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Joyful rebuke and destructive anger

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“Moshe and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock; and he said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you out of this rock?’” (Bamidbar 20,10).

In only a matter of a few pages, 40 years in the desert have passed. But as the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The stubbornness of the nation, and their brazenness towards their leaders, is unfortunately as present as ever.

But this time, the reactions of Moshe and Aharon are different, and their response to the complaints of the people will change the course of our story drastically.

The text tells us that the nation arrived in the Tzin Desert and rested in Kadesh. Suddenly, with no prior warning, we are told that Miriam passed on, and that she was buried in that place. Her death outside of Canaan foreshadows the fate of her brothers, as neither Aharon nor Moshe will reach the Holy Land.

Immediately after Miriam’s death, the very next passage tells us that there was no water. Of course, there was no water, they were in the middle of the desert! Where did they get their water before, and where has it gone? From here the Sages learn that the miraculous well that followed the nation in the desert was in the merit of Miriam, and thus is called Be’er Miriam,........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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