Completing a Book of the Torah: Torah Reading Response on Ask the Rabbi
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Completing a Book of the Torah

I am a lay leader at my temple. Since our rabbi is away, I will be leading this week’s Shabbat service. I have beginner-intermediate skills for chanting Torah. Your pasha page was very helpful. Could you define the words "Chazak Chazak Venis-chazeik,” so that I can explain it to the congregation?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Upon completing a public reading of one of the Five Books of Moses, everybody stands up and shouts "Chazak! Chazak! Venis-chazeik!" which translate as "Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!"

This Shabbos, we will be completing the book of Exodus in the synagogue and saying these words.

Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin (in "To Pray as a Jew") explains that this is a cry of encouragement to continue with the reading of the next book, and to return to this one again in due course. The triple use of the word "Chazak" may symbolize past, present and future.

Be strong and may you be strengthened!

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