Shabbat Emor 5779 Dvar Torah from Rabbi Saul I. Grife
"The Blessings of Strength & Confidence"
When I was young, my family went to visit an elderly aunt of mine. Once arrived, I went to say hello as she was sitting on the sofa. I asked, "Aunt Nellie... can I get you anything?" "A bucket of koach" she replied. I have never forgotten her response.
Koach is the Hebrew word for "strength". Upon reflection, I guess Aunt Nellie was looking for the strength that had departed from her that made the simplest of things, like standing up from the sofa, now difficult to do.
In Gematriya, every Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent; consequently every Hebrew word bears a number too deduced from the composite of its individual letters. "Koach" is spelled with 2 letters... a Kaf and a Het. Kaf = 20, Het = 8. Therefore, Koach = 28.
This Shabbat is the 28th day of Sefirat HaOmer, the counting of the days of the Omer. Therefore, this Shabbat is the day of strength!
According to daily calendar of Sefira inspirations, this Shabbat is the day dedicated to the Malchut of Netzach, or the Nobility of Endurance.
Rabbi Simon Jacobson writes,
Endurance that encompasses such noble qualities like loving-kindness, justice, beauty and humility is a tribute and a testimony to the majesty of the human spirit.
Strength is a formidable asset that allows us to address and succeed at life's tasks. When Moses charged and blessed Joshua as he was about to succeed him as the next leader of the Israelites, he wished him "Hazak vi'Ematz! - Be strong and of good courage!" (Deuteronomy 31:7). When Jews wish each other strength and prosperity, they say "Hazak u'baruch - Be strong and blessed!" When a Jew does a mitzvah, either on or off the bima, a Jew offers them, "Yasher Koach! - May your strength continue and be straight!" Strength of mind, body, will and faith has always been demanded of the Jewish people. When Abraham was invited by God to initiate the Jewish heritage, it necessitated deep strength of faith to leave his homeland and all he knew as he set out towards an unknown place. When Moses was told by God to go down to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh "let My people go!" incredible fortitude was needed to undertake this challenge. In every generation, Jews have required strength to survive and flourish in this world, especially during times when they faced caustic oppression. And after history revealed that the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews while the world greatly stood idly by, it demanded seismic strength to continue the Jewish heritage and establish the modern State of Israel! These days, with rising international anti-Semitic events, again we are being challenged to stand up and remain strong in the face of all that assails us. As we celebrate Shabbat Emor, therefore, let us consider how strong we are, how strong we aim to be along with what we can do to strengthen ourselves and others to contribute to building a better world of strength, confidence, nobility, security and peace for one and for all!
May we all be blessed this Shabbat with strength, nobility and peace!!