"And Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel." (Deut. 31:1)

Rabbi Chiya opened his discourse [about this verse] with a quote, "Who caused His glorious arm to lead the right hand of Moses, parting the waters before him, to make Himself an everlasting name?" (Isaiah 63:12)

Note that "molich", the Hebrew word for "to lead", and "vayelech", meaning "went", share the same Hebrew root - "lech".

Happy is Israel, that the Holy One Blessed be He chose them and because He chose them, called them "sons" [from the aspect of their Nefesh and Ruach which are rooted in the union of Zeir Anpin and Nukva], "firstborn", "holy", and "brothers" [when they received a Neshama from the union of Abba and Imma at Mount Sinai].

Aaron was the right arm of Israel….

[After the revelation of the Torah,] He came down to dwell among them [in the Tabernacle - in Hebrew, "Mishkan", from whence we get the word "Shechinah"], as is referred to in the verse: "And they will make Me a Tabernacle ['Mishkan'] and I will dwell [in Hebrew, 'shachanti'] among them". (Ex. 25:8) [And in order to prepare them for this] the Holy One Blessed be He wished to rectify them [spiritually] so they would be like the angels in the spiritual world [by arranging the camp according to four main flags]. He caused the Clouds of Glory to hover over them and the Shechina to proceed before them; this is the meaning of the verse: "And G‑d went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire." (Ex. 13:21)

[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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