Be Strong Be Strong and May We Be Strengthened.
From two different recent sources I was inspired today to write this piece.
One source was a most difficult negotiation in a recent mediation which finally settled; the other was a Facebook post from my cousin the rabbi.
The last first:
My cousin is a person I admire greatly. Like me he started out as a practicing attorney and was inspired to leave law practice, for himself and for the greater good. He is a peacemaker too, and a compassionate helper of other people, however he chose a different path than I did. He left law practice for the rabbinate. He is the spiritual leader of a congregation, which is the perfect role for him. He is learned, wise, sensitive, smart, reflective, empathetic, respectful of other people’s involvement in their faiths and traditions, and very conscious of the blessings of life even in difficult circumstances.
(In other words, I like him a lot and think he’s terrific.)
My cousin recently made a transition from one congregation to another, moving from one state to another and from one community of friends, colleagues, congregants and acquaintances to another.
He wrote a post on Facebook about his recent installation as the new rabbi of his synagogue and in it I recognized his reference to an important tradition in Jewish religious life.
This is the tradition:
At the end of each of the five books of the Torah, in the transition before starting the next book, we say, “Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek” translated variously as “Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened [or, let us summon our strength, or, may we strengthen one another]!”
See, http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/4526/jewish/Holiday-Customs.htm ; http://www.thejewishcenter.org/The-Jewish-Center-Blog/May-2013/Chazak,-Chazak-v-Nitchazek.aspx ; http://chai.urj.org/dictionary/level3/ .
So too, in my cousin’s transition from one chapter in his life to another, I thought it appropriate to write in response to his post, “Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,” and did so.
That’s when I also thought of a recent, very difficult negotiation in a recent mediation which ultimately settled, and that’s when I decided to write this piece.
In that mediation, as the day wore on, and as the parties wore out – mediation is very difficult and exhausting – the participants on both sides (as they each gave up more and more ground to try to get to peace) increasingly resisted further compromise and sometimes recoiled and retreated because of second thoughts about whether they were doing the right thing.
I found my self saying to them, “Whoa, don’t talk yourself out of settling; you need to keep going to achieve your goal here.”
I perceive now that I was really saying, “Be strong, be strong, and [both sides] will strengthen one another” to reach a durable settlement that everyone can live with.
For I believe that the necessary compromises of mediation, especially the most difficult concessions at the end, do show personal strength and not weakness in making the transition from the vigorous investment in the dispute to the acceptance of enduring peace.
Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek.
David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For further information, go to http://karpmediation.com .