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. He waited for circumstances. He stumbled upon them.
Yaakov saw in this as 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 B’chor, you could have been the Kohain, you could have been the king but your attitude lost them all!.” (BR 99) This attitude ultimately disqualified the family from having space in Eretz Yisroel. They were too fainant, too casual. If something is important don’t wait for it to happen, 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 something! (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? Let’s ask the tribe of Reuven some questions. 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 deliberate 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. We are the Bchorim, (“bnee bchoree Yisroel”), we are the Kohanim, we are the Royalty. (Mamleches Kohanim)!
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 proactive; they didn’t have a mission! .
In these troubling times for Israel and the world we need everyone to pro-actively think. Figure out what needs to be done, what you can do and – do it. Don’t stumble upon oportunities lest that be your legacy. Make things happen!
This Dvar Torah was dedicated by our friend Yehudit Rose in honor of her mother. Helen Rosenfeld’s A”H life was marked by challenge and loss. Yet her ability to survive over and over again through the hardest of times was testimony to the strength of her will, her personal resources, and her faith. She provided for her family with generosity, visited and tended to the sick and gave to the needy. She recited a daily chapter of Tehilim and was the last to finish Birkat Hamazon at the Shabbat table because she read every word slowly and with care. She practiced the simple faith of a Tzadeket. This is her first Yahrzeit. May her memory be blessed and inspire blessing.