Dear Chevre,


As you might be aware, Bowen Island's Shirat HaYam celebrated Parshat Beha'alotcha with the welcoming of our own Torah! Our scroll's age is about two hundred years old and it was written in Germany.  I contributed this d'var to our service for several reasons.


Though I do not know my great grandmother's name nor her birthplace, I do know that she lived in Germany and very likely at the time of the reading of this Torah.  I know that my great grandmother's life was very hard. Several years ago I wrote a story for Keren Or entitled The Promise. That story was inspired by what I knew of my grandmother's life. I doubt that my great grandmother was ever able to read or hold a Torah. How wondrous and miraculous it is that her great granddaughter could hold one and perhaps a Torah that was near to my great grandmother in her life!   My offering also honoured and remembered our beloved Rabbi Nomi Oren Ehren Lis z'l whose presence kindled us all and who brought the light of Torah to us on our little island before it ever arrived in its physical form.   So in gratitude for all that my dear friend brought to me and to us, for all that my great grandmother endured and for the love that she sent forth into our world, this d'var was dedicated to Nomi and to my great grandmother. I send an excerpt from my d'var to all of you.







Parshat Beha'alotcha


With my thanks to all on Bowen Island in our very holy community for welcoming me to open and share this parsha and thank you to

Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair

Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan

My Beloved Zelik


Our  parsha  this week is the thirty - sixth (A double chai)  Beha'alotcha means to cause to go up or to cause the mounting or to cause to raise up the lighting.  Causing to go up implies that something causes us the need to go up -- perhaps we would not go up unless there was a reason for us to go up, and I offer that this parsha is about the necessity of the wilderness and the instruction of the way to go up in the midst of it; for this place of barrenness, hunger, fear, anger, unknowing, confusion  is the place of our greatest need. It is this place which may offer us the way to find our strongest deepest connection to the divine.   I offer that the wilderness place is a necessary place, an important part of our becoming holy. And our parsha is filled with  G-d's instructions- how do we go up to G-d, how do we raise up our lights in the surround of our wilderness. 


In response to these questions, I offer my own midrash about Miryam.

Here are a few notes before reading "How Miryam Raised Up The Light"


Inside this parsha are two prayers uttered by Moshe. After traveling out Moshe prays.  "Arise Oh G-d and scatter your enemies! Let your foes flee before you."  When it came to rest, he said  "Return O G-d to the myriads of Israel's thousands."


In the Torah, this prayer is set apart by the insertion of two upside down nuns.  Kabbalist scholar Edward Hoffman writes that Nun represents the number 50 and Nun symbolizes faith and vibrancy in spiritual life. Nun begins the Hebrew word prophecy (Navooah) and prophet (Navi). 


A second prayer is uttered by Moshe at the end of the parsha for Miryam's healing.  "El na refa na la."  Na is a nun followed by an aleph. Though, Na may be translated as, please, there is a teaching that the na has no word meaning.  As a double letter, Nun opens and closes the Hebrew word niggun meaning melody or tune and in Jewish tradition, music has always been prized as a spiritual force, a doorway to transcendent experience.


Miryam means bitter water and also water dropping




How Miryam Raised Up The Light



The night that G-d sent Miryam out

There was a terrible silence in the camp

for as Miryam was stricken

so were they all

because many believed in secret

that it was Miryam who carried their sickness and

and their bitterness away

and they were afraid about what might happen to them

In the centre of the wilderness

in the terrible silence of the camp

Miryam went outside the camp

and she carried her shame like a white hot torch

and it lit her way.


In the centre of her silence

she whispered to herself

I am angry

I have been forgotten

by G-d

Aharon and Moshe

hold the light and the power for all to see

while I, protecting for seven years before,

the life of my brother, am not honoured

No, instead I am punished


Here I am

See my body

covered with snow

I will be cold

I will be stubborn


Then she whispered

Hineini Adonai

Here I am

where you have put me

Miryam bitter water is here

My heart is ice

Here I am


My heart is bitter water frozen


She will not cry

She will not weep

for even Miryam's tears are bitter hail


Punished Prophetess stretches out her body

would sink down into the mantle of the wilderness

if the wilderness would have her but it will not

No one will have her

She is angry


The wind of the desert came up

rushing over her

and she felt the feathers of the dead quail blow against her hard and

the scent of death of the people and the birds was a blanket over her

She tasted it so that she choked on it and could not breathe

Miryam's anger is changed by the death scent.

Miryam is terrified that she will die too

and so her soul calls out to G-d

"Adonai, Don't put me here!"


Then the sickness was upon G-d's girl, the scales tight, pressing the breath out of her, and she fell into a senseless place


Now G-d loved Miryam, Beloved daughter, Beloved midwife,

Beloved prophetess

and so G-d sent two angels down to her outside the camp

The angels enfolded her

Oh, Miryam! They took her arms and lifted her up

then rose with her into the sky

Open your eyes Miryam they said

See What you could not see before!

so Miryam did that and looked down and back in time

to the Miryam that was before



She saw her desperation, her jealousy like a pall as she coveted what G-d had given to Aharon and Moshe. It was a cloud that separated her from the myriads.


She saw the striving nation kindled in the Darkness

with Aharon astride the lights of the seven branched menorah

the seven flames lighting the days of the weeks

bright with G-d's holiness

She saw her brother Aharon radiant with the going up

there in the wilderness with nothing but the instruction of

"how to light so that he could kindle the multitude"

And her heart felt his willingness and his joy and she was stirred by it

She saw the Levites there before him

with not one hair left on their bodies

to separate their skins from  the touch of holiness that came

from G-d's presence that shone from Aharon's fires

And she saw their courage

She saw Moshe her brother, fallen down and afraid and she saw

the seventy elders, G-d's appointed vessels, who came to hold

him up so that he would not shatter with the pain of all of those

who could not believe

And She heard his prayer

And Miryam's heart felt his travail that she had not never seen before and her jealousy at him begins to dissolve


Then Miryam heard a great wailing below

Miryam turns in question to the angels

and she sees them

she beholds them

Changing form

not beings holding her up

but nuns of Blue and gold making a portal above her

a portal below her

The angels let her go down then

through this portal of the angel's bodies

so that she came down

to the wailing below

She came down into the centre of the wailing

coming in the quail cloud to the people who hungered and would not believe

She felt herself a bird

caught and fed upon

so that her body disappeared as those that fed upon her disappeared

and her spirit - only her spirit remained

a silver thread

held by the divine one

stretched between heaven and earth


In the darkness

in the fragile promised shimmer of life

She feels the tug to live earth and her love but she is blinded

the soul of Miryam  cries out to G-d

Show me the way to go up.  I do not know how to go up, Shaddai.

My pain was my path and it has led me away from everyone, even from myself, but not from you.

"Show me how to go up" her soul cries out


El na refa na la

The singing words are a path shining in the dark

El na refa na la Moshe callschants the healing prayer

The words from the love in him calling to G-d to send his sister back

and the breath of G-d rush through the silver thread of

Miryam to meet the prayer

love to love

Miryam's  spirit becomes a silver nun connected to

heaven and connected to earth and she touches what was

always promised to her but which she could not feel through

her anger and underneath that, her fear

she feel's G-d's love of her


Miryam opens her eyes

Though it is dark

she can see her body

is still there


the scales falling away

armor falling away

until she sees herself

Miryam is newborn and clean

And she feels a rising up within her

A going up with her heart to El

with her faith and not her fear

And as she breathes

she feels her heart

a waterfall rushing

towards home



She looks across into the camp

to see the day dawning

Moshe and Aharon are waiting for her

They are all waiting for her

It has been a week

Hineini she calls out to them

standing up on colt's legs

the hail of her tears  is wet down her cheeks

and the water is pooling round her feet

I am willing

to come up as only I am



And so Miryam reenters the camp

and is surrounded by them all

because they could never go without her


All the myriads of Israel's thousands

receive her back and not in fear now

for Miryam is fearless

I am water dropping she says

and Miryam comes inside the camp

and she carries her love like a white hot torch streaming light between heaven and earth

and it lights their way.

And so they can all continue on . . .




Bracha Sivana

Sivan  21 5766





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