[And He did more good for them in that] three holy siblings walked amongst them. Who were they? They were Moses, Aaron and Miriam. In their merit G‑d gave Israel presents from the spiritual realms [the Manna, the Clouds of Glory, and the well of Miriam, which nourished and prepared them physically as well as spiritually, enabling them to absorb the Torah]. The clouds of glory did not depart as long as Aaron was alive. This is as has been explained that Aaron was the right arm [representing chesed] of Israel. It is also hinted at by the verse "And the Canaanite king Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel had come through Atarim, and he fought Israel." (Num. 21:1)

Rashi says that Arad heard that Aaron had died and that the protective clouds of glory had departed. He also heard that they had come through Atarim, the Aramaic translation of which is simply "places". This hints that they had started to wander as they lacked the precise guidance of the clouds.

[They wandered] like a person lacking a forearm, who has to support himself at every place possible [to avoid falling]. Since [they appeared aimless] he fought Israel and took captives from them. This was because they were left without their right arm [Aaron].

Zohar, parashat VaYelech p.283b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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