By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
When one finishes a sefer of the Chamisha Chumshei Torah there is a minhag that
the tzibbur says “Chazak Chazak Venischazeik.”
The Rema in the end of siman kuf lamed tes says, “We have the minhag to say to the one ending the Torah, Chazak.” It would seem from this Rema that other people say it to the one reading in the Torah. The reason for this would be that it would be a hefsek if the Oleh LaTorah says Chazak since he is speaking between the kriya and the bracha. Similarly, the oleh can’t answer yasher koach until after the bracha for the same reason, that it would be considered a hefsek. The Steipler is quoted in Orchas Rabbeinu, Chelek Bai
s, siman shin yud gimmel saying that the Oleh LaTorah himself also says, “Chazak.” This needs some explanation.
It is mashma from the above Rema that saying Chazak is not just for when one finishes a sefer of the Chamisha Chumshei Torah, but rather it should be said at the end of every aliyah. That is why he uses the terminology “bechol paam.” He also he quotes this halacha in the kriyah of the weekday where we never finish one of the Chumashim. It would therefore seem to appear that our minhag of saying Chazak is not from the above Rema. The Avudraham says that in Sfard they only said Chazak at the end of a chumash.
The Bikkurei Yaakov in siman taf resh samech tes, seif koton yud bais discusses the aliyah of Chosson Kol Hanearim where right after thekriyah, the pesukim of Hama
lach Hagoel is said before the bracha. This would seem to be a hefsek. The Bikurei Yaakov explains that since these are pesukim in the Torah, it is a continuation of the reading of the Torah so it would not be a hefsek. The fact that we say Hamalach baal peh is not a problem as we find on Yom Kippur the Kohein Gadol also leined baal peh. In our scenario where saying Chazak is not a posuk, we would still need to understand why it is not a hefsek.
The Shaarei Efraim in siman shin zayin, ois lamed gimmel discusses that a person may still say the bracha in the following scenario. Right after the kriyah, before he said the last bracha, the person went ahead and recited kaddish. We see from this that b’dieved it is not a hefsiek. The question here is; why does the oleh make a hefsek lekatchila when he says, “Chazak”?
There is a machlokes between the Levush and the Taz in siman taf tzadik daled regarding the reciting of Akdamus on Shavuos. The Tazholds that Akdamus is recited before the bracha, so it is not a hefsek. In contrast, Levush says it is recited after the first posuk of the kriyah. The Levush is of the opinion that Akdamus is a chelek of the praise to Hashem that he chose the Jews to receive the Torah. According to the Levushit would make sense that the Oleh says Chazak since he is praising Hashem for giving us the Torah. According to the Taz, we would still need an explanation.
The Shailos U’Tshuvos Mahara Mintz, at the end of siman peh heh, writes that our minhag to scream out Chazak after we finish a chumash of the five chumashim is similar to one saying hadran when he finishes a mesechta. The reason for this is that when a person finishes a mesechta it looks like he is done with it, so we say hadran alach and start a new mesechta right away to show that we are never finished. Here too, by saying Chazak, he is showing he is not finished and will continue. The reason we don’t start the next chumash is because we are reliant on the kriyah of Mincha which will start the next chumash. This is a reason why it is not a hefsek, but rather a chizuk in the kriyah.
May we all be zocheh to continuously make siyumim in Torah and gemara and all sifrei Kodesh! Chazak Chazak Venischazeik!