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By Rabbi Dovid Siegel | Series: | Level:

(3, 13)

“And it will be when the palms of the feet of the Kohanim, who carry the ark of Hashem – Master of the entire world – rest in the Jordan waters, the waters from above will cease to flow and will pile up.” This passage indicates that at the moment when the Kohanim position themselves in the water, the Jordan will come to an immediate halt and begin piling up.

This experience differs greatly from at the Reed Sea where the water split and froze to become a solid block. At the Jordan; however, the water continued flowing to its designated point and then piled up. The upshot of this is that the key factor at the Jordan was the presence of Hashem and its effect upon the water. The water continued flowing until it reached the presence of Hashem atop the holy ark and then came to an immediate halt. The water then began piling up in its place as if to indicate its total paralysis in the presence of Hashem. The water’s response served as a perfect reflection of the manner in which the nations would respond to their sense of this presence, totally petrified and paralyzed.


And it was when the people travelled from their tents to cross the Jordan, and the Kohanim, bearers of the ark of the covenant, were before the people.” This detailed account includes the fact that the people travelled from their tents, a detail with seemingly little significance. Why are we concerned about the exact position of the people before departing towards this miraculous experience?

A more careful look at this; however, will reveal a profound lesson. The Scriptures indicate that the Jewish people went directly from their tents to the miraculous splitting of the Jordan. This phenomenon seems peculiar – going from mundane household involvement to the open revelations of Hashem. Wouldn’t a few hours of serious focus and preparation be in line before going through such a magnificent experience?

The answer may be that this fact in itself was an important lesson for the Jewish people. Remember, the miracle at the Jordan was but a prelude to their subsequent ongoing experiences. Although this was their first, it certainly wouldn’t be their last miracle. Upon entering Eretz Yisroel, the Jewish people were required to condition themselves to a life of spirituality and miracles. Although they would continue to function undernatural conditions and circumstances, they were expected to be prepared for a miracle at any given moment. Each victorious battle could never have been fought under normal conditions and required tremendous assistance from above. In essence, they were required to conduct their mundane activities on a plane of spirituality worthy of an immediate miraculous response of victory, if necessary. It is for this reason that Yehoshua brought the people directly from their tents – their mundane activities – to the site of the miracle. This demonstrated to the people their worthiness and readiness to experience Hashem’s miracle at any and every given moment.

(3, 15)

“And when the bearers of the ark came to the Jordan and the feet of the Kohanim – bearers of the ark dipped into the water and the Jordan was full on all its banks all harvest days…” This passage seems to be somewhat wordy and repetitive. It mentions the bearers of the ark in an unidentified manner and then follows immediately by repeating their function, this time identifying them as the Kohanim.

This seems to suggest that the significance of the Kohanim’s identity was directly related to their setting foot into the Jordan. In general it was the task of the Levites to carry the holy ark. However, for this miraculous experience it was necessary for the Kohanim to fulfill this role. The Scriptures hint here to the necessity of the Kohanim in this miracle. When the ark approached the Jordan there was an intense revelation of Hashem with the Divine Presence sensed in extreme proportions. Such sanctity called for the Kohanim who constantly served in the presence of this intensity in the Sanctuary itself. Only they could absorb this intense feeling of Holiness which permeated the air directly surrounding them. For this reason, the Scriptures identify the bearers of the ark to be the Kohanim at this exact point, thus indicating their moment of service which could only be accomplished by them.

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