Rabbi’s Corner: Chazak, Chazak, V’Nitchazek – Let Us Strengthen One Another

We are a people for whom rituals, traditions and customs help define us, unite us, and enable us to mark significant moments in our lives. This week, Jews across the world will follow one such ritual as we finish reading the last part of the book of Numbers, B’midbar. As soon as the very last words of B’midbar are recited, the congregation says: “chazak chazak v’nitchazek – be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another.” We say this powerful phrase whenever we conclude any book of the Torah or during moments of celebration and accomplishment. It encapsulates the essence of unity, resilience, and communal bonds. While this phrase originates from ancient times, its message still resonates strongly for us today.

Congregational life is built upon the foundations of community and shared values. TBS is a place where individuals come together to deepen their connection with the Divine and with one another. We gather together to celebrate joys, comfort each other during sorrows, and walk alongside each other during the everyday vicissitudes of life. The essence of the phrase “chazak chazak v’nitchazek” embodies these ideas.

The first “chazak” represents individual strength. Being part of a community inspires each of us to cultivate personal resilience and our own inner strength. Life’s journey is filled with trials, uncertainties, and moments of doubt. By nurturing our own inner strength, we can face these challenges head-on and overcome them. It reminds us that we have the power to withstand adversity and grow through difficult times.

The second “chazak” signifies collective strength. It emphasizes that our individual strengths are enhanced and magnified when we unite for a common purpose and when we have others walking by our side. At TBS, we encounter various opportunities to support one another, whether it be through acts of g’milut chasadim, (acts of lovingkindness), prayer, learning, or social action. We draw strength from our shared experiences, wisdom, and resources. We uplift each other, celebrate together, and lend a helping hand when needed.

The final phrase, “v’nitchazek,” urges us to actively strengthen one another. It reminds us that our commitment to supporting each other should be ongoing and intentional. When we strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued, included, and supported, the outcome is that everyone feels strengthened. By actively strengthening one another, we foster a sense of belonging and unity within the congregation.

Tomorrow morning, as we recite “chazak chazak v’nitzchazek”, how will you personally be strengthened? How do you feel you can strengthen those in our midst? And finally, how are you working in partnership to be an active participant with us in “strengthening one another?” Please feel free to email me your answers, I may turn them into a sermon! rabbisobel@tbsoc.com

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Sholom

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