Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Beshalach - 5774
During their long journey in the desert Hashem provided the Children of Israel with a very unusual source of water. It was a well that came out of a rock that accompanied the people from place to place as they wandered in the wilderness. It is known as Miriam's well. The Midrash notes that in the merit of Miriam the Jewish people had water for their forty year journey.
Often the reference to water in the Chumash alludes to Torah knowledge. Consequently what Miriam provided for the nation was more than just water, it was a spiritual message. To understand the message we must analyze the essence of Miriam.
The spelling of Miriam's name is identical to the spelling of the word marim- bitter. The greatness of Miriam was her perfect faith in Hashem even in situations that appear to be bitter. The Torah does not tell us much about Miriam's life, but the little we know about her reveals this characteristic. The Talmud notes that when Miriam was but a child she convinced her father, Amram, to remarry her mother and continue having children, despite Pharaoh's sadistic decree to have Jewish infants murdered.
This quality of acceptance of Hashem’s will which characterized Miriam had a strong positive influence on the Jewish people, and gradually they came to emulate her and learned the lesson of Miriam's well-to accept Hashem’s will even when it appears to be bitter because eventually its sweetness will emerge.