The first lesson in today's Daily Office readings has been aggravating me for years. Moses' two siblings, Miriam and Aaron, become jealous of Moses and begin kvetching. Between the two, Miriam has more to brag about. She is likely the sister who arranged for Moses to be spared as a baby and protected by the Pharaoh's daughter, all while having his very own mother for a nurse maid. But this was not one of her finest days, and God is displeased with both Miriam and Aaron.
For punishment, Miriam becomes leprous and is put outside the camp for seven days until God restores her. Aaron gets by with just a good scolding. Now, I don't go looking for gender discrimination behind every man cave, but this inexplicable disparity in sentence has always stuck in my craw.
Jewish commentators have twisted and turned to explain this story, but none of their offerings leave me content. But as I reread the story, one verse brings me comfort:
"So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days; and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again." Numbers 12:15
Miriam was pretty feisty, and the people must have enjoyed her company. She led the singing and dancing at the Red Sea. And the people resolved that no one was going anywhere until they were all going together. Miriam would not be left straggling from a distance.
Perhaps we should adopt the same approach: No one moves forward until we all move forward.