We meet them week by week in the Torah readings - Moses, Aaron and Miriam, siblings after whom countless Jews have been named by loving parents who prayed that their offspring would emulate the virtues of their Biblical namesakes. But every child brings its own blessing, as Yiddish proverbs are fond of telling us. In a family, any family, each child is likely to be quite different. And that was the case with the Moses-Aaron-Miriam family too. Each became a great leader and exemplar, but each made a unique contribution.
Moses’ task was with the people as a whole. He saw the big picture. He dreamed the great dreams and saw the broad visions. When the people lived up to their potential he rejoiced; when they lapsed he wept and pleaded with God to forgive them. Aaron watched over the well-being of the individual Israelite, making peace between those who had quarrelled and exerting himself for every single soul. Miriam’s concern was aroused by the weak and defenceless, especially the children. Even before Moses was born and needed her protection, she was already, say the rabbis, encouraging the Israelites to have children and trust that God would uphold them.
Every community needs a spectrum of leadership in which each role will be performed, each task attended to, each need satisfied. No one leader can or should try to be Moses, Aaron and Miriam all at the same time. But if a community can find a team like the three Biblical siblings and know that each has their own special contribution to make, it is a fortunate community indeed.