Understanding "strength" - chazak
If you're a loyal reader, you know that I'm an observant atheist Jew, which may appear to be a paradox, except if you are Jewish. As Mark Twain once opined, "the Jews believe in, at most, one god...." Usually fewer.
But it doesn't mean we can't derive meaning from our spiritual texts. In this case, it all stems from a single word: "chazak." Go ahead an pronounce it - the "ch" is one of those sounds that is not actually a "ch" - it's that a raspy sound that starts from the throat.
"Chazak" literally defined means "strength," but since this is from ancient Hebrew, it has connections to lots of other ideas. Depending on the context, it cold also mean "to be bound to," "support," "encourage," and "retain," not to mention "courage" and "restore."
The context I'm going to choose is restoration, because that seems to apply to my current situation. I'm recovering in some ways from cancer treatment, my "chazak" points the path towards this - using strength to recover.
But it also points in a different direction: will my strength help me to recover, or will my recovery give me strength?
So I inscribed "chazahta" on my arm: may you be strong.