The Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven desired the land east of theJordan; they were blessed with plenty of cattle and approached Moshe in their request to inherit this land. As part of the agreement they affirmed that they would make sure to join the army of the Bnei Yisrael to conquer the land west of the Jordan – Nachnu Navor Chalutzim – we shall cross over armed.
Rabbi Shimon Kohen who was a Dayan inJerba,Tunisia, notes that the usual word used for “we” is “Anachnu”, yet here the Torah uses the word “Nachnu”. He explains that the word “Nachnu” appears four times in Tanach.
1. Kulanu Bnei Ish Echad Nachnu (Bereishit 42:11), 2. VeNachnu Ma (Shemot 16:7), 3.Nachnu Naavor (our Parsha) and 4.Nachnu Pashanu Umarinu (Eicha 3:42).
He explains the connection between the four places with an amazing story brought down in his Sefer Maaseh Choshev (Parshat Miketz);
There was once a poor person who lived entirely on the donations of the community. Life was tough, and he would go every day from door to door collecting his daily income. One day he entered a rich neighbourhood, and approached the home of one of the wealthiest merchant in town. The merchant was sitting in the balcony of his villa and seemed to be deep in concentration. The poor man wanted to gain his attention and placed his hands in his pockets jiggling some of the coins he had, perhaps now the merchant would see him. The merchant was known for his generosity and looked up noting the poor man at his door, and told him to wait a few minutes. “I am busy counting my net worth, and I cannot stop my concentration otherwise I will lose track of the real worth of my entire wealth.” The poor man heard this and happily waited. He decided that this was a great idea and that he too should count his wealth. He took out his coins and started to count them one by one.
The merchant peeped over and saw what was happening. Only one difference between us he thought, this is a poor downtrodden man, counting his pennies and I am counting my millions. He spoke out his feelings, and asked why the poor man was counting. “Are you counting in order to work out how much you need to get in order to make it to where I am?The poor wasn’t taken aback by the question and immediately answered “No, No, I don’t need to work that out, I have already informed myself in the past and know the answer.” The merchant was impressed. “What did you inform yourself of, what did you find out?”
“I got to the conclusion that we are not so far apart. The only difference between us is ten Zehuvim (golden coins).
What, exclaimed the merchant, that cant be, unless of course you are hiding a treasure chest of wealth somewhere and acting like a poor man. No I have asked, experts and they have confirmed with me that the only difference between us is ten Zehuvim. The merchant was stunned. What was this poor man talking about? “Explain yourself!” exclaimed the merchant.
“Simple, I asked the burial society and they told me that (after 120) there are only two sets of clothing; one for rich and one for poor. The difference in price is 10 Zehuvim!
Rabbi Shimon Kohen explains that a person can think himself better than others in 3 ways; Yichus (lineage), Wealth and Wisdom. The Torah is hinting to us; VeNachnu Ma; what makes us different than others? Why do we feel a great pride over others? If it is because of our Yichus – Kulanu Bnei Ish Echad Nachnu – we all come from the same lineage – Avraham, Yitschak and Yakov. If it is due to our wisdom, Nachnu Pashanu Umarinu – we must know that being wiser carries with it a harsher punishment were we to sin, for we should know better. And if it is through our wealth that we take pride, then Nachnu Navor Chalutzim – eventually after 120 years we all pass over to the next world and leave our “wealth” behind.
Pride can be used against others, it can be used to put others down, yet it can also be used for the good. Am Yisrael are a united people. We all come from different backgrounds, have different characteristics and tests, yet we are all one nation. Our pride should not be set on how we compare to the rest, rather it should be focused on our achievements and unity in serving Hashem.
As Yirmiyahu Hanavi stated (9:22-23) “Thus said God, “Let not the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom, and let not the strong man glorify himself with his strength, let not the rich man glorify himself with his wealth. For only with this may one glorify himself – contemplating and knowing Me, for I am God, Who does kindness, justice and righteousness in the land, for in these is My desire.”
Rabbi Shaul Yonatan Tawil
Lirfuat Hadasa Ester Bat Janet