Recently, congregations around the world completed reading of the book of Exodus and ended with the declaration Hazak, Hazak V’nithazek – Be Strong, Be Strong, We Will Be Strengthened.
As with the mitzvah Tzedek, Tzedek, Tirdof – Justice, Justice, You Shall Pursue – Hazak, Hazak, V’nithazek poses the question of why the first word is repeated twice, as there are no extraneous words in the Torah. A frequent explanation regarding Tzedek is that one should have the pursuit of justice as his or her goal, but also that just means must be used to reach that goal.
But, what of Hazak?
Thinking about the question in the context of our work at the Masorti Foundation – where we build support and raise funds for the programs, kehillot and other institutions of the Masorti Movement in Israel – there may be a similar lesson. The first “Be Strong” can be seen as a call to action that we be strong, energetic, creative, and tireless in working to build a pluralistic Jewish and democratic State of Israel. The second “Be Strong” may expand beyond the need for effort, to address how we set goals for our work. We cannot be satisfied by simply trying hard to achieve small successes, but we must be strong – in other words ambitious – in what we seek to accomplish for the Masorti Movement, for Israeli society and our own community’s engagement.
So, as we must pursue justice justly, we must strongly pursue strong goals for the spiritual, social and political change we seek in Israel. And by doing so, we in the Masorti Foundation and the Conservative Movement will in turn be strengthened – V’nithazek – for the work we must do together with our Israeli partners.