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What is the order of our priorities?

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Here's a thought from my mother-in-law, family guidance counselor Ziva Meir:

On Shabbat, we read in the Torah about the tribe of Reuven and the tribe of Gad, who say to Moshe Rabbeinu: "Here we will build sheep enclosures for our livestock and cities for our infants." (Numbers 32:16) Their order of priorities is clear: first their sheep, their possessions, and only afterwards their infants, their children.

Moshe Rabbeinu answers them, but reverses the order of priorities: "Build cities for your infants and enclosures for your sheep." First concern yourselves with your children, the next generation, and only afterwards worry about your sheep and your finances. Do not exhange the main thing for what is secondary, do not confuse the ends with the means.

It often seems that our main purpose in life is in the outside world. That's where we will find self-realization and fulfillment. We even find special clothes to wear as part of our outside roles – a judge's robes, an officer's uniform, a business suit. When we get home, we take off our work clothes as though our job is done for the day although, in truth, our job at home is most important, and we should consider donning a special "parent's robe."

This understanding can help us a great deal, especially during summer vacation. All that we parents are presently doing in building our families (from giving the children showers to taking them to camp) is part of a precious and holy lifetime mission. Just to internalize this message, just to be reminded that I am doing something important - provides strength and meaning to our lives.

Have a good summer.


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