Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Chukas - 5777
Immediately after the passing of Miriam, the Torah tells us, "There was no water for the people.” The Talmud notes that indeed, it was in the merit of Miriam that the miraculous well provided water for the nation throughout their journey in the wilderness. With the passing of Miriam, they lost the merit and thus their source for water. One might wonder why Miriam was the one that benefited the people with water.
The Talmud notes that Miriam, saw and experienced bitterness in her lifetime. The word for bitter in Hebrew is MAR, the root of her name. Yet, this righteous woman taught that with a good attitude the bitter can become sweet.
When one eats any food or drinks a beverage, a Bracha is required. This is true even if the person has no desire for the specific item. Water, however, is different. A Bracha is recited only when the person has a need for it and is thirsty. Thus, what makes water enjoyable is the need, or the attitude towards it.
Thus, Miriam the teacher of attitude, provided for the nation the item that requires attitude to appreciate.