"Come, Avi. We can walk home from shul together."
"I'll be with you in half a minute, Chaim. I just have to finish saying the six zechiros (remembrances). I say them every morning after the Shacharis prayers."
"Really? What are they?"
"There are six events that the Torah commands us to remember. The first one is Yetzias Mitzrayim - the exodus from Egypt. The second is Shabbos. We are then commanded to remember Maamad Har Sinai. Subsequently, we must remember Amalek's attack on Klal Yisrael. We also recall how we angered Hashem when we were in the Midbar. Lastly, we must remember what Hashem did to Miriam."
"That's quite a list. Almost all of those remembrances were monumental events in history. Shabbos recalls the creation of the universe. Yetzias Mitzrayim was the birth of our nation. Maamad Har Sinai was Hashem's revelation to our entire nation. Amalek reminds us of what we stand for and what we are opposed to. Our sins in the desert remind us of Hashem's great acts of kindness, and our lack of appreciation. It is a reminder for all generations to appreciate The Almighty, to do a cheshbon hanefesh (self accounting) of our sins, and to do teshuva. These are all foundations of our history and our emunah. However, the last zechira was a private sin that Miriam committed. What is it doing in this list? It does not seem to be in the same league with all of the other zechiros."
"I puzzled over the same question myself, Chaim. The answer is not so apparent, however, after some pondering I think I have found the connection between Miriam and the others. First of all, let us review what Miriam did. It is found in this week's parasha (Bamidbar 12:1- 17). Miriam spoke to Aharon about Moshe Rabbeinu's conduct with his wife. Her statement implied that his level of prophesy was no higher than theirs. Moshe was very humble and was not offended by her statement at all. She only spoke privately to Aharon. She was only interested in her helping her brother, whom she loved very much. Her statement also contained praise, as she and Aharon were on a very high level of prophesy. Still, Hashem appeared to them immediately, commanding them to go to the Ohel Moed. He descended in a pillar of cloud, summoned Aharon and Miriam, and spoke to them. He explained to them in great detail the difference between Moshe's prophesy and their revelations. How could they dare speak against His servant Moshe? The cloud went away from the tent, and behold, Miriam was stricken with tsoraas! Aharon begged Moshe for mercy. Moshe begged Hashem to heal Miriam. Hashem responded that she must be quarantined outside the camp for seven days. The entire nation knew of her shame. However, they waited for her out of respect, just as she waited for her brother Moshe, the infant, by the river. And so, she was healed and they resumed their travels."
"What a powerful episode!"
"Yes, Chaim. The plague of tsoraas was a horrible disease. It struck those who committed very serious aveyros. Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch, in his commentary on parashas Ki Seitze (Devarim 24:8-9), explains that tsoraas came to teach us how to properly conduct ourselves toward our fellow Jews. Our thoughts, our speech, and our actions must all be pleasing to others. Hashem Himself monitors and judges our actions, and even our thoughts and feelings. He sends the plague of tsoraas to those who need tochacha (rebuke) in this area. Miriam spoke loshon hora against Moshe Rabbeinu when she underestimated his level of prophesy. Therefore, she was stricken with tsoraas."
"That is surely compelling, Avi. However, I still do not see why this event belongs in the list of zechiros along with Yetzias Mitzrayim and Maamad Har Sinai."
"Let me share with you a Gemora (Shabbos 31a), Chaim. A non-Jew came to Hillel with the following request, 'Convert me on the condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.' Hillel replied, 'That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. This is the entire Torah. The rest is just elaboration on this point. Now, go and learn it.'" "Amazing. The entire Torah is all about how we treat each other. Now I understand why Miriam is on this list! The plague of tsoraas comes to one who does not treat his fellow Jew properly. That is the entire Torah. Therefore Miriam's misdeed was a violation of the fundamental principal of the entire Torah!"
"Exactly, Chaim. Miriam teaches us the entire Torah on one foot. Remember it!"
Kinderlach . . .
We are always trying to summarize and condense ideas down to small, easily understandable, easily remembered phrases. If we constantly review these phrases, they and the ideas that they represent will always be with us. For this reason we find the six zechiros at the end of the morning prayers. The last one is to remember what Hashem did to Miriam. This is not a small private sin, rather a violation of the fundamental principle of the entire Torah! That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. Do not hurt him with thoughts, words or actions. This is the entire Torah. The rest is just elaboration on this point. That is the whole Torah on one foot. Kinderlach, Remember it!
Love Those Mitzvos
One year had passed since the exodus from Mitzraim. The time had arrived to offer up the Korbon Pesach. This was a mitzvah that all of Klal Yisrael participated in. However, some were not able to bring this sacrifice. Those who had contact with a dead body had become tomei (impure). They were prohibited from taking part in the Korbon Pesach. "Why should we be lessened by not offering Hashem's offering in its appointed time among the Children of Israel?" they asked (Bamidbar 9:7). Rashi relates that they requested the Kohanim to offer up the Korbon on their behalf. This would not help them because a Korbon may not be offered on behalf of one who is tomei. Yet they still wanted some share in this mitzvah. Why? Rav Moshe Feinstein points out their great love of mitzvos. Even when they were potur (exempt) from performing the mitzvah for legitimate reasons, they still longed to fulfill it.
Kinderlach . . .
The Jewish neshama (soul) craves Hashem's mitzvos. We love them so much. There was once a Jew who did not begin learning Gemora until late in life. Still, he had an ambition to finish all of Shas. He was well on his way, learning up a storm. Then he became ill. He was weak and in pain. Yet he was more distressed by the fact that he did not have the strength to hold the Gemora. He wanted to learn so badly. Oh, how he loved the mitzvah.
What should we do before asking someone for something? (Rashi 12:13)
What is the meaning of the name "Kivros HaTayva"? (11:34)
How did the lottery for the Sanhedrin work? (Rashi 11:26)
What happened to the original 70 elders? (Rashi 11:16)
"SIMCHA'S TORAH STORIES"
Kinder Torah is now available in .PDF format
Kinder Torah is now available in Hebrew
4400 copies of Kinder Torah are distributed each week in
Arzei Habira, Ashdod, Avnei Cheifetz, Bayit Vegan, Beit E-l, Beit
Shemesh, Beit Yisrael, Betar, Bnei Brak, Detroit, Edmonton, Ezras
Torah, Gateshead, Geula, Gilo, Givat Shaul, Givat Zev, Har Nof, Haifa,
Hayishuv Einav, Katamon, Kiryat Sefer, the Kosel HaMaaravi, Los
Angeles, Maale Adumim, Maalot Dafna, Manchester, Mattersdorf,
Mattisyahu, Mea Shearim, Miami Beach, Monsey, Netanya, Neve Yaakov,
Passaic, Philadelphia, Pisgat Zev, Queens, Ramat Gan, Ramat Sharet,
Ramat Shlomo, Ramot, Rannana, Rechasim, Romema, Rechovot, San Simone,
Sanhedria HaMurchevet, Shaare Chesed, Shevi Shomron, Telz Stone,
Toronto, Unsdorf , Zichron Yaakov, and on the Internet at
To support Kinder Torah, please contact the author at
Partial sponsorships are also available.
Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to email@example.com
Shema Yisrael Torah Network