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

Parshat Ki Tisa – Divinely Equal, Beautiful and Unique

A carpet of blooming anemones near Netivot, February 2022 (Photo: Anitra King)

The language of the Torah is illuminating and precise. When God asks Moshe to count the People, he instructs him  כִּ֣י תִשָּׂ֞א אֶת־רֹ֥אשׁ בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֘ – literally “raise up the heads of the Children of Israel” – elevate them, make each one count equally, by counting the half-shekel that they each will bring, to be donated to the work of the Mishkan. “The rich shall give no more, and the poor shall give no less than half a shekel.” (Shmot 30)

In the same parasha, we learn how the annointing oil is precisely prepared, to dedicate the Mishkan and the Kohanim for their special service. And with the same language-“and God spoke to Moshe saying”- God says “See how I have called by name Betzalel Ben Uri of the tribe of Yehuda..and imbued him with the spirit of God, with wisdom, with insight, with knowledge, for all manner of craftsmanship” to lead the building of the Mishkan.

While God no longer publicly appoints our missions and our passions, He gives us each our soul – an inner voice to guide us towards contentment and meaning, if we only know how to listen to it.

Rav Yonatan Sacks taught that we find our unique paths through two criteria – something that is needed, and something that we want to do!

I studied economics and international business, but was continuously drawn to and eventually immersed myself in informal Jewish education among Russian-speaking Jews. The tools of my formal education perhaps empowered me, but what turmoil I experienced, until I acknowledged that my soul was not happy in the world of finance or away from Israel! The latter were not my calling.

Today, I see my older children seeking to discover and express their unique abilities, and my heart and prayers are with them. I am infinitely grateful that they grew up in the land and language consistent with their Jewish souls, but their struggle to make a unique mark – and a good living! – is real.

My own life has given me the faith to enjoy this ride with them, but I can only offer my love and the knowledge that they are each incredibly essential to this world!

May God make their inner voices loud and clear.

“Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies a seed that with the sun’s love, in the Spring becomes the Rose.” (Bette Midler)

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. EMERGENCY UKRAINIAN/RUSSIAN NEW OLIM CAMPAIGN!
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