Aliya Summary: The tribes of Reuven and Gad owned lots of cattle. Seeing that the eastern bank of the Jordan — the lands of Sichon and Og which they had just conquered — had abundant pasture, they asked Moshe if they could remain and settle on the eastern bank. Moshe angrily responds that they are following in the footsteps of the spies who were fearful of the Canaanites, did not want to enter the land of Israel, and discouraged the entire nation from doing so. The Reuvenites and Gaddites respond that they will leave their cattle and families behind in fortified cities, and all their men will proceed into Israel with their brethren and lead them in the conquest of the land. Only after all the land has been conquered and settled would they return to the other side of the Jordan.

When the tribes of Reuven and Gad approached Moshe with their request to live on the other side of the Jordan river, Moshe was understandably upset, because he’d seen this mistake before. He proceeded to lecture them about what happened to their parents for doing the same thing, facts I’m sure everyone was already well aware of. So what was he adding by telling them what they already knew? He was putting their request in perspective for them, and although G-d wasn’t contacted directly yet, Moshe felt that he knew what would happen. Reuven and Gad’s response was similar. They showed Moshe that from their perspective they were nothing like the spies that faltered years ago, that they were still part of the Jewish people, united in beliefs, battles, and all else. They showed Moshe that their motivation was purely based on logistics of storing all their assets (motivation was something he could not know, only G-d). The lesson is clearly about understanding other people’s perspective, and how communication is so critical in appreciating others’ perspectives.