Miriam The Prophetess
April –Mid Nissan
During the Passover Seder many of us bless a special glass of water to honor Miriam ha Neviyah
The great prophetess Miriam served as midwife to the physical and spiritual birth of Israel. According to Jewish legends, Miriam’s miraculous well of water (which accompanied the Israelites on the desert journey until her death) was created by God at twilight on the sixth day of creation.
Miriam’s inspiration enabled the people to leave their indentured status behind. She provided the stabilizing energy that kept the people together during the difficult time in the desert. (Evidenced by their inability to move forward when she was isolated with a disease) After the crossing of the sea, where the Torah describes her leading the women to celebrate with dancing and timbrels, she sets the direction for the future. In fact, the sages tell us that the liberation was based on the merit of the women, who gave joyous expression to receiving the law.
The Talmud attributes prophetic abilities to Miriam from childhood. when she foresaw the birth of Moses as redeemer, and persuaded her father Åmram re-marry their Mother, Yocheved. (they had divorced to avoid the Pharoah’s decree) It was Miriam who watched over the baby Moses floating down the Nile.
Miriam is also portrayed approaching the Egyptian princess to recommend hiring her mother Yocheved, as the wet-nurse for baby Moses (wonderful myth and great act of chutzpah). Her importance is further revealed in Moses' impassioned plea to God for her healing, which we use until today. (“Ana, El na, r’fa na la”)
Like her brothers, Moses and Aaron, she too dies with the kiss of the Shekhinah, confirming the words of the prophet Amos, who tells us that God has sent three great leaders – Moses, Aaron and Miriam.
Rabbi Leah is a published author, researcher and teacher. Much of her work has focused on the feminine (both divine and human) in Jewish tradition.
Rabbi Leah: Kabbalah by the Sea