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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Stumbling Upon Solutions

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

In Breishis we are told that Yaakov’s son Reuven saw that his mother Leah was barren. It was harvest time and Reuven was walking through the fields. He stumbled upon some “dudaim”, a medical herb that he thought would improve the Shalom Bayis situation at home. He picked them and gave them to his mother.

Chazal question this harshly. If Reuven thought it was important for his mother to have these herbs, why did he just stumble upon them? Why wasn’t he out there aggressively searching for them? Why wasn’t he using every search engine available to try to locate a source for them? He chanced upon them and he changed history. Why did he wait for until he stumbled upon them?

Yaakov saw in this an intrinsic character fault; a fault that would plague Reuven and his children for generations. At the end of his life Yaakov told Reuven, ‘You could have been the Bchor, you could have been the Kohain, you could have been the king but because of your attitude you lost them all! (B”R 99) This attitude ultimately disqualified the family from having space in Eretz Yisroel. They were too casual. When something is important we don’t wait for it to happen, we make it happen.

Generations later, when everyone was excited and ready to enter Eretz Yisroel, the children of Reuven approached Moshe. “We stumbled upon a land which is good.” Again they stumbled upon it. (B”R 72) They were leaving the desert and they started to see green. ‘It’s good here. Who knows what it will be like on the other side of the Jordan? In the meantime we found this - we want to just stay here!’

What is wrong with this picture? Tribe of Reuven! Did you leave Egypt so dramatically just to stumble upon a land? Did you walk for forty years, have bread fall from Heaven, water miraculously spring up from the dry sand, and hear G-d talk just to chance upon a green place? Where is your sense of mission? Where is your sense of purpose? Moshe admonished Reuven once again.

As Jews we cannot afford to be a laid back people. We have to be deliberate. We have to make things happen.

The Bnei Reuven were willing to pull their weight. They never thought of absolving themselves from their responsibilities as Jews. They wanted to do everything right, yet - they were not fixated on the goal and the mission. They were not fixated on Eretz Yisroel and Yerushalayim.

At this time of year, as we focus on Yerushalayim. G-d wants us to be proactive in our Geula; He wants us to create it.

What are we doing to preserve the unique holiness of Yerushalayim? What are we proactively doing to bring more Jews together?

We cannot wait until we ‘stumble’ upon solutions – we must search for them.

May we all be privileged to dance at the simcha of Yerushalayim - speedily in our days.

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