Chukat 5784

This week in parashat Chukat we read of the deaths of siblings Aaron and Miriam and the decree that Moses too will die before reaching the Promised Land. When we consider these three siblings we often spend time on the brothers: Moses, the great leader, the prophet of God and Aaron, the High Priest, the one who facilitated the connection between the people and their spirit. And then we have Miriam, all too often overlooked and forgotten. It is sometimes easy to hear the voices shouting out from the mountain, the ones who are dressed in robes of titles, offices, importance, and to ignore the less prominent ones. The ones which don’t get the media attention, who are not surrounded with accolades, these are sometimes the most important voices of all. These are the voices of Miriam and this Shabbat as we remember her death, we also can turn to her life and consider her legacy, what she has to teach us by the way she lived.

A midrash teaches that there was a magical well which followed the Israelites in the desert providing them with life sustaining water. When Miriam died, the well disappeared for its existence was tied with Miriam, the one who provided life giving waters for the soul of the people. The tradition says that it was Miriam who sat with the people, who listened to them, gave advice, guidance and nurturing warmth.

Miriam was also the one who led the people in celebration and song when they reached freedom after hundreds of years of slavery. She sang and danced and freedom’s song was given voice through her. She teaches us to be thankful and grateful for what we have, to be in the moment and celebrate the times along the journey with community.

Miriam also reminds us that sometimes the greatest acts happen quietly and gently around us. She reached out to others, she listened to their stories, she sat with people in their pain and soothed their wounded souls. Miriam’s deeds remind us of the significance and importance of our daily encounters with one another, our interactions which can make a difference in one another’s lives.

So this Shabbat when we remember Miriam and her life we are called to see, notice and hear the people around us who nurture us. To be grateful and thankful for their presence in our lives and to recognise the significance of caring for and meeting one another and the holiness of those encounters. And remembering to celebrate, laugh, cry, sing and dance together.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jaqueline Ninio 


4 thoughts on “Chukat 5784

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Rabbi Jacki. Such important wisdom, not just for our current times, but also into the future.

  2. ray lehrer says:

    to get mentioned in our writings as a female is rare .She must have been must have been extraordinary .Either saint or sinner .
    for Moses and Aaron the people morn 30 days for Miriam zilch

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