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Dvar Torah - Behaalotecha

It has been a long time since I have written this column. Six weeks ago, I was knocked off my bike by a driver. Since then, I have been forced to take a step back from everyday activities while I recover from my injuries. While my recovery has progressed, I have spent much time reflecting on the event and the many blessings in my life. Three things have stood me in good stead over the last month and a bit: My wonderful family looked after me patiently while I could not perform my usual tasks. Our amazing community. So many people cooked for us, reached out to help us, made allowances when I couldn't perform my usual roles, visited, drove the kids (and me) places, did our shopping, and generally made this time much easier. Prayer and faith in Hashem.

All three elements play a crucial, sometimes overlapping role in recovery. Without any of them, my health now (both physical and mental) would be far worse, and I would be much further from returning to myself. This week, Miriam, our most extraordinary prophetess, is struck down with Tzara'at. Afflicted with a terrible divine disease, she is exiled from the camp and her family until she recovers. Her family, community, and prayer all play essential roles in helping her return to where she was before.

Family. Miriam suffers from Tzara'at as punishment for casting aspersions on her brother Moshe in conversation with her other brother, Aharon. Moshe might have felt vindictive or angry at her, but we see no such thing. Instead, Moshe implores Hashem to heal her. Aharon also beseeches Moshe to help her. Miriam suffered, but not alone. Her family was by her side, helping carry her through the difficult time.

Community. The Torah relates that the Children of Israel did not travel while Miriam was outside the community. They waited for her. Rabbi Ovadia Sforno explains that this occurred even though the clouds of glory rose from above the Mishkan, which would usually indicate that it was time for them to move to their next encampment. However, this time, the Jews understood that it was different and that they should wait for Miriam to rejoin them, which she would do after seven days.

Prayer. After the disease struck Miriam, Moshe prays for her to heal, and Hashem answers him that she would heal within seven days. Prayer has tremendous power. We don't always understand how, but prayer can change our fate to a better one. I was fortunate that after the accident, I suffered no permanent injury. Afterwards, many people told me how they had prayed for me. I firmly believe those prayers were essential in enabling my (relatively) speedy return to health. Over the coming weeks, I look forward to gradually returning to Shule and my previous activities. In the meantime, I want to thank all in the community (and other communities) who have helped, thought of, and prayed for us.

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