Rightfully Rewarded
By Dovi Scheiner

Learning from his astrologers that the savior of Israel had just been born, Pharaoh decreed that all male infants be tossed into the Nile.

For three months, Yocheved managed to hide her baby Moshe. When this was no longer possible, Yocheved set Moshe within a floatable basket, which she placed among the reeds at the bank of the river. Miriam, the sister of Moshe, stationed herself at a distance to know what would be done with him.

Arriving at the river to bathe, the daughter of Pharaoh discovered the crying infant and took pity on him. Seeking to comfort Moshe, she passed him around to many Egyptian women to nurse, but he would not nurse from them.

Observing this scene, Miriam approached the daughter of Pharaoh and offered to summon a Jewish nurse. Pharaoh’s daughter agreed and soon Yocheved arrived and Moshe was calmed.

Registering Moshe’s refusal to nurse from an Egyptian woman, it was only a matter of time before the daughter of Pharaoh would have realized on her own the need for a Jewish nurse. So what was achieved by Miriam’s advice?

Miriam’s advice was a matter of expedience; her presence effectively shortened Moshe’s period of pain and discomfort.

Later in life it happened that Miriam made the error of speaking harshly of Moshe. The wrath of Hashem flared up and Miriam became afflicted with leprosy. Miriam would have to spend seven days in quarantine "outside of the camp" of Israel, during which time she would be cured and then return to the camp.

The existence of an "outside the camp" is, of course, dependant upon the existence of a camp. Movement by the camp of Israel would have interrupted the existence of such a place, invalidating Miriam’s quarantine station and introducing delay to the fulfillment of her penalty.

"So Miriam was closed away outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not journey until Miriam was brought in."

Having lingered long ago to see after the welfare of her younger brother, Miriam merited having an entire people pause while she served out her sentence! Having rushed to relieve baby Moshe of all pain and discomfort, Miriam merited the completion of her punishment in a manner most expedient!

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos vol. 18, B’Haaloscha.)

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