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    We’ll stay here, thank you – Mattot

    Two and a half tribes decided not to cross the Jordan to live in the Promised Land (Num. 32). “We like it here!” was the message. “Don’t make us go any further!”

    Moses called them tarbut anashim chata’im, “a brood of wicked men” (verse 14), and tried everything to change their thinking, even accusing them of disloyalty – “Your brethren will go to war whilst you sit here in comfort!” (verse 6).

    In the end a compromise was agreed; they would establish homes for their families on the east of the Jordan, go into the Land and help their brethren and then return to their eastern settlements.

    There is a rough analogy with our own day, when large segments of the Jewish people prefer to live outside of Israel though they mostly offer financial and other support to the State.

    But the circumstances of today are radically different in a significant way. No longer can it be said that the Diaspora is needed to bolster up the State, though its contribution is by no means unimportant; but now the spiritual and cultural identity of the Diaspora relies on the State, and those who think they can manage on their own are often living in a dream world.

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