This week’s Parshat Chukat is filled with crises in the Israelite community. Miriam dies and the people freak out since she was responsible for providing water. Their anger and anxiety are directed at Moses. God instructs Moses to speak to a rock that would gush forth with water. But Moses, hearing the people’s kvetching, loses it and violently strikes the rock. This lack of faith and act of violence is the reason, according to the text, why Moses cannot enter the promised land. Having just lost his sister, I can feel his frustration. Nonetheless, leaders who wield tremendous authority are, somehow, expected to draw upon deeper reservoirs when there is a crisis. Nonviolent solutions to problems are the Torah teaching here. And the fact that there is no period of mourning for Miriam is also disturbing. When Aaron dies later in the Parsha, the people mourn for thirty days, the origin of Shloshim. It is here that the Written Torah gives us an opportunity to live the Oral Torah and rectify the disrespect for Miriam.
Our society today is now applying a new Oral American Torah to cleanse and rectify the manifestations of systemic racism that have permeated our society for more than two centuries. We, the People, advance and create Torah values
Our Jewish Oral Torah calls us this Shabbat to remember Miriam. We will also remember other women in history whose Yahrzeits have been ignored or forgotten. Please feel free to name someone. If you cannot join us on Zoom consider lighting a candle.
B’Shalom, Reb David