There is a phrase we say this week as we complete our annual reading of the book of Exodus: chazak, chazak, v’nitchazeik, “be strong, be strong, and we shall be strengthened.” It is a tradition, but what does this tradition mean?
There is a Chasidic tale about a student who came to his rebbe and said: “For 30 years I have studied the Torah and still I feel no closer to God.” His rebbe replied: “Perhaps God cannot see you while you study and pray only for yourself and by yourself.” The rebbe explained that the phrase kol adat B’nei Yisrael, “all the community of the Children of Israel” which appears multiple times in this week’s portions, reminds us that when we work with others we can come to appreciate our own wholeness, our own self worth . When we engage with others, we can come to appreciate our own strengths, and how the strengths of others can complement our own. Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazeik, “be strong, be strong, and we shall be strengthened.”
We are stronger together: for ourselves, for each other, and in the building of a better world.