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Temple Israel of Scranton

Temple Israel of Scranton

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Hazak, hazak, v’nitchazek

Posted on December 17, 2021

Hazak, hazak, v’nitchazek

“2021 Books” is the name of the google doc I share with my kids in which we record the books we have read. We each have our own page in the document and every time we finish a book we write it down. The page tends to get the most action on Saturday nights because Shabbat is the time every one of us is most likely to finish whatever book we were reading — and sometimes more than one. I admit that there is some competition, of the “how come she reads so many more books than I do; I better up my game” variety, but mostly it is a collaborative experience. I have read several worthwhile books because I found them on my kids’ reading lists. And I hope that they similarly check my list and find suggestions for quality reading. And since we are sometimes reading the same books, we also get to discuss the literature with each other. 

This week Jews all over the world will complete the reading of the book of Beresheet, Genesis. (No, I am not going to record Beresheet on 2021 Books.)  We have all been reading/studying/discussing the same book for the past three months. We have challenged each other, we have grappled with questions, we have fallen in love with the characters in the book of Genesis. Okay, some of the characters in the book of Genesis. Tomorrow we finish the stories of Jacob and sons; the Joseph saga is ended. 

It is customary to end the reading of a book of the Torah with the words:  חזק חזק ונתחזק Hazak, hazak, v’nitchazek, be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other. Communal Torah reading/learning/studying enriches each of us individually and all of us together.  We learn from this that one way that we get strength is from Torah study and that through the mitzvah of Torah study we also empower each other.  Next week we will begin the book of Exodus and the learning continues. 

This is a חזק hazak year. We are in the third year of the triennial cycle of Torah readings and we will read words that conclude Beresheet. They are surprising words — the book concludes with the death and embalming of Joseph. The book is finished but the story is not. Join us tomorrow to discuss the relationship of Joseph and his brothers after their father died, and of course, to sing  חזק חזק ונתחזק Hazak, hazak, v’nitchazek.  Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other.

Sermon for next week, Sh’mot: 

Cellphones and the Burning Bush.