When we finish reading a book of Torah in synagogue, we chant together, “Hazak, Hazak, Venit-hazek!” That is, “Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!”
Our meeting tomorrow morning will be our “Hazak, Hazak” meeting: we will vote one last time for the recipient of our Tzedakah Fund, and we will say our “l’hitraot,” which expresses a wish to see each other again soon. It’s not really goodbye. If we stay engaged in Jewish community, we’ll see one another again, I have no doubt.
I call this the “Hazak, Hazak” meeting, because it is the end of a class in which all we had to do was keep moving forward. Every week a new topic awaited. Now some of you will move on to the Adult Bnei-mitzvah program, for which I hope you are strengthened. Some of you move forward with other educational plans, and I hope you are strengthened for those as well. But if you don’t have a plan for your next step forward, let’s talk, because Jewish learning and Jewish growth doesn’t happen by accident.
Why is “hazak, hazak” followed by venit-hazek? “May we be strengthened” reminds us that a strong, educated Jewish community is strengthened by every participating member, every person who learns Torah. By contrast, we are weakened when someone drops away, saying “I have learned enough.” I hope that we will be strengthened as each of us moves forward in Jewish learning and Jewish life, from strength to strength!
See you tomorrow.
— Rabbi Adar