This week’s Torah portion is “Chukat” (Numbers 19:1-22:1). Among the experiences and episodes that we encounter in Chukat is the passing of Miriam and Aaron, sister and brother of Moses, respectively.
Miriam was far more than merely the sister of the leader of the Jewish people – she was a prophetess in her own right. When Pharaoh decreed that all Jewish baby boys were to be drowned in the Nile River many husbands and wives separated from each other. They reasoned: why should we bring children into the world if their end is to be drowned? In fact, among these now separating couples were Miriam’s parents!
Miriam wasted no time getting to work. She single-handedly persuaded her parents to reunite and to continue bringing children into the world. Miriam’s argument was logical and convincing: While Pharaoh’s decree is a terrible decree on the boys – your plan to separate and not bring any children into the world will affect both boys and girls! You are worse than Pharaoh, she cried. It was a result of her influence that Moses was born.
Aaron passing’s was a tragic blow to the nation, as well. It is only regarding Aaron that the Torah tells us that every single Jew, man, women, young, and old wept when Aaron passed away. Why? Because Aaron’s life mission was to bring peace between people and to help settle disputes. Whenever he heard that two individuals were in a fight he would go out of his way to try and make peace between them. This was especially true between husbands and wives who were quarrelling.
Aaron was extremely successful in his work and quickly became a major influence upon so many people with his attentive ear and his shoulders available for all to cry upon. Every single person was profoundly affected by his passing.
The lesson from Chukat is simple: Our world needs many more Miriams and Aarons! We need people who are rational and present logical arguments with dignity and authority. We need people who are there to care for every person, man, woman, young, and old. We need people who can competently make a difference upon so many people.
Today, especially in the Middle East, we live in a world of oppression, boycotts and flotillas. The world is very confused between right and wrong – good and evil. The bad guys are the good guys and vice versa. Although it often seems that there are more Pharaohs than any other type of human being, we can’t give up hope.
We need more Miriams and Aarons. We need more people to recognize the difference between right and wrong. To recognize that Israel stands for the values of Miriam and Aaron. That we are a people of peace and growth. That we value human life more than anything. It is people like YOU that can and will make a difference – by standing United with Israel.
Evil didn’t win in Pharaoh’s day, it won’t win today either. Am Yisrael Chai – the Nation of Israel lives!
Shabbat Shalom from Israel!