Not all prophets are created equal

The following verse (Dvarim 24:9) is recited by some congregations each day at the end of Shacharit (the morning service): “Remember what HaShem, your God did to Miriam on the way when you departed from Egypt.”

In Bamidbar, Chapter 12:1-2, Miriam and Aharon speak about Moshe and the Cushite woman that he married. They then continue, “’Is it only to Moshe that God has spoken? Did He not also speak to us?’ and God heard.”

God tells all three of them to go to Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting). He called to Aharon and Miriam to come out and He said (verses 6-8) “Please listen to My words. If there will be a prophet among you, I, God, will make Myself known to them in a vision; in a dream I will speak to him. That is not the case with My servant, Moshe; in My entire house he is trusted. Mouth to mouth I speak to him, in a vision and not in riddles; he gazes at the likeness of God; so why are you not afraid to speak about my servant, about Moshe?

In verse 9 we see that “God’s anger flared against them and He left.”

From God’s reaction we see that He was angry at Miriam and Aharon for trying to show that their prophecy was equal to Moshe’s.

Rav Kook, in Olot Reiyah, his commentary on the siddur, explains that we mention what happened to Miriam on a daily basis to remind us that not all of the prophets were the same. Miriam and Aharon comparing themselves to Moshe was a problem since no other prophet was on the same level as Moshe and no other prophet can cancel out Moshe’s prophecies. Even though it says at the end of the Torah (Dvarim 34:10) “And there has never arisen a prophet within Yisrael like Moshe, whom God knew face to face” it is important to constantly remember it.

The “top six list” of remembrances recited each morning are:

The Exodus from Egypt

Receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai

Amalek’s attack

The Golden Calf

Miriam

Shabbat

As we are reminded of this list each morning, may we remember the mistakes of the past so that they are not repeated.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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