. When the glass is clear, if he looks out he sees the people outside, and if someone needs help, he can go over and help him. However, if a person were to put silver foil on the other side of the window, he will see only himself. Sometimes, silver and love of money can lead to baseless hatred.

During the period of the three weeks – the days of the destruction of the Temple, which was destroyed on account of baseless hatred – we must strengthen our unity and the love of one another, as Rav Kook writes: "The Temple was destroyed on account of baseless hatred, and it will be rebuilt through baseless love." Amen.

 

 

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