Once, on the way to school, my six-year-old son, who was sitting in the back of the minivan, asked me out of the blue, “Daddy, how much are you worth?”

I was a bit taken aback by his question, and to tell you the truth, a little disappointed that he was already counting my money at his tender age.

Daddy, how much are you worth?

“I am worth millions,” I answered.

“Wow, really?”

“Yes, you are worth one million, your sister is another million, and your other sister, she’s another million . . .”

I could almost hear his brain ticking when he shot back, “OK, if you subtracted us, what are you worth then?”

“The truth is, my son, if I subtracted you guys, I would have absolutely nothing!”

Just before our ancestors entered the promised land, the tribes of Reuben and Gad asked for special permission to remain on the east bank of the Jordan River, while the rest of the nation would settle on its west bank. They made a passionate plea to Moses, explaining that they had lots of cattle and that the fertile land east of the Jordan was perfect for their livestock. “We will build sheepfolds for our livestock here and cities for our children,” they insisted. “We will then arm ourselves quickly [and go] before the children of Israel until we have brought them to their place.”

Moses acquiesced while subtly admonishing them in his response: “So build yourselves cities for your children and [only then] enclosures for your sheep.” Moses changed the order of their words, hinting to them to remember their priorities. Children and our spiritual future come first!

InChildren and our spiritual future come first! contemporary terms, our “livestock” is our material wealth—our beautiful homes, flashy cars and extensive investment portfolios. Like the tribes of Reuben and Gad, many in our generation erroneously place their wealth ahead of their kids.

We must never lose sight of our real priorities. While material blessings can be wisely utilized, our children and what they represent are far more important. Yes, there are many positive, “kosher” ways to use our material wealth, and some of the greatest deeds, like giving charity, can be performed with material goods. However, the accumulation and protection of our wealth should never happen, G‑d forbid, at the expense of that which is most important. It is our children who truly represent our net worth!