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

Lag Ba’Omer – Dispell the Darkness

Boris and Assaf and the trampoline they assembled in record time. Light in our everyday interactions. (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)

Can we talk about light? Not the Chanukah miracles-in-the darkness kind, but the human light that Lag Ba’Omer always reminds me of, as the weather warms, Corona wanes (God-willing) and we meet the outside world again.

When I was in high school, I was friendly with a cheerleader named Cindy, who hung out not only with the jocks and popular girls, but also with the outcasts, braniacs, nerds, and even the druggies.

They were all part of our class, just like in High School Musical, and I was hugely impressed when our twelfth grade chose her, and not someone snobbier, for the huge honor of Homecoming Queen. I remember thinking that one day, I too will be kind to everyone, like Cindy.

Fast forward four decades and many choices of where, how, and with whom I want to spend my days. I definitely feel surrounded by love and give as much as I can, especially when I manage to exercise/ do yoga, pray and eat something wholesome before facing humans each day.

I actually notice a lot of light, in the simplest interactions, like with Assaf and Boris in the photo above, who assembled our new trampoline in under 20 minutes a few days ago. They were both so positive and friendly. “There is no place like Israel!” said Boris, a father of two from Baku, while sipping his Turkish coffee. He really meant it.

Legend has it that on the day Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai died, he was very joyful, and his home was filled with light from the secrets of Torah and existence that he revealed to his students.

Torah is firstly the light in our eyes when we meet others. Rebbe Matya ben Charash says in this week’s chapter of Pirkei Avot: “Be first to say shalom to every person.” (Avot 4:15)

King Shlomo says in Mishlei that each mitzvah is a candle, and Torah is light.

The underlying purpose of the mitzvot we all do is to “litzaref et haBriot” – to refine us like silver, bring us closer together, and illuminate our worlds.

The bonfires of Lag BaOmer remind me what Rashbi apparently believed – that each of us can be a powerful, unlimited source of light.

Happy Lag Ba’Omer and Shabbat Shalom!

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.
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