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"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 Aleynu Lishabeach 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, a young man got married to a wonderful girl. It seemed like the chosson (groom) had received an exceptional blessing from Hashem, and his friends wondered why. True, he was a very nice person, but he must have done something very special to be so blessed. At the sheva berachos (wedding celebrations), his father told a story which satisfied everyone's curiosity.
"My son, as you all know, has a beautiful voice. He sings like a bird. It is a talent he was born with and when he prepared for his bar mitzvah it was a pleasure to hear. I anticipated being very proud of him in shul on that special day and I was prepared to receive compliments from all of the congregants.
"The morning of the bar mitzvah, he read his haftorah one last time before going to shul, and he knew it perfectly. To my great surprise, though, when he was called to the Torah, his voice was unusually hoarse. To make matters worse, he actually sang off tune a few times; something he never did before. I was amazed and disappointed and the people in shul were far from impressed.
"After the kiddush, on the way home, I asked my young man what had happened. Why did he suddenly get so nervous that he wasn't able to perform properly? He had never been ashamed to sing in public before.
"My heart filled with pride as he explained to me what had happened. 'Abba,' he said to me, 'you surely remember that my friend became bar mitzvah last week and he did not sing so nicely. Next week, too,' he continued, 'another friend of mine is becoming bar mitzvah, and he is not musically inclined either, so I doubt that he will do too great a job. On the way to shul I started thinking that if I sing beautifully, as I am able to do, my friends will be embarrassed as everyone will start making comparisons. Although I would not be to blame, nevertheless I will have caused them excessive pain. I decided, then and there, that I would make believe I was hoarse, and even sing off tune a few times, so that no one would say that I was better than they. I hope I didn't disappoint you too much!'
"If anyone is wondering," concluded the proud father, "why this wonderful young man was blessed with such a wonderful wife, I am sure that now he understands."
Those who befriend Hashem by caring for others are privileged to get special attention from Him.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network