Dvar Torah Parshat Matot 5774 2014

The tribes of Reuven and Gad came to Moshe concerning:  הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר הִכָּה יְקֹוָק לִפְנֵי עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, “the land that Hashem smote before the assembly of Israel”. (Num. 32,4) They asked permission to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan and not on the western side. Moshe’s reply to them was: הַאַחֵיכֶם יָבֹאוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה וְאַתֶּם תֵּשְׁבוּ פֹה, “…Shall your brothers go out to battle while you settle here?” (v. 6)

Did they not know that Moshe would use that argument to deny their request? The Commentary Or Hachayim on the Torah implies a very unique answer. Their point was that Hashem would fight the battle of the Israelites. That is why the Torah mentions in the beginning of this episodeהָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר  הִכָּה יְקֹוָק, “the land that Hashem smote”. Their thinking was that since Hashem will be fighting their battles there is no need for them to crossover the Jordon to assist in the fighting.

Moshe answered them that it is true that Hashem will assist them and guarantee victory. However, it is only after they themselves will fight. You must come with them to fight alongside your brethren.

After this argument of Moshe these tribes promised that they will arm themselves and go with their brethren until they too can settle in the land promised to the Jewish people.
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