Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The end of the triumvirate

This past Shabbos, I posed the question: if Moshe and Aharaon were told that the reason they were barred from entering E"Y and were to die in the midbar, why did Miriam have to die? My husband searched around a bit and found: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=51441&pgnum=142

ג] ותמת שם מרים, זו מתה בלבד מכל
 הנשים שיצאו ממצרים, שלא מתה אשה
 במדבר, שנאמר (יהושע ה, ד) כל העם היוצא
 ממצרים הזכרים כל אנשי המלחמה מתו, ולא
 הנקבות, תו למה מתה מפני הבאר שנתנה
 בשבילה שלא היה אפשר לה שתהא קיימת והבאר
 שנתנה בזכותה מסתלקת. דבר אחר, מפני שהיא
 שוה למשה ולאהרן בגדולה, ששלשתן היו
 פרנסים טובים לישראל, שאינו בדין שיסתלקו
 ומרים קיימת לכך קדמה תחלה ומתה.
  (מדרש אספה)


To translate: Miriam was the only one among the woman who left Egypt who died. None of the others dd , as we learn from the verse in Yehoshua, which tells us that all the nation that left Egypt died. The males, all who went to war died, and not the female. She died before the well that was in her merit was removed, for it was not possible for the well not to remain if she were gone. Another reason is because she was the equal to Moshe and Aharaon in [spiritual] greatness, for the three of them were the good sustainers for Israel. And it would not be right that the two brothers would be removed, and Miriam would remain. Therefoer, she was taken first.

The first part stresses that Miriam's death is even more remarkable because no other woman died in the midbar.   Her death, then, is not attributed to any misdeed on her part bu to necessity -- rather utilitarian, or should I say Vulcan, as the needs of the many outweigh that of the one. Here the Israelites' need to transition to another stage with new leaders and without the miraculous well outweigh the individual's  life.  She dies for the greater good. One positive note: the latter view stresses her place as the leader for the Israelites, and just as her brothers would be removed from their positions, so would she.






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