Chukkat: The Waters of Faith

…and the people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there. The community was without water… (B’midbar 20:1-2).
She stands by the river,
soft mud underfoot
waves lapping at the bank.
She watches the ark, adrift
with its precious cargo.

Unwavering, like water
flowing from its source,
Miriam steps out, praying
to bring her brother home
to thrive in his mother’s arms.

She crosses the seabed,
sandy gravel underfoot
past towering crests.
She eyes the throngs of people
filing silently to safety.

Unwavering, like water
flowing from its source,
Miriam steps out, singing
to raise the people’s spirits
and remind them they are free.

The people camped in Kadesh,
there Miriam died
and the water flow was dammed.


On the phrase, “The community was without water…” the Etz Hayim commentary notes, “A legend tells of a marvelous well that sprang up wherever the Israelites camped, as a tribute to Miriam’s piety. As she waited by the waters of the Nile to see the fate of her baby brother, as she celebrated God’s power at the Sea, so was she blessed with water, a substance more valuable in the desert than gold. When she died, the well vanished.”

The Ari* teaches that when a well of water is dug, a corresponding spiritual well of water is opened in the upper worlds, causing the spiritual energies of faith contained in the upper waters to permeate the atmosphere and giving people more faith and belief in God (since any action done in the physical world causes a corresponding action in the spiritual world). The Forefathers dug wells in their efforts to spread the belief in God to the world. Thus, Miriam’s well is connected to her deep belief and faith in God. (Chayei Sara Parsha Sheet, by Yisroel Katz, published by Breslov World Center 1996)

*Rabbi Isaac ben Solomon Luria Ashkenazi (1534 – 1572), commonly known as the Ari (The Lion), was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine. He is considered the father of contemporary Kabbalah, his teachings being referred to as Lurianic Kabbalah. While his direct literary contribution to the Kabbalistic school of Safed was extremely minute (he wrote only a few poems), his spiritual fame led to their veneration and the acceptance of his authority. The works of his disciples compiled his oral teachings into writing. Every custom of the Ari was scrutinized, and many were accepted, even against previous practice.

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