We see in the end of Parshat Matot that while the Jews were about to enter the land of Israel and divide the land between the tribes, the Pasukim make clear that the tribes of Gad and Reuven had a lot of “Makneh” (money).
These tribes surmised that their excessive amounts of sheep needed ground to graze on so it would be best if they received green, large pastures to dwell. They pleaded with Moshe to receive the lands outside of Israel: “for we shall not inherit with them across the Jordan and beyond, for our inheritance has come to use on the east bank of the Jordan” (Numbers 32, 19) as their portion of land.
The next Pasukim described Moshe’s unhappy and lengthy speech he gave them, disgracing their decision to take lands outside the holy Israel. He then decides that if they fight in the wars to help conquer the lands of Israel for the rest of the tribes, they can have such lands on one extra condition. Pasuk 24 iterates- “Build for yourselves sites for your small children and pens for your flock, and what has come from your mouth shall you do”. It’s interesting to note that earlier in Pasuk 16 the tribes asked Moshe for the land and the reason being for “Pens for the flock shall we build here for our livestock and cities for our small children”.
Earlier, while the two tribes were talking to Moshe, they first mentioned their sheep and then the children while Moshe tells them in Pasuk 24 they must first build cities for their children and then pens for their sheep. What is Moshe and the Torah trying to teach us here by switching the order of the words? A person has to ask himself “What’s my first concern in life? How I present myself in front of my kids and raise them in proper institutions where I can be more assured they will grow up intelligent and pious in the way of Hashem (G-D), or is my first concern money and which city will raise my profits better?
People often prioritize living on a certain street, going to that special school, and driving a unique car. They always have their money blinking in their eyes – seducing them to live life and prioritize items that people should be pursuing to, first and foremost, benefit their family. Moshe and the Torah teach us a valuable lesson to first care for your kids, and what will benefit them the most, and then what area will bring about the best profit. Don’t simply nod your head saying “yes i’ll make sure to raise my kids properly”. If the father of a household only cares about money and bad habits, then his children will follow. If you want your child to be grown up a certain way then change yourself! People say “my son will learn Torah and be great”, but they themselves continue to pursue money so that “one day my child can learn without having to worry about money”.
Sooner or later, their son then says “yes maybe it didn’t work out for me but MY son will learn Torah and be great, and I will work so he can learn Torah without having to worry about money”. The cycle continues without anyone properly learning Torah. Maybe if you learned Torah, even just a few minutes a day, your sons will become inspired and follow in your footsteps to learn Torah. If you want your kids to embody certain admirable traits, you have to lead by example.