Miriam’s death (verse 20:1) is juxtaposed with another water crisis:
The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron. The people quarrelled with Moses, saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished at the instance of YHVH!…” (Numbers/Bamidbar 20:2-3)
This juxtaposition is one of the sources for the concept of “Miriam’s Well,” a movable source of water that followed the Israelites due to Miriam’s merit. (The cloud of glory, accompanying the Ark, was in Aaron’s merit; the manna, in Moses’ [Talmud tractate Ta’anit 9a].) For more on Miriam’s Well — including 15 traditional sources and one modern study — see entry #496 in Tree of Souls by Howard Schwartz (Oxford University Press, 2004).
“All you have to do is open up the book.” In a recent study-planning discussion for the Temple Micah (Washington, DC) group Kol Isha, I went off on a bit of a rant with this as my theme, insisting that anyone with the desire to do so can prepare to lead Torah-focused learning without leaning on an “expert.”
Shabbat Shirah is marked at Temple Micah (DC) — as in many congregations — with extra emphasis on the Song of the Sea, the Israelites’ praise-song to God after their escape from Egypt (Exodus Chapter 15). At Micah, the much-anticipated annual celebration incorporates special readings and musical selections; each year presents several settings of “Mi Chamocha” [“Who is like you, God?”] — the pre-Amidah prayer, taken in part from Exod. 15 and recalling the Israelites’ offering of “a shirah chadashah” [new song].