Parshas Chukas focuses on the Parah Adumah and Moshe hitting the rock and not speaking to the rock and thus forfeiting his opportunity to enter Eretz Yisroel. Sandwiched in between these two topics is the death of Miriam. The Torah merely states that Miriam died and was buried and then the people complained about water. It is noteworthy that we always find Miriam mentioned regarding water. Her first appearance is by the Nile River watching over her baby brother Moshe. We then discover Miriam leading the women in song at the Reed Sea. Fast forward to Miriam and Aharon talking about Moshe’s greatness and their own prophetic abilities. HaShem appears to them and they cry, “water, water,” as they were not in a state of purity that warranted HaShem’s speaking to them. Finally, the Torah states that Miriam died and there was no water. The Gemara (Taanis 9b) states that the well that journeyed with the Jewish People in the Wilderness was in the merit of Miriam. Seems like it’s obvious why Miriam merited this. After all, she was always doing amazing things by the water. Nonetheless, we need to understand a little more why Miriam was the catalyst for the water.
The Gemara (Taanis 9b) states that when Miriam died, the well disappeared, and returned in the merit of Moshe and Aharon. One must wonder why if the well came back, why was it necessary for Moshe to speak to the rock? The water was right there, available for everyone to take as always. The answer is that although the well returned, HaShem wanted Moshe to use his דעת, intellect, to draw out the water. Moshe, however, chose to use his staff to draw out water, and he was punished for this error.
The Rambam (Hilchos Mikavos 11:12) writes that immersing in a mikveh symbolizes the מי הדעת, the waters of knowledge. Indeed, regarding the future it is said (Yeshaya 11:9) כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת יְהוָה כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים, for the earth wil be as filled with knwoledge of HaShem as water covering the sea bed. Knowledge is like water. One cannot ever get enough knowledge. Similarly, the world constantly needs water to survive. The Middah of Moshe is נצח, eternity. Miriam sought to be connected to the eternity that Moshe embodied.
It is noteworthy that that the name מרים contains the letter מים and the letter ר. The letter ר in א”ת ב”ש is ג, which symbolizes the three primary incidents in Miriam’s life regarding water. When Miriam was watching over Moshe, it is said (Shemos 2:4) וַתֵּתַצַּב אֲחֹתוֹ מֵרָחֹק לְדֵעָה מַה יֵּעָשֶׂה לוֹ, his sister stationed herself at a distance to know what woyld be done with him. Miriam was essentially watching over the דעת of the Jewish People. When Moshe did not use his דעת to draw out water, he was punished with death. HaShem should grant us the ability to use our דעת in the appropriate manner and then we will merit the מי הדעת with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Have a KNOWLEDGEABLE Shabbos and A fulFILLING Rosh Chodesh!