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


Alexander Maimon, z"l, at Kever Rachel with new Russian-speaking Olim (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)

The best preparation for Rosh Hashana is to read through Parshat Nitzavim – literally “you are all standing here today before God” on this last Shabbat before the New Year!

3500 years ago, Moshe gathered the People before he died, and reenacted their covenant with God. He does not teach any specific mitzvot in this parsha, only the clearest life lessons:

The word “today” repeats itself, because this Brit is as alive today as it was then, and the decisions and actions of everyone of us renew – or weaken – this relationship every day. We can always begin again.

Today is the time to rise early, stretch our bodies, learn, pray, run.

Today is the day to show our love, to give and receive with all the powers we have been given!

The word “return” appears in many forms. After the horrible curses in last week’s Parsha are fulfilled, and we are dispersed throughout the world (something that has to refer to only modern, not biblical history), God will rekindle the spark of desire – ratzon – in each of us and we will return, physically to Israel, spiritually to our Source and our traditions – ” and you will return to God with all your heart and soul.” (Devarim 30:10)

Indeed, the spiritual thirst in our nation and throughout the world today.

And a most powerful pasuk, which provides much-needed perspective to our lives:
“הַנִּסְתָּרֹת לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד עוֹלָם לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת.”
“The hidden things are God’s, and the revealed are for us and our children, forever, to fulfill all the words of this Torah.” (Devarim 29:28)

How is it that a healthy friend is killed by a stroke, but another undergoes the same and, thank God, recovers quickly? How do we experience devastation and suffering, beauty and chesed in the same breath?

This week we buried Alex Maimon, z”l, our dear, barely 60 year-old neighbor and friend who helped reignite Jewish life behind the Iron curtain, and after his Aliyah, and continued on to reignite the hearts of thousands of young Russian-speaking Jews as a brilliant history teacher and tour guide in Israel.

A man of truth, with the warmest face and always an optimistic, humorous word.

During his Shiva, our third granddaughter was bornת and I spent 3 precious days in the Shomron hills, in the fantastic company of her big sister Neviyah, not yet 2.

We will not find answers to hidden matters, but if we possess the humility and wisdom to grasp every moment through applying the revealed mitzvot, we will not miss a beat of this life, which we have no idea of its length or the nature of its days.

As the Parsha concludes:
“וּבָחַרְתָּ, בַּחַיִּים–לְמַעַן תִּחְיֶה, אַתָּה וְזַרְעֶךָ. לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקֹלוֹ וּלְדָבְקָה-בוֹ… ”
(דברים ל)
“Choose life so that you may truly live, you and your children. Love God, hear His voice, cling to Him…”

Or perhaps – “cling to it” – his Voice – the life-yearning, unique, albeit connected souls within us!

May we all be inscribed and sealed for a good, love- and life-filled year!

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו!

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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