ויאמר אליהם משה אם תעשון את הדבר הזה אם תחלצו לפני ד' למלחמה ועבר לכם כל חלוץ את הירדן לפני ד' עד הורישו את איביו מפניו ונכבשה הארץ לפני ד' ואחר תשבו והייתם נקים מד' ומישראל והיתה הארץ הזאת לכם לאחזה לפני ד'
Moshe said to them, “if you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before Hashem for the battle, and every armed man among you shall cross the Jordan before Hashem, until He drives out His enemies before Him, and the land shall be conquered before Hashem, and then you shall return - then you shall be vindicated from Hashem and from Israel’ and this land shall be a heritage for you before Hashem.
When the tribes of Reuvain and Gad requested to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan, Moshe Rabbenu was concerned that they were rejecting going into Eretz Yisroel and would demoralize the rest of K’lal Yisroel the way the spies had done years earlier.
But when these tribes explained that they simply were willing to take their portion on the east to compensate for their vast amount of cattle, Moshe was pacified and agreed to their request.
However, Moshe made a condition: You must lead the troops into battle and aid in the conquest of the land. Only after may you return to enjoy your inheritance on the other side.
What was the purpose of this condition? What did Moshe seek to achieve?
On a simple level, Moshe wanted to ensure that they would be on the front lines to show that they are not afraid to fight. This would strengthen the resolve of the rest of the people to not be scared to enter the land.
The Dorash Dovid suggests something deeper. Moshe Rabbenu was concerned that by being so far away, they would lose touch and drift away from the rest of K’lal Yisroel. Indeed, in Sefer Yehoshua, we are told that the tribes of Reuvain and Gad built a tremendous monument to attest to their being a part of the nation. Apparently, this was an issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Moshe’s solution was to have them ‘carry the burden’ of the people. By joining in their
effort, by giving of themselves to the rest, they would be creating an eternal bond that would transcend distance and space. When we give of ourselves to others, we become attached to them spiritually and emotionally, and feel forever close.
Not only this, the tribes of Reuvain and Gad took upon themselves to stay with K’lal Yisroel until each and every person would receive his portion, keeping them away from their own families for a total of fourteen years! This was all to ensure that they would always feel connected to the rest of the people.
We can learn from here, that it is the giving of ourselves that created the bond, not the other way around. Don’t wait for the friendship to form before we give, give first, and that will create the friendship! May we all feel for one another, and be bound eternally as one!