Reading this Parshah, everyone always speaks about the red heifer – פָּרָה אֲדֻמָּה I want to talk about the people leading the nation, and their tragedies. This is a Parshah, where both Miriam and Aaron die and Moses makes that tragic mistake that costs him his entrance to Eretz Yisrael.
“… the prophetess Miriam now dies, and the loss of the woman, who occupied a place as high as that of her brothers, Moses and Aaron, at once became evident in a way that was perceived by the pious as well as by the godless. She was the only woman who died during the march through the desert, and this occurred for the following reasons. She was a leader of the people together with her brothers, and as these two were not permitted to lead the people into the Promised Land, she had to share their fate. The well, furthermore, that had provided Israel with water during the march through the desert, had been a gift of God to the people as a reward for the good deeds of this prophetess, and as this gift had been limited to the time of the march through the desert, she had to die shortly before the entrance into the promised land. Hardly had Miriam died, when the well also disappeared and a dearth of water set in, that all Israel might know that only owing to the merits of the pious prophetess had they been spared a lack of water during the forty years of the march. While Moses and Aaron were now plunged in deep grief for their sister’s death, a mob of the people collected to wrangle with them on account of the dearth of water. ” (The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg )
יא וַיָּרֶם מֹשֶׁה אֶת-יָדוֹ, וַיַּךְ אֶת-הַסֶּלַע בְּמַטֵּהוּ–פַּעֲמָיִם; וַיֵּצְאוּ מַיִם רַבִּים, וַתֵּשְׁתְּ הָעֵדָה וּבְעִירָם.
|11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle.|
יב וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן, יַעַן לֹא-הֶאֱמַנְתֶּם בִּי, לְהַקְדִּישֵׁנִי לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל–לָכֵן, לֹא תָבִיאוּ אֶת-הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-נָתַתִּי לָהֶם.
|12 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron: ‘Because ye believed not in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.’|
“להקדישני TO SANCTIFY ME — For had you spoken to the rock and it had brought forth water I would have been sanctified before the whole congregation, for they would have said: What is the case with this rock which cannot speak and cannot hear and needs no maintenance? It fulfils the bidding of the Omnipresent God! How much more should we do so?”
Many of us once in a while think that it would be great to know the day of passing so that we can be prepared, put all our affairs in order, leave what we need to our children, etc. On the other hand, how hard it is to know that you are on your journey to achieving the goal you were striving for all your life, and to be told – that’s it – today, you have to stop. There is no arguing with this voice. How much harder it is to know that all your life you’ve been doing precisely what was expected of you, and one mistake stops you from achieving that goal of your life!
All three of our leaders, Moses, Aaron and Miriam knew exactly what their goal in life was. Are many of us that lucky? Do we have a clear picture of where we need to go? Our roads are mostly much curvier than those of the Amram family.
There are no answers in this chapter for me, only questions. I am leaving for Israel B’H to study again next week looking for these answers. May H-Shem help me find them and all of us appreciate every question He asks on the road to our goals.