Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Noach, Lech Lecha: Chazak Chazak Venitchazek

Avraham Fried has a great song called Chazak, which you can listen to here.

A large part of the lyrics consist of:
אִישׁ אֶת-רֵעֵהוּ, יַעְזֹרוּ; וּלְאָחִיו, יֹאמַר חֲזָק.
"They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother: 'Be of good courage.'"

Which is very funny when you consider the context of the pasuk, which is in Yeshaya 41. (haftarat Lech Lecha)

For the next pasuk is:
וַיְחַזֵּק חָרָשׁ אֶת-צֹרֵף, מַחֲלִיק פַּטִּישׁ אֶת-הוֹלֶם פָּעַם; אֹמֵר לַדֶּבֶק טוֹב הוּא, וַיְחַזְּקֵהוּ בְמַסְמְרִים לֹא יִמּוֹט.
"So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smiteth the anvil, saying of the soldering: 'It is good'; and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved."

The context seems to be the construction of an Avoda Zara, or the Tower of Bavel, or in general, participating in something negative.

Thus, e.g., Rashi explains these pesukim as:
Each one… his fellow etc. He shall say, “Strengthen yourself” for war, perhaps their gods will protect them [lit. stand up for them].

And the craftsman strengthened [i.e.,] the one who molds the idol.
the smith who plates it with gold.
the one who smoothes with the hammer The final stage, when he taps lightly to flatten out the work.
the one who wields the sledge hammer He is the one who commences on it when it is a block, and beats it with all his might.
he says of the cement, “It is good,” Heb. דֶּבֶק. He alludes to those who seek suitable ground upon which to adhere iron plates. דֶּבֶק is soudure in French, weld.
and he strengthened it The idol.
with nails that it should not move All of them will strengthen each other.
And Radak interprets it as referring to Migdal Bavel, the Tower of Bavel (thus the parshat Noach tie-in):

The nations came, heard the greatness of Avraham's deeds, and came to the wrong conclusions. Yeshayahu describes their reactions as similar to the builders of Migdal Bavel, who attempted to build a Tower, and to develop human civilization independently of HaShem.

The carpenters would encourage the craftsmen, the artists who did fine work would work cooperatively with the workers who dealt with the raw materials, and everything was fitted together properly. But ultimately human pride and ego would assert themselves, unity would be lost, and the project would collapse.

Update: On the other hand, the Lubavitcher Rebbe did use that pasuk in a positive context here and here.

It is also funny how often even on album covers they can't get the dikduk right. In this case, they have Chazak with two patachs. Depending on context, it can have some kemetzim in there. Or, I would expect what is intended is a chataf-patach under the guttural chet. As in the pasuk from Yeshaya 41 above. Or as in II Shmuel 10:12:

חֲזַק וְנִתְחַזַּק בְּעַד-עַמֵּנוּ

1 comment:

Josh M. said...

Not strange at all. Bereishis Rabbah 44:8 darshens the section as referring to Malkitzedek and Avraham.


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