Moshe Rabbeinu after appointing Yehoshua to be the leader of Am Yisrael after Moshe passes away tells Yehoshua חזק ואמץ to be strong. For you will bring Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael and conquer the thirty-one kings residing there. Although Moshe told Yehoshua only once חזק, we find at the beginning of Sefer Yehoshua that Hashem told Yehoshuah “three” times the word חזק one after the other (Yehoshua 1,5-6, 7,9). The Avir Yaakov explains that three times the word חזק is gematriah משה. This conveys that Hashem bestowed upon Yehoshua, the future leader of Yisrael, Moshe’s personal three special kochos of his neshamah in order to aid him in the challenging task of his new leadership. Only after Hashem shined upon Yehoshuah these three inner kochos of his rebbi, Am Yisrael responded (Yehoshuah 1,17) “Just as we listened to everything that Moshe said so too we will listen to you.”
According to this explanation, we can interpret that the one time that Moshe demanded from Yehoshuah the conduct of חזק he was also referring to these three kochos that he bentched him with, which were necessary for leadership. In Moshe however, these three kochos were one, and one ק חזwas therefore sufficient. However, when Hashem infused Yehoshuah with these three powers, Hashem gave each one a separate mentioning in order that Yehoshuah should realize the magnitude of his beracha from his Rebbi.
Let us suggest another depth to the meaning of Moshe Rabbeinu’s word of חזק to Yeshoshuah. The Mishkan needed a means of transporting all of its parts during their journey in the desert. For this function the leaders of the twelve tribes brought six covered wagons with twelve oxen, as the passukdescribes (Bamidbar 7,3)שש עגלות צב . The Baal Haturim writes that there was a reason for specifically the number of six wagons, since that number fell short from completing the task of transportation since a miracle was manifest in order to carry the enormous load of the entire Mishkan. The number six was to allude to the six seasons mentioned in Parshas Noach (8,22) זרע וקציר וקר וחם וקיץ וחרף לא ישבתוseedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter will not cease.
By connecting the seasons with the wagons, the Baal Haturim is telling us that in order for one to build a Mishkan to Hashem for Him to dwell inside of you, one must be excel in the middah of consistency throughout all the seasons. Even though the seasons bring varying conditions that effect people in many ways, one’s avodas Hashem must remain as consistent as possible in order for Hashem to dwell within man. Further allusions to this interpretation can be gleaned from the word עגלה which is rooted in the word מעגל השנה the circle of the year. The word צב also hints to צבא army. During training in the army and real exercises of battle, outside weather conditions are irrelevant when it comes to fulfilling one’s serving of his country with his best performance. So too, Am Yisrael are called the army of Hashem whose mission is to bring about the awareness of Hashem’s Kingdom throughout the world (Shmos 12,41). This is seen in the gematriah of צבאת (including the four letters) which equals מלכות (including the word).
There is a marvelous story written in the Nesivos Shalom concerning a soldier who was standing at attention with full army attire and gear on one sweltering summer day in the country side. He stood there at his given post waiting for the coach of the king to pass by. He was sweating profusely and almost fainted. Suddenly he hears rustling water from a brook. He says to himself it is not an illusion. He turns around and in the forests close to the road he hears the flowing water even clearer. He looks as far as he can down the country road and does see a hint of an approaching royal entourage. He girds himself with courage and decides to quickly run down to the creek take a dip and return before the coach even comes to his post. When he jumps into the water he suddenly entered another world and he completely forgot the world that he was supposed to be in. All of a sudden he hears the trumpets blowing very distinctly as if they were only five hundred feet away. In shock he found himself in a great dilemma. He had no time to get dressed in his uniform and boots to greet the king at his post. Yet to stand naked by the king would be a disgrace. He decided that he mustn’t fail at his duty as a royal guard and he ran to his post just in time for the king to pass by him. As expected, the king asked his driver to stop in front of this spectacle standing attention in this birthday suit. What kind of mockery is this exclaimed the driver. Death to this soldier, he demanded. The king just observed this soldier very carefully from head to toe and he noticed that the water dripping from his body was not sweat. He then picked up his ears and heard the rustling brook. In a second he figured out the entire scenario of what just happened. He ordered the soldier to come into his royal coach and sit next to him. He addressed him with the words I see how loyal you are to your king. You knew very well that you were unfit to stand at your post unclothed. You also realized that for this conduct you would pay dearly. Nevertheless, you chose to be punished instead of trying to flee and escape on account of your negligence. For this act of courage and self sacrifice, you will be rewarded with a higher rank in my army.
So too, many us are unprepared for Rosh Hashanah. We were out to lunch doing our own thing instead of focusing on the Yom Hadin. Suddenly, we hear the Shofar blowing which announces the time for each individual to stand at his post in honor of the King of the Universe’s coronation. We find ourselves naked from mitzvos and Yiras Shamayim because of our lack of preparation. Nevertheless, our resolve is that we don’t run away and say forget this Rosh Hashanah, I already blew it. Contrary to the natural reaction, we stand there to receive upon ourselves the Kingship of Hashem in our naked attire and do not leave our post even though we might face severe consequences for our chuptzah and our lack of preparation for the King’s arrival at our doorstep. When Hashem sees the sincerity of our stance and our true regret and remorse for our shortcomings especially this one in particular, one might just find favor in the eyes of Hashem for his allegiance and sacrifice at the present moment.
Moshe Rabbeinu’s characteristic as a leader of Klal Yisraelwas consistency even after his death as the passuk says (Devarim 34,7) he still remained with the beaming light on his face that he received on Har Sinai and his face appeared moist. He was not affected by the outside forces and seasons. As a leader of a nation he did not take a few days off for vacation but was constantly committed and concerned about their physical and spiritual welfare. This characteristic Moshe wanted to impart to Yehoshuah with the saying of חזק. The six seasons of change are hinted in this three letter word חזק: חם חורף זרע קציר קר קיץ. Consistency to your commitment is the sure formula for success no matter how big or small is the amount committed to the task.
The first Rama in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim says שויתי ה’ לנגדי תמיד and the last Rama is וטוב לב משתה תמיד. The Shulchan Aruch begins with תמיד and ends with תמיד. Not a coincidence at all. It is great to have spontaneous inspiration once in a while and it is embraced, but it is the consistency of, day to day toil, that creates and transforms an individual into an oveid Hashem. Inspiration can fizz out as easily as it came about, but תמיד contains the word תם which means complete and wholesome. Yaakov who was called the בחיר האבות didn’t experience the great ordeals as Avraham his grandfather who was tested with Ten Tests, nor like Yitzchak his father who was tested with the Akaidah. Yaakov was tested with living with a Lavan day to day, being exactingly honest in this work, and in his raising a Jewish family according to Hashem’s wishes by not allowing himself or his family to be influenced by the evil surroundings. Tamid was the key to spiritual success and not the spectacular events that come along once in a while.
The Minhag Yisrael is that when they complete reading a sefer of Chumash, everyone proclaims as one voice חזק חזק ונתחזק The strength that we are referring to is the strength to continue learning the Torah by our not being affected by the seasons and changes emanating from the outside world. When one comes before Heavenly Court after 120 years Chazal tell us that he is asked קבעת עתים לתורה did you set aside time to learn Torah? A deeper understanding of this question is as follows. The court is inquiring if, in your lifetime, did you set the times to the Torah or did you bend the Torah to fit the times?
חזק חזק ונתחזק