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

Parshat Balak: We are blessed

"Soon we will hear in the cities of Judea, the voice of joy... of the bride and groom." The youth and community of Neve Daniel celebrate the wedding of new Olim Beila and David, June 22, 2021. (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)

Don’t try to curse this people because they are blessed, God reminds the Midianite prophet Balaam. (Bamidbar 22)

Each one of us needs this reminder, that we are indeed blessed in the place that we are.

When I take on too many tasks or responsibilities, when my perfectionism requires me to strain to the finest detail, and I do not have the calm to truly listen to my kids or play with my granddaughter, without the sense that precious time is slipping by — then I lose the feeling of blessedness.

God had to painfully press Balaam’s leg against the wall via his talking donkey, before he opened his eyes and saw Godliness in that very place.

Sometimes we are woken up only after we feel pain or fall. “Yerida l’maan Aliya” – descending to sadness or frustration in order to rise up again with new insights, regarding our direction and the sources of blessing in our lives.

Yesterday I saw pure joy and goodness in the faces of scores of youth in our community who came out to celebrate the wedding of a bride and groom that they had never met.

They helped decorate, shlep tables and chairs, sing and dance with all their might, for two young Olim who came to create a new family in Israel, even as the couple’s own families remain far away in Russia and Ukraine.

If we seek and give others opportunities to do good and live wholly, individually and as a nation, we fulfill our essences of blessedness — “How good are your tents Jacob, Your holy dwellings Israel!”(Bamidbar 24)

Others may recognize our blessedness – as with Balaam in this Parasha – before we ourselves do. We must always remember it is there.

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. OLIM FOR TZAHAL
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