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Torah Portion of Matot - What has Priority?

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Numeri 30:2-32:42

A portion of this week's Torah Parasha deals with the request of the tribes of Reuben and Gad to leave their part of the land east of the Jordan. Moshe objects to the request because he believes that the tribes will not participate in the conquest of the Land of Israel; the tribes clarify that they will be the vanguard in the attack and are therefore granted permission.

For Noahides

Moses the greatest leader and Prophet here gives Reuben and Gad a repremand. That they want to stay in the land east of the Jordan because they do not want to fight with their brothers - even though G-d is the One who gives the victory, it will have a negative effect on the morale of their brothers. However, Reuben and Gad were right to want to stay in the land, because they were sheep herders and the breeding of sheep was not permitted in settled areas of the Holy Land.* By staying in this land, they could best perform their task, for HaShem. However, they should have formulated their request the other way around. First they should have said that they would join the fight and then they would like to return to this land. Their first priority should have been their brothers/family (psychological well-being) and only then their worldly business of making money - even if it was for G-d.

We see this reversal of priority again in the story:

Then they (Reuben and Gad) came to him and said: "We would like to build sheepfolds for our flocks and cities for our children. (Num. 32:16-19)

Moses answered, "Build cities for your children and sheepfolds for your flocks, but do what you have promised" (Num. 32:24).

Sheep, wealth, material things, is the way of the world and not necessarily wrong, but the priority should be on the children first (education, psychological well-being) and only then on things.

Is it allowed for a Noahide to earn a lot of money, to have a good job? Yes no problem, but from the above story we can filter a few important points. You have to do your work for G-d. As a nurse or a teacher it might not be so difficult to do, but what if you are a successful businessman? You must always realise that you are placed in a place where you can make a difference. As a businessman you might meet a lot of people, every meeting could show something of G-d. For example by saying a Bracha, or giving Tsadeka etc. However, whatever work you do, work should never become so important that you forget your family, your partner, your children or your relatives. We should always have our priorities in the right order.

Brought By Angelique Sijbolts


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners en intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.



Aish Articles: 125552368 4897331 Priorities

* Baba Kama 79b


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