This week’s Torah portion Behaa’lot’kha (Num. 8:1 – 12:16) has many remarkable events, but perhaps none more remarkable than Aaron’s and Miriam’s confrontation with their brother, Moses. They speak against Moses because he married a Cushite woman. God’s anger is stirred against Aaron and Miriam, and he calls all three of them into the Tent of Meeting, backing Moses completely and thoroughly. And when God’s presence left the sanctuary, Miriam was stricken with leprosy, covered in snow-white scales. And Moses cried out to God with a simple but fervent five-word prayer: “God, please heal her, please.”
In his early years, Miriam saved Moses’ life by placing him in the basket of reeds to avoid Pharaoh’s death decree for newborn Israelite boys. Now, Moses’ heartfelt prayer moves God to heal Miriam, and God does heal her.
The prayer that Moses uttered to heal his sister is still used as a prayer of healing today. Songwriter Debbie Friedman, of blessed memory, wrote a lovely melody for it, and it is inscribed on wall hangings, amulets, scarves, blankets and other objects of comfort. It is the best we can do for those we love: to pray these simple words for what we desperately want.