Join Sivan's newsletter!

Get updates & news via Email

Our constant challenge

עשו העיקר עיקר והטפל טפל

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

I publish the following thought every year since each year it seems to be more relevant than ever.

In this week's Torah portion, the tribes of Reuven and Gad address Moshe Rabbeinu before going off to war, explaining how they wish to secure their livestock and their children. "We will build enclosures for our flocks and towns for our children." Enclosures for flocks followed by towns for children. It is as if they are saying: Focus mainly on money and career and secondarily on family.

Moshe Rabbeinu answers them, yet his answer reverses the order of concerns: "Build towns for your children and enclosures for your flocks." This is a lesson in priorities; what is mentioned first takes precedence over what is mentioned second.

And then Rashi succinctly elucidates the underlying message of this passage: "Make what is primary -- primary, and what is secondary -- secondary."

Indeed, we know what is of primary and what is of secondary importance in life, yet this understanding is not always easy to apply. How much of our time is utilized in a meaningful way, and how much of it is wasted? Do we scroll through our cell phones and send messages on WhatsApp when our child is standing next to us, in need of our attention? Do we make decisions based on what other people will say or on what our best self is telling us to do? Do we get distracted with non-essential matters that leave us feeling empty or take on projects that bring fulfillment? In short, do we order our priorities like the tribes of Gad and Reuven or like Moshe Rabbeinu?

May we merit to make what is primary -- primary, and what is secondary -- secondary.


We use cookies to ensure the best experience for you. Please, accept the usage of cookies.