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    Strong enough for the next round – B’chukkotai

    The end of a Biblical Book evokes the cry, Chazak Chazak venit’chazzek – “Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other!”

    It happens this week of course, when we come to the end of Sefer Vayikra, the third Book of the Chumash.

    Imagine how often in Jewish history we had to battle unfriendly elements that threatened our survival, and how much of a miracle it was to defy the pressures and circumstances and somehow succeed in completing the reading of a Biblical Book or the observance of some other Divine duty.

    Although there are many places in Tanach where people are urged to be strong and courageous, this particular phrase seems to come from II Samuel 10:12, which says Chazak v’nit’chazzek b’ad ammenu uv’ad arei Elo-henu, “Be strong, and let us give each other strength for the sake of our people and the cities of our God”.

    The Ralbag (Gersonides) points out that what brings us to end of a task like the reading of a Book of the Torah is not just God’s grace but our own determination.

    If it is a miracle that has allowed us to achieve a spiritual goal, it is not just a miracle from On High but a miracle on earth, the miracle of a people giving each other strength and solidarity.

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