Our Torah Fund Theme Chazak v’Ematz: What Does It Mean?

Posted on Nov 22, 2022

Our Torah Fund theme for this year has many meanings. The first meaning I found in my research on Sefaria is translated as “be strong and resolute.” In the portions Deuteronomy 31:6–7 and Deuteronomy 31:23, the words “Chazak v’Ematz” are repeated three times. These words must be important to be repeated in the Torah. 

(6) “Be strong and resolute, be not in fear or in dread of them; for the Eternal One your God’s self marches with you: God will not fail you or forsake you.”  

(7) “Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: ‘Be strong and resolute, for it is you who shall go with this people into the land that the Eternal One swore to their ancestors to give them, and it is you who shall apportion it to them.’”  

(23) “And Eternal One charged Joshua, son of Nun: ‘Be strong and resolute: for you shall bring the Israelites into the land that I promised them on oath, and I will be with you.’” 

The second meaning I found was in a speech by Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the US Congress published in the Jerusalem Post on May 24, 2006. 

“The Bible tells us that as Joshua stood on the verge of the Promised Land, he was given one exhortation: ‘Chazak v’ematz’—’Be strong and of good courage.’ Strength, without courage, will only lead to brutality. Courage, without strength, will only lead to futility. Only genuine courage and commitment to our values, backed by the will and the power to defend them, will lead us forward in the service of humanity. To the Congress of the United States and to the great people of America, I wish to say ‘Chazak v’Ematz’—be strong and of good courage, and we, and all peoples who cherish freedom, will be with you. And God Bless America.” 

The third meaning comes from Sephardic communities, where instead of saying “yasher koach,” it is traditional to say “chazak u’varuch,” meaning “strong and blessed,” to which the answer is  
“chazak v’ematz” (be strong and courageous). This reference was found in the October 4, 2019 commentary on Parashah Vayelah written by Rav Shira Shazeer of the MetroWest Jewish Day School. 

And the fourth meaning of Chazak v’Ematz is summed up in this song created by songwriter Alan Goodis in July 2018 at the Camp Eisner Songwriting Intensive hosted by the Union of Reform Judaism. 

The lyrics are as follows: 

I‘ve got the power, 

I’ve got the tough. 

I’m daring enough to be heard. 

I’ve got the grit, 

I’ve got the spark. 

I am a light when the world gets dark. 

Stand Up, 

go be courageous. 

Be strong, 

make it contagious. 

Don’t stop, 

you’ve got the fight 

We’ll band together, 

We’ll heed the call.

We are relentless, 

We won’t fall. 

We’ll break the ceiling, 

We’ll touch the sky. 

They clip our wings and we still fly. 

Stand Up, 

Go be courageous. 

Be strong, 

make it contagious. 

Don’t stop, 

You’ve got the fight. 

Stand Up, 

Go be courageous. 

Be strong, 

Make it contagious. 

Don’t stop, 

You’ve got the Light. 

And the fifth meaning, “We are Stronger Together,” Chazak v’Ematz, a song performed by the members of the Stephen Wise Temple, Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Isn’t this what we all want for the future? To be stronger together! Chazak v’Ematz!!