Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Miriam’s Well and Hebrew Letters Ascending from Tzin Wilderness

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Hukat/Decree (Numbers 19:1-22:1)

The entire Israelite community came to the Tzin Wilderness in the first month and the people stopped in Kadesh. It was there that Miriam died and was buried. The people did not have any water, so they began demonstrating against Moses and Aaron. (Numbers 20:1, 2)

In the Tzin Wilderness where Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, ended her journey, the 7 torah letters crowned with tagin ascended.

Little 3-pronged tagin crown letters of heavy words of hardship to lighten them for their heavenward ascent when the Torah is read.

Hebrew letters in the everyday world meet tagin in the emotional world where compassion, strength, success, and splendor surround beauty.

On a rocky cliff overlooking the Tzin Wilderness, Mel and his students attached tagin made of balloons attached to rainbow painted letters.

As the weather balloons filled with hydrogen (helium was not available) ascended, an eagle spiraled up around them.

Miriam’s brothers ascended to mountain tops and engaged in priestly rites while she brought spirituality down to earth – Torah to water.

Miriam’s life was linked to water. She saved baby Moses floating on the Nile and led singing and dancing on crossing the Red Sea.

The Israelites were sustained by water from Miriam’s well that followed them through their desert wanderings.

The Arizal, Rabbi Isaac Luria, taught that on entering the Land of Israel, Miriam’s well reappeared gushing water beneath the Sea of Galilee.

He took his student Chaim Vital in a boat on the Sea above Miriam’s well, opposite pillars of an old synagogue, and gave him water to drink.

The Arizal said, “Now you will attain wisdom from this water.” From then on, Chaim Vital felt he was entering the depths of Torah wisdom.

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.
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