Linda Pardes Friedburg
Russian-speaking American Israeli Community-building Mom

And You Shall Teach Your Children and Parents

Model Seder with new young Russian-speaking Olim in Bat Yam, March 2023 (Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli)

בימי הפסח יודע הוא כבר בקרבו כי ישראל הוא.” (האדמו”ר מפיאסצנה, הי”ד)”

“On Pesach, one knows his/her essence is Yisrael.” (The Piascetzna Rebbe, hy”d, from Haggadat Piascetzna, edited by Amotz Shapira.)

Pesach is a time of intrinsic belonging, and that is perhaps why most Israeli families prepare for and celebrate Chag HaMatzot.

My son, Asher, reminded me today that Pesach, like Rosh Hashana, the other Jewish New Year, is a time of accepting responsibility- choosing which enslaving behavior we would like to free ourselves of, in order to arrive at Seder night as “Bnei Horin” and “Bnei Melachim“.

On Rosh Hashana we crown God King, while on Pesach we raise ourselves to become children of royalty, free to make the right decisions that strengthen us personally and as a People.

Both those of us who have sat at many Seders and those of us who will sit this year for the first time, like the young recent Olim in the photo above, require significant effort to make this Pesach authentic, joyful, and personally meaningful.

This Chag, where we feel innately Jewish, in the words of the Piascetzna, is the time to bridge between generations – not only והיגדת לבינך – parents teaching children, but everyone present sharing their questions and understandings of the Exodus and continuing Jewish Story , and in the case of reborn Russian-speaking Jewry – והיגדת להוריך – children often reawakening in parents their latent connections and memories.

The flame never dies, says this week’s Parasha –
“וְהָאֵשׁ עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ תּוּקַד בּוֹ, לֹא תִכְבֶּה” (פרשת צו, ויקרא ו:ה)

The fire on the altar will not be extinguished, if we make the choice to reignite it, even after 5, or 20, or 70 years of Jewish disconnect under Communism.

In the words of the prophet Malachi which we read every year in the Haftara before Pesach:
וְהֵשִׁיב לֵב אָבוֹת עַל בָּנִים וְלֵב בָּנִים עַל אֲבוֹתָם…” (מלאכי ג’ כד)
“And he [Eliyahu] will return the heart of the parents towards the children, and the heart of the children towards their parents.”

Which brings me to the Four Sons of the Haggadah – the children and people in our lives and in each one of us.

It is important not to confuse the facades of the Wise, Wicked, Simple and Silent Sons for who they truly are. The Wicked son, for example, receives this label for saying something similar to the Wise son, but using language that ostensibly excludes himself, thought his words reveal that he is not apathetic! How good is that?

The response to this boy in the Haggadah is to categorize him as one of those not worthy of redemption, versus encourage him to continue questioning and evolving, as a part of our diverse, but entwined, family and community!

Everyone in our lives needs affirmation and nurturing. Without this, even the Wise, good child may lose steam from lack of our focus and love…

The Rebbe of Piascetzna:
“כל נפש ילד ישראל אוצר של קדושה הוא, רק שצריכים לדעת איך לפעול בו.”
The soul of every child of Israel is a treasure of holiness. We need only know how to engage it.”

This Pesach may we rise above the instinctive reactions that deepen our differences, versus emphasizing the values, history and destiny that unite us.

Chag Kasher v’Sameach!!!

About the Author
Linda Pardes Friedburg made Aliyah from New Jersey in 1990. She is Founding Director of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli National Jewish Leadership Initiative for Young Russian-Speaking Israelis, is grateful for her six kids and one Belarussian husband, and still feels the need to pinch herself every time she drives up the hill to Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion, their home since 1994. OLIM FOR TZAHAL
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