The eighth-graders were busy preparing for graduation. They were going to put on a presentation and everyone was assigned a job. Sarit was responsible for the scenery. As she was working one afternoon, her teacher, Mrs. Zack, called her.

"Sarit, you know Simi's mother had a baby and Simi needs to help at home in the afternoons. Simi's job was to arrange the props, and I would like you to take over for her. You are very talented and I am sure you will set up the props tastefully."

"Thank you for the compliment," Sarit said. "But scenery is what I do best. Wouldn't it be better if I just concentrate on my job and get it done well?"

"Come, Sarit," Mrs. Zack replied. "Let's take a short break from the paintbrush and do a bit of `living with the times.'

"In the Torah we read about the passing away of Miriam and Aaron. The Torah tells us that, in their merit, the Jewish people were accompanied by a well of fresh water and the clouds of glory on their journeys through the desert. When Miriam and Aaron passed away, the well and the clouds also disappeared."

"But," interrupted Sarit. "I remember learning that the well and the clouds accompanied the Jewish people right up to the day they entered Israel."

"That's right, Sarit. They did disappear with Miriam and Aaron's death, but they came back in the merit of Moses. And that's just what I wanted to discuss with you. The Torah tells us that the manna the Jewish people ate in the desert came in Moses' merit. Moses was a leader, and a leader knows and cares about his people and treats each one according to his needs. This is like manna - food which is given according to the needs of every person."

"That reminds me of the way our sages describe how Moses took the sheep out to pasture," said Sarit. "He let the young ones graze first because they needed the softest grass."

Mrs. Zack nodded. "Good, Sarit. Now perhaps you can figure out why the clouds of glory were in the merit of Aaron. I'll give you a hint - the clouds surrounded and protected all of the Jewish Nation, no matter who they were."

"Oh, I know," replied Sarit enthusiastically. "Aaron was a lover of Israel and no matter who they were."

"And Miriam," continued Mrs. Zack, "devoted herself to caring for the tiny babies in Egypt. Even in the depths of exile and turmoil, Miriam filled the people with life and hope. And in her merit came the water which flows from high places to low.

"Now, do you know why the clouds and the well came back in Moses merit? With Miriam and Aaron gone, Moses took upon himself to care for the Jews and fill in, devoting himself to the tasks that Miriam and Aaron had performed. This is what a leader is, a person who takes responsibility when the need arises, even if the tasks had originally been performed by others.

"Every Jew must learn from Moses. We too must do what has to be done. Even when we are dedicated to our specific job, we must be willing to take on more when the need arises."