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

Parshat B’Ha’alotcha: Clouds and Light

Judean Desert (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)
Judean Desert (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)

Consistency contributes to our happiness and growth.

This is especially true during times of uncertainty, which defines a good part of our lives.

Whether it be prayer, study, music, exercise, or our professional pursuits, consistent investment creates meaningful frameworks and develops our vast potential.

The example of prayer speaks particularly to me. The fact that I pray each day, allows me to reach out also in random moments of gratitude, lack of clarity, or God-forbid angst and pain. Jewish prayer is like a muscle one strengthens through practice over time.

It seems that the Jewish People’s desert experience was a 40-year- long incubator in the art of consistency.

The opening words of Parshat B’Ha’alotcha describe Aharon, the High Priest, lighting the seven candles of the Menorah every day, in the same way, with the same holy intention. But deeper readings of the text describe the artfulness of this daily task, that he lit each candle so that “each flame rose up on its own” (Rashi). Each of us in our daily interactions have the power to nurture others, so that they rise to new achievements and understandings on their own.

The Parsha also describes how the People never knew how long they would be in a specific place. Sometimes a day, sometimes many months. “At God’s bidding, the Children of Israel traveled, and at God’s bidding, they encamped.” (Bamidbar 9:18)

When the Cloud lifted from above the Tabernacle, they knew it was time to move on.

Our desert experience taught us that while we do not know what lies ahead in our lives, what we do today and every day, counts, beginning with the framework of behaviors and values that we were taught by Moses, Joshua and the Elders during our wanderings.

The desert also taught us that every “encampment” or station in our lives is necessary – we are exactly where we are meant to be at this moment.

The question is when and how to move on.

We have no physical cloud to guide us, but “God’s bidding” can still be heard, in the unique souls within each of us. As Jews, we connect to it through the study and practice of Torah, celebration of holidays and Shabbat, prayer, refined behavior and more.

This eternal inner voice helps guide our decision-making and navigate clouds of confusion and doubt.
May we find ways to connect to it all of our days.

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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