Israel Forever

For the week ending 10 July 2010 / 27 Tammuz 5770

First Things First

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
When the tribes of Reuven and God negotiated with Moshe for receiving their portion of Eretz Yisrael on the already conquered east side of the Yarden, they offered to participate in the conquest of the rest of the Land.

"We shall build pens for our livestock and cities for our small children," they promised, "and we shall not return to our homes until the Children of Israel have all inherited their Land."

When Moshe repeated their offer he put things in a different order: "Build for yourselves cities for your small children and pens for your flock."

Rashi points out that the petitioners were more concerned about their possessions than about their sons and daughters and Moshe subtly told them to put first things first and first care for their children.

As the secular public in Israel painfully struggles with the shortcomings of its educational system there is a powerful lesson to be learned from the Torah portion we will read this Shabbat. Focusing primarily on the material development of the Jewish State has somehow left behind the mission of communicating values to the young. Only by putting first things first will we succeed in securing Israel forever.

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