We add a cup of water next to our Seder plate, to draw attention to the importance of Miriam, Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Bitya, and the other women of the Exodus story, women who have sometimes been overlooked. Pharaoh pays little mind to the women, yet it is their daring actions that began it all. Tradition says, "If it wasn’t for the righteousness of women of that generation we would not have been redeemed from Egypt" (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b)
Water played a role in Miriam’s life from the first time we meet her, watching over the infant Moses on the Nile, through her triumphant crossing of the Red Sea. She led the Israelites in song and dance at the shores of the Red Sea, transforming what might have been a terrifying escape into a celebration of freedom. The rabbis attribute to Miriam the well that traveled with the Israelites throughout their wandering in the desert. When Miriam died, the waters dried up. The people mourned the slave child who waited by a river, the woman who danced across a sea, the leader who sang a nation to freedom. When the springs flowed once more, they named them Miriam’s Well.
Miriam’s Cup, the kos Miriam, is a symbol of all that sustains us through our own journeys. It represents the living waters, God’s gift to Miriam, which gave new life to Israel as we wandered the desert. May our questions and our stories nourish us as Miriam’s Well renewed our people’s spirits.
Blessed are You God, Who brings us from the narrows into the wilderness, sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach new places.
Pour water from Miriam's Cup into each participant's cup.
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