Chizku V’Imtzu (Take heart and strengthen yourself – Song)

Rabbi Josh Snyder
March 19, 2014
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Seattle Seahawks

As I considered this month’s topic of “Noble Ideals, Tarnished,” my first association went to the B-52’s song Love Shack, where at the end Cindy Wilson wails, “Tin roof, rusted!” This apparently became a slang term for “I’m pregnant.” Who knows why? But it sounds like a declaration – “noble ideals, tarnished!”

So fatigue, lack of fulfillment, moral equivocation, and scandal can tarnish an ideal? They can tarnish what the ideal means to me, or how highly I hold it in regard, but the ideal itself still shines forth. Musar teaches us that we should try to cultivate deep character traits through behavior. According to Moses Chayim Luzzato, author of Mesilat Yesharim (Path of the Just), those traits are a path beginning with awareness, proceeding through urgency, blamelessness, abstinence, purity, piety, humility and holiness. The tarnish is our lack of focus getting in. Nachman of Bratslav had a doctrine of striving for happiness to chase away melancholy.

Last month, my beloved Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl for the first time. I was there, and it was awesome. I still have moments of disbelief that the world is still spinning. But the next day the clock kept on ticking, the problems and issues were still there. The life-long dream fulfilled, a long life (hopefully) still stretches before me. Even the team began a quest to do it again: the moment of exultation was in the past.

Tarnish is inevitable. Our world is imperfect, but we can’t just leave the tin roof rusted and walk away from the Love Shack, now can we? Even tarnish adds a glimmer of a greater shining forth.

This song is called “Chizku V’Imtzu” – Be courageous and of good heart. It is a pluralization of God’s injunction to Joshua after the death of Moses. More than a ‘buck up’, it urges us to take all of the difficulty we are faced with and to channel it toward something positive.

V1: White snow scabs over with oily crust

My knuckles ragged and jagged and torn up

What was supposed to happen? What were we hoping for?

All that struggle and then we are shown the door.

My cup overfloweth yet I am not fulfilled

The future’s not living up to what was billed

Crumbling, bumbling, stumbling through this mess

Moshiach took the local and we’re all on the express

 

C: And yet hope shines through, Chizku V’Imtzu

 

V2: The morning screams disappointment on front pages

Another day of chasing after wages

the light at the end of the tunnel’s just a mirror

The picture isn’t getting any clearer

The world is not Return of the Jedi

If Immanuel Kant then neither can I

It’s everything I can do to roll off this cot,

When all else fails, use what you’ve got.

 

C: And yet hope shines through, Chizku V’Imtzu

 

Bridge: Take heart and strengthen yourself

You’re not the only one, you’re not the only one

Take hold of something even if it fails

You got to hold on, you go to push on through…. Chizku V’Imtzu

 

Chords:

Cadd9

Em7

chorus, bridge: Am7, fF, G

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Rabbi Josh Snyder is the Executive Director of Goucher College Hillel in Baltimore, MD. He attended List College's Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he earned degrees in Talmud and Biology. After a brief adventure as a veterinary student, Josh was ordained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2008. In addition to immersing himself in Hillel, Josh finds balance through his wife Neely and three daughters, distance running, rock music, the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Orioles.

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