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We learn how Miriam—whose name means both “bitterness” and “rebellion”—did not respond passively to the bitterness of her people’s plight, but instead rallied the women of her generation to have faith that freedom would soon come.

Miriam, Mother of Rebellion

Miriam, Mother of Rebellion

Lesson 3: Conviction and Belief


Miriam, Mother of Rebellion - Part 3: Lesson 3: Conviction and Belief

We learn how Miriam—whose name means both “bitterness” and “rebellion”—did not respond passively to the bitterness of her people’s plight, but instead rallied the women of her generation to have faith that freedom would soon come.
III. Conviction & Belief--Commentaries p.11-13, III. Conviction & Belief--Text p.9-10
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Beshalach, Shemot, Miriam, Struggle, Challenge & Adversity

Miriam’s name has two meanings, both of which exemplify the qualities of her character.

The first, from the Hebrew root mar, is “bitterness.”

Witnessing the murders and the torment around her, she wept with her brethren, praying incessant prayers, and hoping beyond hope for a better future.

Personally exposed to the decrees of the wicked Pharaoh, no one could understand the bitterness of the exile better than Miriam.

Another meaning of Miriam’s name is “rebellion” (from the root meri).

Despite being born into the most difficult period of oppression, Miriam rebelled from an early age against the slave mentality engulfing her people.

Though she felt their pain acutely, she would not succumb to fear or despair. Though she was exposed to abject cruelty, she would not yield to moral corruption or apathy.

Standing watch on the bank of the Nile, as the future of her entire nation hung in balance, never did her faith in redemption falter.

As the leader of the women, Miriam imbued their aching hearts with this quality. And it was this quality that empowered the righteous women to be the purveyors of the redemption.

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Ideas for Discussion
Even in the darkest moments of struggle and challenge, we can choose to fan and nurture the small flame of belief and courage.
Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Laura Beth Aaron Bartlett, NH August 9, 2011

Belief and Conviction I started a life of conviction to the vegan, animal rights movement, after learning of the horrors and unfathomable suffering we, Jews and others, cause needlessly to sentient creatures. Jews still justify consuming animal parts using Torah permission as their excuse. Could the Torah truly guide Jews to eat the bodies of animals who suffer so? Have Jews LOOKED inside slaughterhouses, kosher included to witness these daily atrocities for themselves, or do they mindlessly eat what makes them ill, causes environmental devastation, because of selfish desire to eat this way?
My conviction is shedding light on the darkness of slaughtering animals who feel pain, love their young, want freedom and peace, mercy and compassion, as we do.
When brute force is used to end billions of lives prematurely( lives only here because we breed them to eat) I think G-d mourns how His children behave.
Go vegan....FOR LIFE!
Shalom and peace to ALL beings. Reply

Sabrina Frederick, m August 2, 2011

Miriam Lecture Series Thank you so much for such a wonderful lecture series! I really love learning and listening to your shiurim (classes) and am looking forward to the next two parts. I do hope you do more shiurim about other women in the Torah. It's very inspiring. You are a wonderful teacher. Thank you. Reply

Joanne UK August 1, 2011

Thank you! Really enjoying this series - thank you Chana! Reply

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