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Bemidbar"And the tribe of Gad -- and the leader of the children of Gad is Eliasaph son of Re'uel" (Bemidbar 2:14).
It is a bit strange that this is a slight change in the leader's name from what was said earlier, (ibid. 1:14), "For Gad, Eliasaph son of De'uel."
In Tuvecha Yabiu Rabbi Zilberstein shlita records the phenomenal explanation of the book Imrei Noam.
In the Desert, The twelve tribes of Israel were divided into four camps of three tribes apiece, who were positioned around the Holy Ark. The leader of one tribe was appointed leader over the entire camp. On the North side, the tribe of Dan was appointed leader of the camp while on the South, Reuvain was appointed leader and the tribe of Gad was included in his camp.
Reuvain, as we know, was the firstborn of Ya'akov's wife Leah, and it was certainly fitting that he should be appointed leader of his camp. Dan was the firstborn of Bilhah and was appointed firstborn of his camp. But Gad, who was the firstborn of Zilpah was not appointed leader of any camp. Yet, the tribe of Gad did not complain at all and accepted the decisions of Moshe as they were given to him by Hashem.
Therefore, says the Imrei Noam, the name of the leader of the tribe of Gad was changed from De'uel to Re'uel since the first two Hebrew letters of the new name (reish and ayin) spell out the word re'a which means friend. Added to the last two Hebrew letters (aleph and lamed) which combine to spell out Hashem's name, we come up with "a friend of G-d."
This signifies that because he accepted Hashem's judgment without complaining, he merited becoming Hashem's friend and was showered with His blessings. Therefore, he continues, they were honored that Moshe himself was buried in their portion of the Land of Israel.
This is meant to be a lesson to all of us as the following story by Rabbi Zilberstein indicates.
A few years ago, an excellent young man in Bnei Brak got married with a wonderful girl who came from a fantastic family. Those who knew him were not really surprised. It seemed to them that everything this fellow did, since he was a child, was blessed by Hashem in an extraordinary manner. When some of the neighbors expressed wonderment over his unusual "mazal" the Rabbi of the neighborhood said that he believes that he knows the real reason.
"Not many know," related the Rabbi to the curious members of his congregation, "that when this fellow became bar mitzvah he was faced with a difficult decision. In our shul, there was another boy who was to become bar mitzvah the very same Shabbos and it was obvious that one of them would have to defer to the other and celebrate his joyous event somewhere else; without his fellow congregants who knew and liked him.
"The two boys came to me and asked how they should decide this sensitive issue. I told them to choose lots and the winner was today's chosson (groom). Any normal child, even if he were not spiteful at the other one's misfortune, would, nevertheless, be happy that he was the lucky winner. But not this wonderful boy. After his victory, he found out that his friend would not even be able to make his simcha in any of the other local synagogues since they were all occupied that Shabbos with other affairs. He had no choice but to make it in a totally different neighborhood, where he knew absolutely no one. Our chosson also knew that his friend happened to be a very sensitive boy who would surely take it to heart.
"Normally, the loser would have been concerned over the situation, and probably he was. But in our case, it was the winner who found no peace within himself. His sense of sharing in his friend's pain gave him no respite and he could not fall asleep that night until he decided that the following morning he would tell his friend that he would waive to him the right to be called up to the Torah in our shul! And that's exactly what he did.
"We can easily imagine how thrilled the loser was when his friend told him the good news. His face shone with happiness and he couldn't stop thanking and blessing the boy who had cared enough about him to sacrifice his own happiness for his.
"Then and there," continued the Rabbi, "I decided to keep my eye on this diamond of a boy, and see how Hashem would repay him for his kindness. And I can bear witness, that from that day on, he became a totally different person. Everything, but everything, that he did, he was successful in. Everything he wanted, he received - including today's fantastic shidduch which many of you are wondering about. Hashem is clearly showering his blessings on one who surely deserves them, for having given up what was rightfully his for someone else."
Indeed, he became a "friend" of Hashem.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network