Numbers 12:1

וַתְּדַבֵּ֨ר מִרְיָ֤ם וְאַהֲרֹן֙ בְּמֹשֶׁ֔ה עַל־אֹד֛וֹת הָאִשָּׁ֥ה הַכֻּשִׁ֖ית אֲשֶׁ֣ר לָקָ֑ח כִּֽי־אִשָּׁ֥ה כֻשִׁ֖ית לָקָֽח׃

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married, because he had married a Cushite woman

Rashi ad. loc.

ותדבר מרים ואהרן. הִיא פָתְחָה בְדִּבּוּר תְּחִלָּה, לְפִיכָךְ הִקְדִּימָהּ הַכָּתוּב

She opened the conversation, therefore Scripture mentions her first.

Numbers 12:2

וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ הֲרַ֤ק אַךְ־בְּמֹשֶׁה֙ דִּבֶּ֣ר יְהוָ֔ה הֲלֹ֖א גַּם־בָּ֣נוּ דִבֵּ֑ר וַיִּשְׁמַ֖ע יְהוָֽה׃

They said, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” The LORD heard it.

Numbers 12:10

וְהֶעָנָ֗ן סָ֚ר מֵעַ֣ל הָאֹ֔הֶל וְהִנֵּ֥ה מִרְיָ֖ם מְצֹרַ֣עַת כַּשָּׁ֑לֶג וַיִּ֧פֶן אַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶל־מִרְיָ֖ם וְהִנֵּ֥ה מְצֹרָֽעַת׃

As the cloud withdrew from the Tent, there was Miriam stricken with snow-like tzaraas! When Aaron turned toward Miriam, he saw that she was stricken with tzaraas.

As shown above, both Miriam and Aharon spoke about Moshe, yet the verse only says she was punished with tzaraas. The only difference it seems between the two is she initiated it, as Rashi says, but that shouldn't acquit Aharon

  • 1
    Perhaps Aharon immediately repented for speaking the lashon hara.
    – ezra
    Jun 9, 2017 at 1:49
  • 2
    Do you have a source for that suggestion? If that's the case why was he rebuked by Hashem along with Miriam
    – robev
    Jun 9, 2017 at 1:52
  • 1
    Because even when you repent you might still be rebuked.
    – ezra
    Jun 9, 2017 at 1:56
  • 2
    If teshuva removes the sin what is there to rebuke for? He learned his lesson...? A lot of speculation...
    – robev
    Jun 9, 2017 at 2:35
  • Could it also be that since Miryam was the one who initiated the lashon hara about Moshe's wife, she was punished? (I know who mentioned that in your question.)
    – ezra
    Jun 9, 2017 at 2:51

2 Answers 2


Some say Aharon was punished. Others say that because Aharon wasn't the instigator here, Hashem merely got angry at him, but didn't punish him.

Verse 9 says:

וַיִּֽחַר אַ֧ף יְהוָ֛ה בָּ֖ם וַיֵּלַֽךְ׃

Still incensed with them, the LORD departed.

Emphasis on the word בם, them, in the plural.

Chizkuni comments:

ויחר אף ה׳ בם: איכא מ״ד מלמד שאף אהרן נצטרע ואיכא מאן דאמר שהוא בנזיפה בעלמא פר׳ הזורק.

"and the anger of Hashem was kindled against them;” according to some commentators Aaron was also smitten with tzoraat;” (to account for the word: בם, “against them”) Another sage holds that G-d contented Himself with being angry at Aaron without taking any action against him. (Compare Talmud in tractate Shabbat folio 97)

Follow the reference to Shabbat 97, where we see that this was R' Akiva's opinion. In Bamidbar 12:10 Aharon "turned", and the Gemara there explains that he too had tzaraat.

כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר (במדבר יב, ט) ויחר אף ה' בם וילך מלמד שאף אהרן נצטרע דברי רבי עקיבא אמר לו רבי יהודה בן בתירא עקיבא בין כך ובין כך אתה עתיד ליתן את הדין אם כדבריך התורה כסתו ואתה מגלה אותו ואם לאו אתה מוציא לעז על אותו צדיק

On a similar note, Rabbi Akiva revealed an additional matter not explicitly articulated in the Torah. You say that when Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses, both Aaron and Miriam were struck with leprosy, as it written: “And God became angry at them and He left, and the cloud departed from above the tent, and behold, Miriam was leprous like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous” (Numbers 12:9–10). The verse’s statement that God became angry at both of them teaches that Aaron, too, became leprous; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira said to him: Akiva, in either case you will be judged in the future for this teaching. If the truth is in accordance with your statement, the Torah concealed Aaron’s punishment and you reveal it. And if the truth is not in accordance with your statement, you are unjustly slandering that righteous man.

ואלא הכתיב בם ההוא בנזיפה בעלמא תניא כמאן דאמר אף אהרן נצטרע דכתיב (במדבר יב, י) ויפן אהרן אל מרים והנה מצורעת תנא שפנה מצרעתו

The Gemara asks: However, didn’t Rabbi Akiva derive this from the plural pronoun them, meaning that God was angry with both of them? The Gemara answers: God’s anger in that verse was manifest in a mere rebuke, not in leprosy. A baraita was taught in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, who said that Aaron also became leprous, as it is written: “And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous” (Numbers 12:10), and it was taught: This teaches that he turned, i.e., he was healed, from his leprosy, as he too had been afflicted.

All quotes including translations from Sefaria.

  • So according to Rabbi Akiva, because Miriam instigated it, Aharons punishment was concealed? I still don't get why the other opinion says that Hashem merely was mad at Aharon, if he spoke loshon hara why wasn't he punished.
    – robev
    Jun 9, 2017 at 12:12
  • Perhaps he repented right away.
    – Scimonster
    Jun 9, 2017 at 12:16
  • @Scimonster See my answer. More than that, view the source in Avot Derav Nattan, the few paragraphs after the one I cited. It confirms exactly what you stated regarding Aaron's (indirect) repentance.
    – DanF
    Jun 9, 2017 at 16:27

Avot DeRav Natan 9:2 explains:

מתוך שעמדו שניהם ודברו בצדיק, בא עליהם את הפורענות. שנאמר: (שם) "ויחר אף ה' בם וילך". מה תלמוד לומר 'וילך'? מלמד שנסתלק מאהרן ודבק במרים, מפני שלא היה אהרן עסקן בדברים, אבל מרים שהיתה עוסקת בדברים מיד נענשה יותר


Citing verse 9 "G-d was angry with them and he went away". What does "went away" refer to? It means that the punishment was initially on both Miriam and Aaron, but it disappeared from Aaron and stuck to Miriam, because it was she that actually was involved with spreading the lashon hara initially.

What is implied is that initially, both were punished, but, Miriam suffered the punishment longer than Aaron.

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