Kli Yakar Numbers: Matot
The Children of Israel are about to enter the Promised Land. The leaders of two of the tribes, Reuven and Gad, approach Moses. We are told that they were wealthy with cattle, presumably their share of the massive spoils of the just-finished battle with Midian. They suggest Moses should let them inherit the land they had conquered from the impromptu battles with the Amorites on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
Moses is shocked by the request. Had they learned nothing from the sin of the spies? Did they wish to bring punishment and destruction upon all of Israel for their recalcitrance, for their refusal to enter the long sought-after land? The two tribes offer that they will lead their brothers in the conquest of Canaan, leaving their women, children and cattle behind in the pasture-rich land they saw and rejoin them once the conquest is complete. The Tribe of Gad leads the discussions with Moses. Moses finally agrees.
The Kli Yakar is troubled by Gad’s display of leadership. Reuven was the eldest of the tribes. Gad was amongst the younger ones. The Kli Yakar states that Gad was out of place in speaking before the eldest. He explains that it was because of their wealth. Gad was wealthier than Reuven and apparently one of the wealthiest tribes. That gave them the confidence and the gall to speak out of turn. To push themselves ahead of those wiser and more learned than themselves. To force themselves into situations that were inappropriate and that would lead to anguish in future generations.
May we learn to speak in turn, from both wealth and humility.
To the memory of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. We were just reminded of my family’s visit to him 21 years ago, which was really cool.