This first handwashing is performed without a blessing over the action itself. Let us therefore draw our focus to role of water in the PassoverPassover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc). story.
“We begin our story with the first stirrings of Freedom. How was the desire for freedom first aroused? By the midwives Shifrah and PuahPuah, like Shifra, is one of the Hebrew midwives mentioned in Exodus 1 who defies Pharaoh's orders to kill the boy babies. This first act of defiance was instrumental in leading to the Israelite exodus from Egypt. Puah is often identified in the midrash with Miriam, Moses' older sister., who resisted Pharoah’s decree to drown every Israelite boy in the Nile. By MiriamMiriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance., who watched over her broth MosesThe quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe. to insure his safety. In the face of death, they advocated life…. The waters of freedom open and close our story, taking us from the Nile, to the Sea of Reeds.” (A Night of Questions: A Passover HaggadahLit. "Telling.” The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, and legend. There are many different version of the Haggadah produced throughout Jewish history.)
The TalmudThe rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. teaches that Jews were given three gifts in the desert—the well of water, by the merit of Miriam, the pillar of clouds, by the merit of AaronBrother of Moses, chosen as Moses' interlocutor. His Hebrew name is Aharon. and the manna, by the merit of Moses. Tradition holds that Miriam’s is a well of healing waters, and that on Saturday nights after ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends., these healing waters flow through all the wells and natural springs of the world! Legend has it that anyone who drinks of waters originating from Miriam’s well will be immediately healed from all their afflictions.
This year, we cannot overstate how central water is been to maintaining our health. Nor can we adequately lament the fact that not everyone in this world has ready access to good, clean water. What should be the most basic human right, has quite unthinkably, become an unequally accessible privilege.
With tremendous gratitude, we give thanks for the water we are able to tap into freely in our lives. With great determination, we consider how more equitably to share it.
May healing waters pour forth over us all.
Every one of us. Everywhere, speedily and in our days.
May healers the world over be blessed with a well-spring of strength.
Part the seas before our nurses and doctors and health care workers.
As you turned the sea into walls of water for our ancestors, raise up mountains of protection around our healers, send them all they need, so they may walk through the torrents in safety and in health. And as the Israelites relied on each and every person to do their part to carry the community across to dry land, so may we be vigilant in sharing our healing resources as they are now, and as they emerge across the horizon.