Before going off to war, the tribes of Reuven and Gad turn to Moshe Rabbeinu and speak of how they wish to attend to their herds and children left behind: “We will build enclosures for our livestock and cities for our children.” The order of their priorities is clear: first their animal herds, then cities for their children. First business, then family.
Moshe Rabbeinu answers them, but reverses the order of priorities: “Build for yourselves cities for your children and enclosures for your livestock.” First the children, then the animal herds. This is not an order based on sentiment, but rather a prioritization of values, a lesson in what is truly important.
And if this message is not clear enough, Rashi adds: “Moshe said to them: Make what is essential – essential; make what is secondary – secondary.”
The summer months are the perfect time to ponder these questions: What is the proper balance between work and family? What are our priorities? How much time do we waste, and how much time do we utilize in a meaningful way? Do we have a sense of mission inside, within our homes, or only toward the outside world? In short, do we get confused between what is of essential importance and what is secondary, or do we finally succeed in making the essential – essential, and the secondary – secondary?
A Thought For The New Week
Towards the end of a wonderful Shabbat at Camp Mesorah in New York, Rabbi Meir Goldwicht shared the following idea with the campers and counselors:
“We do not keep Shabbat only on Shabbat. We keep Shabbat on Sunday and Monday too. All week long, until the next Shabbat. Six days of creativity are positively influenced by the content of our Shabbat.
“But the special connection between the six days of the week and Shabbat goes both ways. Shabbat, too, is influenced by the content of our week. Again, and again Shabbat is often mentioned in the Torah following six days of work: ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work. And the seventh day is a Shabbat to the L-rd your G-d. You shall not do any work.’
“In other words, the quality of our week influences the quality of Shabbat. A week of positive activity, study, family time, volunteering, fulfilling work and effective utilization of time will enable us to appreciate and enjoy Shabbat in the best possible way.”
What’s Your Daily?
“Shalom Sivan, this is Udi Tenne. Three years ago, when my son Yair was in kindergarten, we began to learn a daily Mishnah together. This was done from the belief that good habits, especially when ingrained at a very young age, will have a positive influence for years to come. A short time later we were driving and heard a radio program broadcast by yourself and Yedidya. You said that everyone needs a daily commitment so that they have an answer to the question: What’s your daily? A daily page of Gemara, a daily Mishnah, a daily halacha. . . and Yedidya said that whoever learns two Mishnayot a day will complete all six orders or divisions of the Mishnah within five years. Yair and I looked at each other and said: Let’s do it. We increased our daily commitment to two Mishnayot.
Racheli Shtruli, Yair’s teacher, began to make a little party in class each time Yair and I finished a tractate. He had more and more parties, which influenced other children to start learning Mishnah too. This week Yair Tenne, a graduate of second grade in the Segula School in Bnei Brak, finished the entire Order of Zeraim (agricultural laws). The Mishnah includes a total of six orders, and one order is completely behind us now, coinciding exactly with Yair’s eighth birthday.
As someone who makes a living as a media consultant, I live from one crisis to the next. I run from client to client, from event to event. I enjoy this chaotic life but our daily study each morning anchors me. With G-d’s help, Yair and I will continue in this commitment and, knowing what daily study has added to our lives, we call out to one and all and ask: What’s your daily?”