hazak, hazk, v’nithazek…may we be strong and strengthen each other

Dear Friends,

As we complete the reading of the book of Exodus this week, I am inspired by the generosity of our ancestors. We read about all the details of the contributions and how the donations were used. I believe that we learn how important it is to be aware of how our gifts are used when we make contributions. We live in a world where sometimes people who we think are trustworthy, violate our trust and misuse our gifts. Even Moses was subject to intense scrutiny. People were suspicious that he might have misused their resources for his own benefit. I wonder what this says about our trust in our leaders and also what it says about our trust in ourselves. I wonder how many of us are worthy of the trust which people place in us.

Recently, an older person was telling me about a scam in which a close friend seemed to be in trouble. He donated to this internet site and then found out that someone had hacked into his friend’s e-mail and made this request. The older person lost a significant amount of money but as he put it, it was a cheap tuition payment to make to learn an important life lesson.

Isn’t it a shame that we live in a world where we have to be so very careful? And yet…it was no different in Biblical times when Moses wanted to be sure that no one suspected him of impropriety.

I hope that we will all be trustworthy in all of our endeavors. In fact, we read in the midrash that when we interact well with others we become closer to G-d. I believe that it is awesome when someone trusts me, but also am somewhat nervous because this is a huge responsibility. In Midrash Rabbah, it says that ” a person should strive to please people as strenuously as one strives to please G-d (Exod. Rabbah 51:2)

Finally, on this Shabbat when we finish the book of Exodus, we read hazak, hazk, v’nithazek…may we be strong and strengthen each other. May each of us in being trustworthy help to strengthen a community where sometimes trust is a rare commodity. We can change that perception through our own actions and with the change in culture help to repair our world.

Hazak, hazak, v’nithazek.

Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Bruce D. Aft

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