In the wilderness of Kadesh, we lost Miriam, Moses and Aaron’s beloved sister. Unusually for a woman, Miriam was so important that her death was recorded in Torah. Certainly she was important to Moses because she was the one who put him in his little reed basket and floated him on the Nile when he was a baby. She saved his life!
She danced at the Red Sea when God delivered the Children of Israel from the Egyptians, singing a famous poem:
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.
Right after Miriam died, we learn that there was no water for the community. There came the usual complaints. Why did you bring us here to die in the wilderness? We used to have good food in Egypt: figs and pomegranates. And most of all, we used to have water!
God spoke to Moses. “Take your staff. Get everybody together. Bring in your brother Aaron. Speak to the rock in front of you and it will give water.”
Was Moses blinded by grief at his sister’s death? Was he just fed up with all the complaining? Whatever the reason, he didn’t speak to the rock. Instead he smacked it with his staff. Twice. Out came lots of water.
But God said to Moses, “You didn’t trust me in front of the Children of Israel. Therefore, you won’t lead them into the land I’m giving them.”
And there is nothing. Nothing in the Torah about what Moses answered in return.
Food for thought
Was it fair that Moses was not allowed in the Promised Land?