18 Sep 2015 Strength and Courage
This week’s parsha, Parshas Vayelech, is read with great emotion as Moshe addresses the congregation of Israel. I am one hundred and twenty years old today; I can no longer go out and come in, and Hashem has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ Moshe continues and encourages the nation, exhorting them to be strong and courageous – חִזְקוּ וְאִמְצוּ – and not to break down before the people of Canaan, for Hashem will go with them and He will not forsake them.
Moshe then calls to Yehoshua – who will lead the nation after Moshe’s demise – and encourages him as well: חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ–כִּי אַתָּה תָּבוֹא אֶת-הָעָם הַזֶּה, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ – Be strong and courageous, for you shall come with this people to the Land…(see Devarim 31:1-7).
Moshe speaks not only to them; but to us as well. For every battle, for every journey, for every situation in life, we need to reach deep into ourselves and find our strength and courage, which will enable us to persevere, to overcome, and perhaps even to accept the various situations that G-d sends our way.
Because it was difficult for him to walk, due to severe Parkinson’s Disease, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel zt’l was customarily taken to the Yeshivas Mir Beis Medrash each morning by wheelchair for Shachris. One day he said to the person who was about to push him in his wheelchair, “This time I would like to try to walk to the Yeshiva in order to acquire sechar halichah for walking to the beis knesses.”
חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ! Be strong and courageous, Moshe reminds the Bnei Yisrael. Be strong and courageous! Moshe reminds Yehoshua. Be strong and courageous, Moshe tells each and every one of us.
More often than not, life surprises us. We need strength and courage to carry on.
And yet – lest we think we ourselves are the source of our strength, the Psalmist reminds us otherwise… With timeless wisdom and great faith, Dovid Ha’Melech tells us:
קוה אל ה׳, חזק ויאמץ לבך, וקוה אל ה׳ (Ps.27:14) – Hope to Hashem, for in every situation – in good times, in difficult times, through laughter and tears, one must always hope to Hashem. חזק – be strong! But always know that the Source of one’s courage is ultimately Hashem – ויאמץ לבך – and He, HKB”H, will give courage to your heart. וקוה אל ה׳ – And then hope once again to Hashem. (I am indebted to a friend of mine for sharing this beautiful insight with me.)
We ask Hashem, the Source of our strength, to embolden us.
This is a particularly relevant lesson during these Ten Days of Repentance, when we all strive to improve ourselves in Torah and mitzvos. We yearn to return to Him, we yearn to sincerely repent, we yearn to be inscribed in the Book of Life. And as always, we must be ever cognizant that it is He Who is the Source of our ability to change and improve.
R’ Shimshon Pincus zt’l teaches that, “On at least one day in the year, the holy day of Yom Kippur, Hashem opens the heart of the Jew and awakens holy feelings within it…The (spiritual) awakening comes from HKB”H…It’s not the Jew that makes Yom Kippur; it’s Yom Kippur that makes the Jew…”
For all those times we think “we can’t” – we can! Hope to Hashem, strengthen your heart and He will give you courage, and hope to Hashem.
Wishing you, your families, and all of klal Yisrael a year of courage and strength, tranquility and peace, a year of happiness and success, all in good health and with an abundance of blessings from Above.
גמר חתימה טובה ושבת שלום,