Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Metz / Torah Portion: Keep your Priorities Straight

July 13, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Metz / Torah Portion: Keep your Priorities Straight

A huge thank you to Marc Fertik, Sharon Bender, Walter Rose and Jeremy Strauss for helping to lead services while I was on leave. Thank you always to our incredible and always hard-working president Cheryl August for keeping everything together!  

Friday, July 13, 8 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat services. Oneg will be sponsored by Sherry Weber and Mike Denes.  Please help us make a minyan enabling us to say Kaddish.

This Shabbat morning, Saturday, July 14, at 10 a.m., meet us at Bayview Park for Shabbat Morning by the Sea. Join us for a shortened Shabbat service and to discuss if it is ever OK to break your word. I promise to be there! Please let me know you will be there by
Looking forward to seeing you there!


Please enjoy my reflections on this week’s Torah portion.

I once heard a story that unfortunately a synagogue had a fire.  The firefighters arrived and helped everyone to get out of the building to safety.  One of the firefighters was Jewish and although the fire was not yet controlled, she turned to the Rabbi asking where the Torah scrolls were located in the building.  She would go back in to retrieve them.  The Rabbi forbid her from risking her life, even to save Torah scrolls!  Human life is more valuable and important than any object, even a Torah.

Sometimes our statements or actions do not always match this.  We often forget how important our lives are.  This week we read in the double Torah portion Mattot-Massei of a discussion on where each of the tribes will reside once they cross over into the land of Israel.  The tribes of Gad and Reuben were shepherds with large amounts of livestock, therefore they approached Moses and asked if they could reside on the eastern bank of the Jordan river, not crossing into Israel because that land was better suited for livestock.  

They tell Moses of their plans saying: “We will build sheepfolds for our livestock here and cities for our children.”  The commentator Rashi notices the not just what they say, but how they say it.  

They first say that they will build enclosures for their livestock and THEN cities for their children.  A Midrash imagines Moses noticing the order of their words as their priorities.  Moses says to the tribes of Gad and Reuben: “Not so! Treat the fundamental as a fundamental, and the matter of secondary importance as a matter of secondary importance. First ‘build cities for your children,’ and afterward ‘enclosures for your sheep’”  The children, the people are much more important than the property, their livestock.  Just as Moses tells this to the tribes of Gad and Reuben, the lesson is equally applicable to us today.  Our plans and our speech should reflect this. 

Do your actions show the priority of people over possessions?  As we move into Shabbat, let us all try to better focus on each other and what matters most.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Metz

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal