Hazak Hazak v’Nithazek
Jan 5th 2023

At shul last Shabbat morning, Reb Steve noted the pending secular New Year, inviting us, as we do for the Jewish New Year, to take the opportunity for heshbon hanefesh—a spiritual accounting of sorts.  

“How have I lived this past year?” I always appreciate a nudge toward greater awareness. At that moment, however, I noticed a kind of fatigue at the prospect of further recounting what, in some ways, once again, has been a difficult year. Then that moment became another moment.  

In this new moment, I had awareness of the sweetness of sitting in shul flanked by two friends who have become so in the last few years, since I became a part of the team at Beth Tzedec. I looked around the Chapel and shared smiles and Shabbat greetings with those of us who had come out during this vacation season.  

How have I lived this past year? Not alone. I have lived this past year flanked and bolstered by the community, by this community. 

This week’s portion and the last portion of the book of Genesis, Vayehi—and he lived—signals the death of our ancestor Ya’acov, speaking about his death in relation to his life and in relation to living.  

This Shabbat, as we come once again to the end of this wondrous book of Torah filled with the magnificent mysteries of creation and the unfolding narratives, adventures, living, learning and loving of our ancestors, we say together hazak, hazak v’nithazek—be strong, be strong and we will strengthen one another.  

This is how we move into this new year together, with hizuk, with gevurah—encouragement and strength—of community and connection, reminded we are not alone in all that is and in all that is yet to unfold. 

Hazak, hazak v’nithazek. 

With all my warmth and gratitude to be in community with you.