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Your Money or Your Life- Matos Masei

Your Money or Your Life

All of us at some time in our life and probably more often than not have to make the choice between living our life to the utmost, enjoying the blessings of life and constantly working for the maintenance and acquisition of possessions.  This challenge is not a product of the rat race that we live in.  It was the predicament of the children of Gad and the children of Reuben, who were rich, possessing large numbers of cattle, , “The Reubenites and the Gadites owned cattle in very great numbers” (32:1)  and requested permission from Moshe to settle outside the Land of Israel. Then they stepped up to him and said, “We will build here sheepfolds for our flocks and towns for our children.” (Numbers 32:16) (Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki) 1040-1105 France) explains, based on the Midrash:

“That they had consideration for their wealth more than for their sons and their daughters, for they mentioned their cattle before their little ones. Moses said to them: Not thus shall you do. What is of primary significance (should be) primary, and what is secondary (should be) secondary. Build for yourselves cities for your little ones first and afterwards folds for your sheep (32:24).

 

Rashi and other commentators fault the tribes of Reuben and Gad for placed money and possessions – their cattle – before their families, their community (the other Israelite tribes), and God. Their priorities were wrong: they put their money before their lives.  The end result was that they lost their money and their lives.- They were the first of the tribes exiled from their land never to return and no longer to be part of their people. The narrative in the Torah are intended to teach and guide rather than give a historical account. We have so many waking hours that we allot to prayer, Torah study, and work. Which of these gets the lion’s share? What should our priorities be?

 

As we have noted, choosing the right priorities has always been a problem, all the more so today, when technology allows us to be in contact with the office, clients, and co-workers  24/7.  The problem has grown worse. It is even more difficult not to make work our priority. More than ever before we must ask ourselves “Do I work to live or live to work?”

 Do we know what our priorities should be? Do we realize that we may only have a few days or weeks left to live. Do we appreciate our time?

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