Dear Readers,

A teenager was complaining because her school had punished her for a misdemeanor, while her partner in crime had escaped even a reprimand. “Since her father is on the school board, they won’t punish her! How can I respect such an unfair system when the principal has no real principles?!”

At the conclusion of the shacharit (morning) prayers, we recite the Six Remembrances. These are six occurrences that happened at the birth of our nationhood. According to many authorities, we are obligated to remember them every day.

G‑d commands us to remember our Exodus, the revelation at Sinai and sanctifying the Shabbat day because they are integral to who we are and our destiny as G‑d’s people. Remembering Amalek’s G‑dless attack and our obligation to obliterate them also provides the necessary reminder of the danger of evil and how we must be on guard to eradicate it.

Even remembering our rebelliousness soon after receiving the Torah reminds us of the many times our nation erred and strayed, and to be careful not to repeat this pattern.

However, one of the remembrances has always struck me as odd: “Remember what G‑d did to Miriam on the way when you went out of Egypt.”

Miriam loved her younger brother, Moses, and when she heard that he had separated from his wife (not realizing that G‑d had instructed him to do so), she spoke to her brother Aaron about it. G‑d punished her with leprosy.

This daily remembrance reminds us not to speak ill of others or jump to conclusions about their behavior, even if we have positive intentions. The temptation is so great that we need to be reminded daily!

Nevertheless, there are other instances of evil talk, some of which caused far greater harm than Miriam. Moreover, the wording is curious in that it doesn’t remind us of what Miriam did, but rather “to remember what G‑d did to her . . . ”

Miriam saved Moses as a baby; she was a prophet, a holy woman and a righteous leader who taught and guided. She also had “powerful connections” as the sister of Moses. One would imagine that G‑d would overlook a minor misjudgment by a person of such stature!

Nevertheless, G‑d didn’t and commands us to remember this daily, so that we internalize that in G‑d’s book—because of her greatness—she needed to be an even better example.

We live in an imperfect world where it is easy to become cynical about justice, even among those meant to be our mentors or leaders. So often if feels like it’s not what you know, but who you know; it’s not about your personal integrity or effort, but your power or cunning.

And so, G‑d reminds us daily that ultimately, there is true justice. In G‑d’s system, you are seen for what you are, for what you accomplish and for what you aspire to be.

And that’s something worth remembering daily!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW