Matot: Settling for More

May we merit to welcome more of our brothers.

Aloh Naaleh,

Arutz 7
Which category does the mitzvah of living in Israel fall into: those that are between us and HaShem, bein adam l'makom, or those between us and our fellow man?

At first glance, I'd think that settling Israel, which the Ramban says is a positive Biblical commandment, is between us and HaShem. G-d said it's the best place for Jews to live and some of us have decided otherwise.
If we have 10 million Jews here, the load gets divided more evenly.

But this week's Torah portion says that it's not that simple. When two tribes, Gad and Reuven, approach Moshe with a request to remain on the other side of the Jordan, where the grazing land is better, he says, "Will your brothers go to battle [over Eretz Yisrael], and you'll sit here?"

The Netziv comments on this verse: "This is a sin against B'nei Yisrael, that you [these two tribes] should get a land that has been conquered by others, and they should endanger themselves in war."

I have a son who, at this writing, is doing reserve duty along the northern border. Frankly, it couldn't have come at a worse time for him. He's got finals and his lecturers are reviewing with his classmates the material they need to know for the tests. He'll get a chance to do a make-up test, but obviously no one will review the material just for him. He also had to give up a special project at work that comes with a nice bonus.

It's hard enough that he's got to leave his wife and baby son for a month. And that a 25-year-old who spent more than four years in the IDF, who was an officer in Golani and fought in Gaza and Lebanon, is denied an opportunity to prepare for his exams once he finally gets the chance to go to school. But what's really upsetting is that he and his soldiers are doing 12-hour shifts because there aren't enough people showing up for reserve duty. The good guys who show up for reserves have to work harder, bringing to mind Moshe Rabbeinu's rebuke, "Will your brothers go to battle, and you'll sit here?"

The reality is that whether a million or 10 million Jews live in Eretz Yisrael, we need the same number of soldiers patrolling along the borders and preparing for possible war. It's just that if we have 10 million Jews here, the load gets divided more evenly.

May we merit to welcome more of our brothers to this wonderful, holy land, so that they can not only share in the fruits, but help us shoulder the responsibilities. And the two go hand-in-hand, because the fruits are sweeter to those who are prepared to sacrifice for them.
Rabbi Joel Rebibo writes from Beit El.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.