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

Parshat Re’eh – Bring on the Blessing

My parents Hebrew-English ketuba that saved the day, 1958. (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)

I write these words the morning of my daughter’s wedding. I know that connecting to the words of the Parasha will center me more than another hour of sleep on this precious, incredible day for our family.

“See (open your hearts!) – I give before you today both blessing and curse.” (Devarim 11)

Each day can contain both, but God wants us to experience blessing. The word “V’Simachtem ” – and you shall rejoice – stars in this Parasha.

How do we get there?

“And you shall rejoice with your sons and daughters, your man and maidservants, and the Levi in your gate who has no portion in the land.”

Our joy depends on living a refined life, which covers a whole gamut of physical and spiritual mitzvot, including the specific ones in this Parasha – giving a tenth of our incomes to the poor in our families and communities, eating the food that God proscribes as kosher and appropriate for us, celebrating the Pesach and Shavuot and Sukkot festivals, with the Temple and Jerusalem as their focus.

These mitzvot are not meant to be done perfunctorily, so we can put a checkmark on being a “halachic” Jew.

They must be done with our hearts, through our desire to connect to God out of love and faith. We must pray that even when we’re doing the right thing, God sends blessings on our efforts. No blessing is automatic.

This is why our lives are full of tests of faith, such as the following anecdote from last week:

In an effort to get an entry permit for my dear mom to Israel under current Covid requirements – something that should have been very straightforward, as she is a first-degree relative and I am an Israeli citizen – I had to prove that the “Sarah” in my wedding license and identity card was the “Sylvia” on her passport.

Every document that we presented was rejected as proof, and the day before her flight, after breaking down in tears before the stone-faced clerks in the Ministry of Interior, I really started to pray.

In the next few hours, I found a sympathetic political connection, but it was my mom who found the only thing that worked – her Hebrew and English ketuba from the Bronx, an official U.S. document containing her names in both languages.

In the end it was my mom and Dad’s Jewish connnectedness in 1958, and my efforts to connect beyond all the regular approaches, that enabled my mom to participate in her granddaughter’s wedding in Israel in 2021.

From ketuba to ketuba, generation to generation, in faith, joy, and “protektzia” from Above and below.

Mazal Tov 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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