Rabbi P. Winston on Matot
Excerpts from Torah.org
But the truth is that, though Tisha b'Av is indeed rooted in the sin of the spies, the other truth is that it is in this week's parshah that the sin was polished to perfection, so-to-speak. And Moshe makes mention of this:
Moshe answered the descendants of Gad and Reuven, "Should your brothers go to war while you live in peace here? Why would you discourage the Israelite nation from crossing into the land which God has given to them? That's exactly what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh-Barnea to scout the land. (Bamidbar 32:6-8)
Had the two-and-a-half tribes of Reuven, Gad, and Menashe settled into the land with the rest of the nation, then the requisite number of 600,000 Jewish males over the age of 20 would have settled the land, and THAT, says the Vilna Gaon, would have neutralized the Sitra Achra for good. It would have been the tikun for the spies, and no Tisha b'Av would have been necessary, except as a holiday to celebrate the arrival of the Final Redemption. Therefore, the Three Weeks are just as much a reminder about that episode as was the original one.
Likewise, the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and Menashe must have thought that their intentions were noble and not contradictory to the ultimate plan of the Jewish people. How else could they have approached Moshe Rabbeinu with an idea just after having served a 40-year sentence for having made the same request at the beginning of the journey? They must have thought there was a difference between what they were doing and what the original spies had done.
Indeed, the Leshem explains that in Yemos HaMoshiach, Jerusalem extends to incorporate the very area in which these tribes settled, which is perhaps why the Old City was in the hands of Jordan for so long before being re- taken in the 1967 war by the Israelis. There is an inherent connection, and the two-and-a-half tribes that chose to settle in that area may have tapped into that, believing that they were settling in a portion of Eretz Yisroel.
The Three Weeks, in fact, come to tell us what Moshe Rabbeinu tried to tell the tribes of Reuven, Gad, and Menashe in this week's parshah: Get real with the idea of redemption! Involve yourselves in the issues of Geulah Shlaimah. As Mordechai told Esther, "That it is coming, you can be certain. But whether you will ride on its crest or be steamrolled by it is the choice that G-d is putting before you," - before all of us.
We're running out of chances to get this right. Some of us are betting this is the last one.