The Bnei Yisrael, the whole assembly, arrived at the wilderness of Zin in the first month and the people settled in Kadesh. Miriam died there and she was buried there“(20:1).
This week’s Parsha contains the passing of Miriam. Miriam’s righteousness meant that the Bnei Yisrael were able to survive their journey through the barren desert for forty years due to a rock which had a copious amount of water constantly flowing. This rock was called ‘Miriam’s Well’. Miriam’s death caused a water shortage that resulted in the Bnei Yisrael demanding Moshe provided water for them. This proceeds the well-known story where Hashem tells Moshe to take his staff and speak to the rock and Moshe hits the rock, causing him to lose out on the opportunity to enter Israel.
Why was the water given to the Jewish people only in the merit of Miriam?
Rashi explains that one of the most prominent features of water is its ability to adapt to its surrounding due to its viscosity. Figuratively, Miriam is said to have represented this value. Miriam was able to adjust her faith and unwavering loyalty to Hashem in all circumstances.
Miriam was born during the darkest chapter of the Jewish bondage in Egypt. When she was young, Pharaoh decreed that all male babies be thrown into the river. Spouses separated to avoid procreating children who would be drowned, yet in this darkness Miriam persuaded her parents to have faith and remain living together. As a result, her brother Moshe, redeemer of the Jewish people, was born.
Like water, Miriam adjusted to the oppression and hardship and remained strong in her faith and beliefs. Consequently, in her merit, Hashem provided the Jewish people with miraculous water in the desert. However, when Miriam died, a new demonstration of paramount faith was required. Hashem wanted Moshe to draw water from the rock by speaking alone.
In our own day-to-day lives, it is easier to have faith when things are going well. If plans are falling apart and don’t seem to be going our way, our faith is tested. If we are able to keep our faith and adapt it to the situation like Miriam was able to then we to will also pull through the bad times and be triumphant in the good. Shabbat Shalom.