Israel Forever

For the week ending 8 March 2003 / 4 Adar II 5763

Fighting the Next War

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Chazak, Chazak Venitchazeik

When we finish the reading of the Torah in the synagogue this Shabbat the entire congregation will rise and cry out Chazak, Chazak Venitchazeik as it is customary to do whenever we complete reading one of the five Chumashim.

This rallying cry to gird our loins for the next challenge can best be appreciated by referring to the advice of our Talmudic Sages that four things require chizuk steady recharging of our batteries. They are: 1) Torah study; 2) Prayer; 3) Good deeds; 4) Wordly matters. (The craftsman must steadily seek to improve his craft and the soldier his military skills Rashi.)

The last of these four is easily understood by us all. What sort of army would Israel have if it rested on its laurels and did not steadily seek to improve its ability to defend the nation with new arms and new strategies? What sort of professionals would be providing us with the necessary services if they did not keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields and continually refresh their knowledge?

When it comes to spiritual matters, however, there is a tragic tendency to be content with the level we have reached and not to try a little harder. How many people do you know who have grown in the quality of their prayer and good deeds? This is especially a problem when it comes to Torah study, which requires concentration and a sacrifice of time and energy. It is for this reason that we make such a public demonstration of the need for chizuk when we complete an entire Chumash and emotionally prepare ourselves for the challenge of the next one.

The challenge which Jews in Israel face on a daily basis have taught them how to apply the spirit of chizuk in continuing normal lives. It is to be hoped that this chizuk will overflow into the other three areas and strengthen the spiritual life of Israel forever.

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