On the 10th of Nissan, over a hundred women and young girls meet up on the shores of the Kinnereth in Tiberias. They gather here from all over Israel. This April, they came from Jerusalem, Hebron, Modi’in, Beit Shemesh, Pardes Chana, Beit El, Tzfat and the Golan.
They arrived with tambourines, drums, shofars, flutes and violins, holding silky scarves in pink, aqua blue, yellow and white. Excitedly, they waited to board the King David, exuding a spirit of joy and warmth.
The 10th of Nissan is the yahrzeit or the hillula of our biblical Miriam, the sister of Moshe and a true prophetess. She is called Miriam haNeviah for she prophesied that her mother Yocheved would give birth to the redeemer of the Jewish People. As a little girl, she stood by the Nile and watched over her baby brother Moshe until the daughter of Pharaoh found him in a basket.
As a midwife (the biblical Puah), she was able to save thousands of Jewish baby boys from death. Miriam was also the first leader of Jewish women, strengthening them as they left behind slavery in Egypt.
When the Jewish people reached the Sea of Reeds with the Egyptian army in hot pursuit, it was Miriam who inspired the women to cross --and when they reached the other side in safety, it was Miriam who sang and danced a song of thanks to G-d.
She wandered with them in the desert, nurturing the people with much needed water from the well that accompanied the people on their long, difficult journey. She never gave up hope for the redemption of her people and died at the age of 126, exactly one year before the Jewish people finally entered the Promised Land.
And when the people crossed the Jordan River into Israel, we are told that Miriam’s Well poured into the Kinnereth so that Israel would always be blessed by water. There is a teaching that locates this well in the water between Kever Rachel (the wife of Rabbi Aviva) and Kever Meir Baal HaNess. Her special well, we are told, was created on the second day of the creation of the world. It was the same well Abraham received as a gift for his kindness looking after the three angels who asked him for water.
And on the 10th of Nissan this year, the women came from afar to honor the spirit of Miriam danced above the ‘well’ that lies beneath the waters of the Kinnereth.
They celebrated with live music and dance. They sang Tehillim and swayed their bodies in unison, spelling out the Hebrew letters of Miriam’s name. They spoke of gratitude for the abundance of rain we received in Israel this past winter. They lifted scarves that fluttered in the wind and blew shofarot that echoed across the waves.
And as the sun set behind the mountains, dappling the sky with pink and orange, they danced and sang with more intensity, fervor and unity. Just as Miriam the Prophetess never gave up hope for the Jewish people, these women, who came from all over the country, showed a firm belief in a final redemption and unity for the Jewish nation today.
Tiberias is a scenic 45-minute drive from Villa Tiferet. Tickets for this annual festive cruise are 70 NIS.