Be Strong! Be Strong! Be Strengthened!

Adar 25 5780

חזק חזק ונתחזק Chazak! Chazak! V’nitchazek!

At this time of the reading of this double portion Vayakhel Pikudei which ends the Book of Shemot, as we do with each Book of the Torah, we say, חזק חזק ונתחזק Chazak! Chazak! V’nitchazek! Be Strong! Be Strong! Be Strengthened. How pertinent it is for us today!

Here our importance to the Bore Olam is emphasized. Vayakhel comes from the word kahal, to assemble together. The portion begins with Shabbat. Due to this Covid19 pandemic, so many people who would never have remained at home on Shabbat are being forced to take this day off. Mothers and fathers will learn once again how to be with their families. For those of us who are meeting together online, we are a virtual assembly under the covering of our Creator. The Shabbat is not for the Creator; it was made for us. Our sages say that it is the Shabbat that guards His people; it is not His people who guard the Shabbat. It is meant to be an oneg (עונג) – a joyful, pleasurable, delightful time. For those of us who keep the Shabbat, there is the understanding that we cover those who do not keep it. That is how important we are to Him.

If we trust in the Creator, we do not need to panic. We simply have to follow the instructions laid out for us by the authorities. For the first time, the world is getting together to help each other instead of looking for ways of destroying each other. The Creator is sending us a message from on high to make us aware of Him. It is true that we have failed Him. Perhaps we have been too slow in taking action or speaking up for His Principles simply to keep the peace. We are each a light to the world. It is my prayer that we do not fall into despair and fear; we need to stand up and keep on going. There are many who are worried about how they will be able to pay their rent or mortgage. Let’s stay together and help each other through these difficult times. We are not alone. If you are afraid, share your fears and they will be divided. If God is with us, who can be against us?

These two portions speak about being congregated and counted in the right way. They warn us not to misuse what the Creator has given us but to use it to help each other. Moshe wanted to be sure that everything that he received would be counted and used. He never kept anything for himself. Today’s leaders are quite the opposite. They enter their political positions with nothing, and they leave as multi-millionaires. How can that be serving the people? Here are several principles that can be applied to our lives today. He chose Betzalel and Oholiav, both of whom He filled with wisdom and gave the skills to do what they were called to do. Oholiav knew how to use his hands and Betzalel knew how to supervise and lead the work but no one in Israel was left out. They all participated in the building of the Mishkan. Each of us is very important, especially at this time when we might feel alone.

Read Psalm 91 which speaks about the promise of our Creator to His people. He is our virtual covering. We are one people and one community. The important thing to remember is that we have a responsibility, as is written in 2 Chronicles 7: 14-15: 14 “If My people, upon whom My name is called, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 15 Now My eyes shall be open, and My ears pay attention to the prayer that is made in this place.” יד וְיִכָּנְעוּ עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר נִקְרָא-שְׁמִי עֲלֵיהֶם, וְיִתְפַּלְלוּ וִיבַקְשׁוּ פָנַי, וְיָשֻׁבוּ, מִדַּרְכֵיהֶם הָרָעִים–וַאֲנִי, אֶשְׁמַע מִן-הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֶסְלַח לְחַטָּאתָם, וְאֶרְפָּא אֶת-אַרְצָם. עַתָּה, עֵינַי יִהְיוּ פְתֻחוֹת, וְאָזְנַי, קַשֻּׁבוֹת–לִתְפִלַּת, הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה.

Let us lift up our voices together so that He will heal us and heal our land. I can see that the people living in Israel are suffering, but they are also coming together more than ever. Even the two political parties that were fighting one against the other are trying to unite in a common purpose. This would have been impossible without the present circumstances. May the Lord bless us and make us aware of His Presence and may those who deny Him come to understand that there is something greater behind all that is happening in the world today. We have hope so do not fall into the panic mode in which we think that there is no hope. Friends of mine who have survived the holocaust tell me that this situation is nothing in comparison to what they went through. Sadly, the media does not help but actually makes things worse. Stay in touch and be sure that your neighbours are taken care of.

Remember and repeat the words which we say at the end of reading each Book in the Torah: חזק חזק ונתחזק Chazak! Chazak! V’nitchazek! Be Strong! Be Strong! Be Strengthened