Parashat Hukkat

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Miriam, whose death is recorded in Parashat Hukkat, embodied the honor and glory of the women of Israel.

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“Thus they were given the opportunity to inspire their grandchildren and great-grandchildren with the spirit of the God-revealing experience they themselves had witnessed. The fact that these Jewish women were so deeply and thoroughly imbued with the Jewish spirit may be ascribed in no small part to Miriam, who set them a shining example as a prophetess."

A Word

While some might point to the lack of mourning following the death of Miriam to be yet another example of chauvinism in the Torah, it is perhaps more a reflection of the simple fact that we mourn what we have lost. We mourned the loss of Moses because no matter how great a leader Joshua was, he would never be another Moses. We mourned the loss of Aaron because no matter how great a leader Eleazar was, he would never be another Aaron.

The greatness of Miriam was that she was the embodiment of the honor and glory of the women of Israel. Moses, Aaron and Miriam were not misled by falsehoods and lies or controlled by a desire for instant gratification. Rather, they held fast to the way of life that makes us who we are. Our ancestors knew that they had not lost Miriam, but that her essence is contained within every Jewish woman.

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Rabbi Ed Rosenthal

Rabbi Ed Rosenthal is the Campus Rabbi and Executive Director of Cornell Hillel: The Yudowitz Center for Jewish Campus Life.