The Virtues of Patience

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Parshas Behaaloscha

The Jewish people were ready to move. They were on their way to Eretz Yisroel. But Miriam couldn’t move. Miriam became ill with Tzoraas and had to be in quarantine for seven days. Three million people were ready, but one – Miriam – was not. Should three million people wait for one Miriam? The leadership of Israel discussed it and decided that Miriam was worth it. They remembered back when Miriam placed her brother Moshe, the leader of Israel, in a basket on the Nile and then waited to see what would happen to him. Miriam waited for Moshe, they reasoned, we will wait for Miriam.

Let’s go back to that moment. Miriam took her baby brother, wrapped him up in a blanket and placed him at the mercy of the current and the waves. She waited at the river bank to see what would happen. Of course she waited. Who wouldn’t wait? I often wonder why Miriam was the only one who waited. Where were Moshe’s parents Amram and Yocheved? Weren’t they concerned and curious about their infant son?

Throughout history, Jewish parents often had to question the wisdom of bringing another child in to this world. Because of the brutal Egyptian policy, Amram and Yocheved decided not to have any more children. The young Miriam was disturbed by her parent’s decision. She began to lobby her parents not to separate from each other and to have more children in spite of Pharaoh. ‘Why fulfill Pharaoh’s dream of no more Jewish children?” Amram and Yocheved listened to their daughter and Moshe was born. Amram, Yocheved and Miriam watched in awe as the whole room filled with light. Amram reached over to his daughter and kissed her on the forehead, “Your prophecy has been fulfilled!” he told her, “this child is definitely the savior of Israel.”

Then the agents of Egypt came searching for the new child to throw him into the Nile. Yocheved and Amram could hide Moshe no longer. So Miriam wrapped up her little prophecy, wrapped up the little beacon of light and placed brother Moshe in the Nile at the mercy of the tide. Amram and Yocheved said a final goodbye to their brief joy. Amram reached over to his daughter and slapped her on the hand. “So much for your prophecy!” Their hope of freedom had come and gone. It was a false high. Hope was gone for everyone except Miriam. Miriam continued to wait and to watch. She held on to her vision and wouldn’t give up. She understood that G-d does not always do things according to the way we feel they should be done. He does it His way, and His way surpasses all dreams. For that vision, for that valuable lesson, the Jewish people owed it to Miriam to wait. Out of respect they delayed their journey for seven days until she was ready to go.

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