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

This Brave Nation

Nahal Brigade Swearing-in Ceremony at the Western Wall, including 55 lone new Oleh soldiers, June 2023 (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)
We stood last night at the Western Wall among thousands of proud parents, grandparents and siblings representing all Am Yisrael, as several hundred Nahal soldiers swore their loyalty to the IDF and their nation.
We were there for a lone soldier named Jacob from Texas, and listening to the shouts “אני נשבע, אני נשבע, אני נשבע!” and the inspiring quotes by commanders from the Book of Joshua, I marveled at the huge dichotomy between this moving scene and the disheartening storyline of this week’s Parasha, Shlach Lecha  (literally, Send in the Spies).
In the Torah, a vast cognitive chasm separates Joshua and Calev from the other ten leaders of Israel’s twelve tribes, who go into to spy out the land. The latter insist that “we were grasshoppers” in the eyes of the “giants” they saw there, while Joshua and Calev respond with a clear, resounding “lachmeinu hem”! “We can devour them like bread!”

“God is with us. Do not fear them!” (Bamidbar, chapters 13-15)

Calev and Joshua’s bravery has nothing to do with reality, but everything to do with faith, just as David Ben Gurion’s declaration of a Jewish State – ” Zot Medinat Yisrael” – on May 14th, 1948, was the greatest miracle of that period.

Because Ben Gurion put into words his faith-based belief in the justice of Israel’s existence, indeed God was there, behind our vastly untrained, ill-equipped nascent nation of 600,000 pioneers and Holocaust survivors with nary a fighter plane to combat the massive Arab armies that sought to destroy us.

Parshat Shlach Lecha is an eternal reminder that without faith, we are bound to see reality through fear-colored glasses.

With faith, the “realistically” impossible becomes possible.

It is only through faith, hard work and sacrifice,  that the Jewish people has arrived to this day, to share over and over again this story of a generation destined to die in the desert, and a new generation that perceived with its heart and not only its head:
“Rise up and inherit it because we surely can!”  and that “the land which we spied out is very, very good!”

Words have power. May we remember to praise our beautiful Land and courageous nation at every opportunity, and prove that we still merit our blessed lives here, along with all the responsibility.

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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