"And He commanded Joshua the son of Nun, and said: 'Be strong and courageous!'" Deuteronomy 31:23


Leaders and rulers come in all shapes and sizes and if I were to ask you to conjure up the image of rulers endowed with physical strength and courage, then powerhouses of history such as Genghis Kahn, Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great would probably come to mind.

The Israelite leaders Moses and Joshua in contrast would not naturally make this list. Yet it is specifically these attributes, these two qualities of leadership - might and daring - which Moses commands Joshua to display.

Our people had lived an idyllic existence during the forty years of Moses's formal rule in the wilderness. Divine protection had been provided and all our needs were met.

Things would become very different as we entered the land of Israel. The "real world" offered risks and challenges and to expect a new fledgling nation to survive, ideals and aspirations would not be enough; tenacity and bravery would be called on. In this Moses turned to Joshua and made it clear that faith and religious conviction must be accompanied with the will to stay the course. Joshua was up to the challenge and our existence today testifies to his strength of character, which fortified the Jewish people.

Today, just as millennia ago, great resolve is needed to remain committed to the heritage of our ancestors. It is for this reason that we conclude every book of our Torah with the refrain Chazak, chazak, "Be strong, be strong!" It is a great aspiration that through changing times and circumstances, the values and traditions of our fathers and mothers will continue on in ourselves and for future generations to come.

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