Lamentations – Select a Chapter

INTRO 1 2 3 4 5


1:1  Alas! Lonely sits the city Once great with people! She that was great among nations Is become like a widow; The princess among states Is become a thrall.

א:א  אֵיכָה יָשְׁבָה בָדָד הָעִיר רַבָּתִי עָם הָיְתָה כְּאַלְמָנָה רַּבָּתִי בַגּוֹיִם שָׂרָתִי בַּמְּדִינוֹת הָיְתָה לָמַס׃

2  Bitterly she weeps in the night, Her cheek wet with tears. There is none to comfort her Of all her friends. All her allies have betrayed her; They have become her foes.

ba-KHO tiv-KEH ba-LAI-lah v’-dim-a-TAH AL le-khe-YAH ayn LAH m’-na-KHAYM mi-kol o-ha-VE-ha kol ray-E-ha BA-g’-du VAH ha-YU LAH l’-o-y’-VEEM

ב  בָּכוֹ תִבְכֶּה בַּלַּיְלָה וְדִמְעָתָהּ עַל לֶחֱיָהּ אֵין־לָהּ מְנַחֵם מִכָּל־אֹהֲבֶיהָ כָּל־רֵעֶיהָ בָּגְדוּ בָהּ הָיוּ לָהּ לְאֹיְבִים׃

 1:2   All her allies have betrayed her; They have become her foes

Jewish history has demonstrated time and time again just how drastically friends can indeed turn into enemies. Ever since the biblical account of Pharaoh inviting Yosef’s family down to Egypt, which eventually led to the bitter enslavement of the Israelites, we have seen one host country after another turn against her Jewish subjects. In the last century, for example, Jews were active contributors in all realms of European society: Politicians, academics, doctors, lawyers, artists, and more. It was thus all the more devastating when, in 1935, with Adolf Hitler’s power steadily growing, the Nuremberg Laws were passed. These laws called for clear genetic definitions regarding who is a Jew, and all those defined as Jews were denied the right to German citizenship, demonstrating how dramatically a friend can turn into an enemy! In contrast, Israel’s Law of Return was modified in 1970 to include anyone who would have been defined as a Jew under the Nuremberg Laws. According to the current law, anyone born a Jew, a child of a Jew or grandchild of a Jew, and their spouses, all have the right to attain citizenship in the State of Israel if they so desire.Comment

3  Yehuda has gone into exile Because of misery and harsh oppression; When she settled among the nations, She found no rest; All her pursuers overtook her In the narrow places.

ג  גָּלְתָה יְהוּדָה מֵעֹנִי וּמֵרֹב עֲבֹדָה הִיא יָשְׁבָה בַגּוֹיִם לֹא מָצְאָה מָנוֹחַ כָּל־רֹדְפֶיהָ הִשִּׂיגוּהָ בֵּין הַמְּצָרִים׃

4  Tzion‘s roads are in mourning, Empty of festival pilgrims; All her gates are deserted. Her Kohanim sigh, Her maidens are unhappy— She is utterly disconsolate!

ד  דַּרְכֵי צִיּוֹן אֲבֵלוֹת מִבְּלִי בָּאֵי מוֹעֵד כָּל־שְׁעָרֶיהָ שׁוֹמֵמִין כֹּהֲנֶיהָ נֶאֱנָחִים בְּתוּלֹתֶיהָ נּוּגוֹת וְהִיא מַר־לָהּ׃

5  Her enemies are now the masters, Her foes are at ease, Because Hashem has afflicted her For her many transgressions; Her infants have gone into captivity Before the enemy.

ה  הָיוּ צָרֶיהָ לְרֹאשׁ אֹיְבֶיהָ שָׁלוּ כִּי־יְהֹוָה הוֹגָהּ עַל רֹב־פְּשָׁעֶיהָ עוֹלָלֶיהָ הָלְכוּ שְׁבִי לִפְנֵי־צָר׃

6  Gone from Fair Tzion are all That were her glory; Her leaders were like stags That found no pasture; They could only walk feebly Before the pursuer.

ו  וַיֵּצֵא מן־בת־[מִבַּת־] צִיּוֹן כָּל־הֲדָרָהּ הָיוּ שָׂרֶיהָ כְּאַיָּלִים לֹא־מָצְאוּ מִרְעֶה וַיֵּלְכוּ בְלֹא־כֹחַ לִפְנֵי רוֹדֵף׃

7  All the precious things she had In the days of old Yerushalayim recalled In her days of woe and sorrow, When her people fell by enemy hands With none to help her; When enemies looked on and gloated Over her downfall.

ז  זָכְרָה יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם יְמֵי עָנְיָהּ וּמְרוּדֶיהָ כֹּל מַחֲמֻדֶיהָ אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ מִימֵי קֶדֶם בִּנְפֹל עַמָּהּ בְּיַד־צָר וְאֵין עוֹזֵר לָהּ רָאוּהָ צָרִים שָׂחֲקוּ עַל מִשְׁבַּתֶּהָ׃

8  Yerushalayim has greatly sinned, Therefore she is become a mockery. All who admired her despise her, For they have seen her disgraced; And she can only sigh And shrink back.

ח  חֵטְא חָטְאָה יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם עַל־כֵּן לְנִידָה הָיָתָה כָּל־מְכַבְּדֶיהָ הִזִּילוּהָ כִּי־רָאוּ עֶרְוָתָהּ גַּם־הִיא נֶאֶנְחָה וַתָּשָׁב אָחוֹר׃

9  Her uncleanness clings to her skirts. She gave no thought to her future; She has sunk appallingly, With none to comfort her.— See, Hashem, my misery; How the enemy jeers!

ט  טֻמְאָתָהּ בְּשׁוּלֶיהָ לֹא זָכְרָה אַחֲרִיתָהּ וַתֵּרֶד פְּלָאִים אֵין מְנַחֵם לָהּ רְאֵה יְהֹוָה אֶת־עָנְיִי כִּי הִגְדִּיל אוֹיֵב׃

10  The foe has laid hands On everything dear to her. She has seen her Sanctuary Invaded by nations Which You have denied admission Into Your community.

י  יָדוֹ פָּרַשׂ צָר עַל כָּל־מַחֲמַדֶּיהָ כִּי־רָאֲתָה גוֹיִם בָּאוּ מִקְדָּשָׁהּ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתָה לֹא־יָבֹאוּ בַקָּהָל לָךְ׃

11  All her inhabitants sigh, As they search for bread; They have bartered their treasures for food, To keep themselves alive.— See, Hashem, and behold, How abject I have become!

יא  כָּל־עַמָּהּ נֶאֱנָחִים מְבַקְּשִׁים לֶחֶם נָתְנוּ מחמודיהם [מַחֲמַדֵּיהֶם] בְּאֹכֶל לְהָשִׁיב נָפֶשׁ רְאֵה יְהֹוָה וְהַבִּיטָה כִּי הָיִיתִי זוֹלֵלָה׃

12  May it never befall you, All who pass along the road— Look about and see: Is there any agony like mine, Which was dealt out to me When Hashem afflicted me On His day of wrath?

יב  לוֹא אֲלֵיכֶם כָּל־עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ הַבִּיטוּ וּרְאוּ אִם־יֵשׁ מַכְאוֹב כְּמַכְאֹבִי אֲשֶׁר עוֹלַל לִי אֲשֶׁר הוֹגָה יְהֹוָה בְּיוֹם חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ׃

13  From above He sent a fire Down into my bones. He spread a net for my feet, He hurled me backward; He has left me forlorn, In constant misery.

יג  מִמָּרוֹם שָׁלַח־אֵשׁ בְּעַצְמֹתַי וַיִּרְדֶּנָּה פָּרַשׂ רֶשֶׁת לְרַגְלַי הֱשִׁיבַנִי אָחוֹר נְתָנַנִי שֹׁמֵמָה כָּל־הַיּוֹם דָּוָה׃

14  The yoke of my offenses is bound fast, Lashed tight by His hand; Imposed upon my neck, It saps my strength; Hashem has delivered me into the hands Of those I cannot withstand.

יד  נִשְׂקַד עֹל פְּשָׁעַי בְּיָדוֹ יִשְׂתָּרְגוּ עָלוּ עַל־צַוָּארִי הִכְשִׁיל כֹּחִי נְתָנַנִי אֲדֹנָי בִּידֵי לֹא־אוּכַל קוּם׃

15  Hashem in my midst has rejected All my heroes; He has proclaimed a set time against me To crush my young men. As in a press Hashem has trodden Fair Maiden Yehuda.

טו  סִלָּה כָל־אַבִּירַי אֲדֹנָי בְּקִרְבִּי קָרָא עָלַי מוֹעֵד לִשְׁבֹּר בַּחוּרָי גַּת דָּרַךְ אֲדֹנָי לִבְתוּלַת בַּת־יְהוּדָה׃

16  For these things do I weep, My eyes flow with tears: Far from me is any comforter Who might revive my spirit; My children are forlorn, For the foe has prevailed.

al ay-LEH a-NEE vo-khi-YAH ay-NEE ay-NEE YO-r’-dah MA-yim kee ra-KHAK mi-ME-nee m’-na-KHAYM may-SHEEV naf-SHEE ha-YU va-NAI sho-may-MEEM KEE ga-VAR o-YAYV

טז  עַל־אֵלֶּה אֲנִי בוֹכִיָּה עֵינִי עֵינִי יֹרְדָה מַּיִם כִּי־רָחַק מִמֶּנִּי מְנַחֵם מֵשִׁיב נַפְשִׁי הָיוּ בָנַי שׁוֹמֵמִים כִּי גָבַר אוֹיֵב׃

 1:16   For these things do I weep, my eyes flow with tears

The Sages explain that Hashem intentionally selected the ninth of the month of Av as the day on which both the first and second Temples would be destroyed. According to Jewish tradition, the reason for this is that it was on the ninth of Av that the twelve spies returned from their mission to scout out the land of Israel. As reported in Sefer Bamidbar (13-14), following the spies’ pessimistic and libelous report, the people fearfully cried out to God: “How will we ever conquer the land? Why did you take us out of Egypt to die at the hands of the Canaanites?” The Sages (Taanit 29a) record God’s reprimand of the people for their lack of faith: “You cried on the ninth of Av for no reason, and so this day will become a day of crying for all generations.” The events surrounding the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash are linked back to the biblical account of the twelve spies, to illustrate that all of Jewish history is inexorably interwoven; it all represents the unfolding of Hashem’s master plan. Furthermore, we must never forget that one of the keys to the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash and the commencement of the Messianic Era is our unquestioning trust in God and appreciation for Eretz Yisrael. This is the very trait that the spies and nation failed to exhibit when they rejected His land, and it is one which we must constantly seek to achieve.Comment

17  Tzion spreads out her hands, She has no one to comfort her; Hashem has summoned against Yaakov His enemies all about him; Yerushalayim has become among them A thing unclean.

יז  פֵּרְשָׂה צִיּוֹן בְּיָדֶיהָ אֵין מְנַחֵם לָהּ צִוָּה יְהֹוָה לְיַעֲקֹב סְבִיבָיו צָרָיו הָיְתָה יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם לְנִדָּה בֵּינֵיהֶם׃

18  Hashem is in the right, For I have disobeyed Him. Hear, all you peoples, And behold my agony: My maidens and my youths Have gone into captivity!

יח  צַדִּיק הוּא יְהֹוָה כִּי פִיהוּ מָרִיתִי שִׁמְעוּ־נָא כָל־עמים [הָעַמִּים] וּרְאוּ מַכְאֹבִי בְּתוּלֹתַי וּבַחוּרַי הָלְכוּ בַשֶּׁבִי׃

19  I cried out to my friends, But they played me false. My Kohanim and my elders Have perished in the city As they searched for food To keep themselves alive.

יט  קָרָאתִי לַמְאַהֲבַי הֵמָּה רִמּוּנִי כֹּהֲנַי וּזְקֵנַי בָּעִיר גָּוָעוּ כִּי־בִקְשׁוּ אֹכֶל לָמוֹ וְיָשִׁיבוּ אֶת־נַפְשָׁם׃

20  See, Hashem, the distress I am in! My heart is in anguish, I know how wrong I was To disobey. Outside the sword deals death; Indoors, the plague.

כ  רְאֵה יְהֹוָה כִּי־צַר־לִי מֵעַי חֳמַרְמָרוּ נֶהְפַּךְ לִבִּי בְּקִרְבִּי כִּי מָרוֹ מָרִיתִי מִחוּץ שִׁכְּלָה־חֶרֶב בַּבַּיִת כַּמָּוֶת׃

21  When they heard how I was sighing, There was none to comfort me; All my foes heard of my plight and exulted. For it is Your doing: You have brought on the day that You threatened. Oh, let them become like me!

sha-m’-U KEE ne-e-na-KHAH A-nee AYN m’-na-KHAYM LEE kol o-y’-VAI sha-m’-U ra-a-TEE SA-su KEE a-TAH a-SEE-ta hay-VAY-ta yom ka-RA-ta v’-yih-YU kha-MO-nee

כא  שָׁמְעוּ כִּי נֶאֱנָחָה אָנִי אֵין מְנַחֵם לִי כָּל־אֹיְבַי שָׁמְעוּ רָעָתִי שָׂשׂוּ כִּי אַתָּה עָשִׂיתָ הֵבֵאתָ יוֹם־קָרָאתָ וְיִהְיוּ כָמוֹנִי׃

 1:21   When they heard how I was sighing, there was none to comfort me

The prophet Yirmiyahu captures the sense of utter loneliness that prevailed after the destruction of Yerushalayim and the exile of the people. He describes their feeling that there was no one to stand by their side or to provide any sort of comfort in their time of need. Over many centuries of exile, Jews repeatedly experienced this same sense of abandonment. For example, over two and a half millennia following the destruction of Yerushalayim in Yirmiyahu’s time, as Hitler’s persecution mounted in the late 1930’s, many Jews desired to flee from Europe. Unfortunately, though, not a single country was willing to absorb Jewish refugees. In July of 1938, delegates from over thirty countries met in Évian-les-Bains, France, to discuss the refugee crisis. Despite many sympathetic speeches for the tragic plight of the Jews, no country was willing to significantly change their immigration quota to admit additional Jewish refugees. As this verse bemoans, the entire world had closed their doors to the Jewish people, abandoning them in their time of need. With the establishment of the State of Israel, however, the Jewish people now have a home. Never again will they be left alone with no one to protect and comfort them. As Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik writes in his essay Kol Dodi Dofek, ‘The Voice of my Beloved Knocks,’ “A Jew who flees from a hostile country now knows that he can find a secure refuge in the land of his ancestors… Jews who have been uprooted from their homes can find lodging in the Holy Land.”Comment

22  Let all their wrongdoing come before You, And deal with them As You have dealt with me For all my transgressions. For my sighs are many, And my heart is sick.

כב  תָּבֹא כָל־רָעָתָם לְפָנֶיךָ וְעוֹלֵל לָמוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר עוֹלַלְתָּ לִי עַל כָּל־פְּשָׁעָי כִּי־רַבּוֹת אַנְחֹתַי וְלִבִּי דַוָּי׃

2:1  Alas! Hashem in His wrath Has shamed Fair Tzion, Has cast down from heaven to earth The majesty of Yisrael. He did not remember His Footstool On His day of wrath.

ay-KHAH ya-EEV b’-a-PO a-do-NAI et bat tzi-YON hish-LEEKH mi-sha-MA-yim E-retz tif-E-ret yis-ra-AYL v’-LO za-KHAR ha-DOM rag-LAV b’-YOM a-PO

ב:א  אֵיכָה יָעִיב בְּאַפּוֹ אֲדֹנָי אֶת־בַּת־צִיּוֹן הִשְׁלִיךְ מִשָּׁמַיִם אֶרֶץ תִּפְאֶרֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא־זָכַר הֲדֹם־רַגְלָיו בְּיוֹם אַפּוֹ׃

2:1   He did not remember His Footstool on His day of wrath

To explain the metaphor of the “footstool” referred to in this verse, many commentaries point to other places in the Bible where the Beit Hamikdash is referred to as God’s footstool (see, e.g., Psalms 132:7). This image expresses the notion that while Hashem’s essence is incomprehensible to man, as He resides, as it were, in another realm, His presence can be felt in the Beit Hamikdash. There, we catch a glimpse of God’s metaphorical “feet.” Even in the absence of the Beit Hamikdash, the Bible tells us that God’s presence can be felt most closely in the Land of Israel, “a land which Hashem your God looks after, on which Hashem your God always keeps His eyes, from year’s beginning to year’s end.” (Deuteronomy 11:12).Comment

2  Hashem has laid waste without pity All the habitations of Yaakov; He has razed in His anger Fair Yehuda‘s strongholds. He has brought low in dishonor The kingdom and its leaders.

ב  בִּלַּע אֲדֹנָי לא [וְלֹא] חָמַל אֵת כָּל־נְאוֹת יַעֲקֹב הָרַס בְּעֶבְרָתוֹ מִבְצְרֵי בַת־יְהוּדָה הִגִּיעַ לָאָרֶץ חִלֵּל מַמְלָכָה וְשָׂרֶיהָ׃

3  In blazing anger He has cut down All the might of Yisrael; He has withdrawn His right hand In the presence of the foe; He has ravaged Yaakov like flaming fire, Consuming on all sides.

ג  גָּדַע בָּחֳרִי אַף כֹּל קֶרֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵשִׁיב אָחוֹר יְמִינוֹ מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב וַיִּבְעַר בְּיַעֲקֹב כְּאֵשׁ לֶהָבָה אָכְלָה סָבִיב׃

4  He bent His bow like an enemy, Poised His right hand like a foe; He slew all who delighted the eye. He poured out His wrath like fire In the Tent of Fair Tzion.

ד  דָּרַךְ קַשְׁתּוֹ כְּאוֹיֵב נִצָּב יְמִינוֹ כְּצָר וַיַּהֲרֹג כֹּל מַחֲמַדֵּי־עָיִן בְּאֹהֶל בַּת־צִיּוֹן שָׁפַךְ כָּאֵשׁ חֲמָתוֹ׃

5  Hashem has acted like a foe, He has laid waste Yisrael, Laid waste all her citadels, Destroyed her strongholds. He has increased within Fair Yehuda Mourning and moaning.

ה  הָיָה אֲדֹנָי כְּאוֹיֵב בִּלַּע יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּלַּע כָּל־אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ שִׁחֵת מִבְצָרָיו וַיֶּרֶב בְּבַת־יְהוּדָה תַּאֲנִיָּה וַאֲנִיָּה׃

6  He has stripped His Booth like a garden, He has destroyed His Mishkan; Hashem has ended in Tzion Festival and Shabbat; In His raging anger He has spurned King and Kohen.

va-yakh-MOS ka-GAN su-KO shi-KHAYT mo-a-DO shi-KACH a-do-NAI b’-tzi-YON mo-AYD v’-sha-BAT va-yin-ATZ b’-ZA-am a-PO ME-lekh v’-kho-HAYN

ו  וַיַּחְמֹס כַּגַּן שֻׂכּוֹ שִׁחֵת מוֹעֲדוֹ שִׁכַּח יְהֹוָה בְּצִיּוֹן מוֹעֵד וְשַׁבָּת וַיִּנְאַץ בְּזַעַם־אַפּוֹ מֶלֶךְ וְכֹהֵן׃

 2:6   Hashem has ended in Tzion festival and Shabbat

The destruction of the Beit Hamikdash led to a drastic reduction of holiness in the world. This verse emphasizes the tragedy inherent in the elimination of the observance of Shabbat in the Beit Hamikdash due to the destruction. The famous Jewish author Achad Ha’am once remarked: “More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” Indeed, in many ways, the tranquility and spiritual rejuvenation which Shabbat offers have proven invaluable to the Jew’s ability to persevere in the face of so much oppression. Many of the Jewish people’s worst enemies were aware of the power of the Shabbat, and thus sought to eradicate it from Jewish life. For example, Antiochus Epiphanes, the villain of the Hanukkah story, prohibited Shabbat observance, as did many subsequent oppressors. Despite the myriad attempts to erase the Sabbath from Jewish consciousness, it has remained a central and defining feature of Jewish life until this very day.2 comments

7  Hashem has rejected His mizbayach, Disdained His Sanctuary. He has handed over to the foe The walls of its citadels; They raised a shout in the House of Hashem As on a festival day.

ז  זָנַח אֲדֹנָי מִזְבְּחוֹ נִאֵר מִקְדָּשׁוֹ הִסְגִּיר בְּיַד־אוֹיֵב חוֹמֹת אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ קוֹל נָתְנוּ בְּבֵית־יְהֹוָה כְּיוֹם מוֹעֵד׃

8  Hashem resolved to destroy The wall of Fair Tzion; He measured with a line, refrained not From bringing destruction. He has made wall and rampart to mourn, Together they languish.

ח  חָשַׁב יְהֹוָה לְהַשְׁחִית חוֹמַת בַּת־צִיּוֹן נָטָה קָו לֹא־הֵשִׁיב יָדוֹ מִבַּלֵּעַ וַיַּאֲבֶל־חֵל וְחוֹמָה יַחְדָּו אֻמְלָלוּ׃

9  Her gates have sunk into the ground, He has smashed her bars to bits; Her king and her leaders are in exile, Instruction is no more; Her neviim, too, receive No vision from Hashem.

ט  טָבְעוּ בָאָרֶץ שְׁעָרֶיהָ אִבַּד וְשִׁבַּר בְּרִיחֶיהָ מַלְכָּהּ וְשָׂרֶיהָ בַגּוֹיִם אֵין תּוֹרָה גַּם־נְבִיאֶיהָ לֹא־מָצְאוּ חָזוֹן מֵיְהֹוָה׃

10  Silent sit on the ground The elders of Fair Tzion; They have strewn dust on their heads And girded themselves with sackcloth; The maidens of Yerushalayim have bowed Their heads to the ground.

י  יֵשְׁבוּ לָאָרֶץ יִדְּמוּ זִקְנֵי בַת־צִיּוֹן הֶעֱלוּ עָפָר עַל־רֹאשָׁם חָגְרוּ שַׂקִּים הוֹרִידוּ לָאָרֶץ רֹאשָׁן בְּתוּלֹת יְרוּשָׁלָ ִם׃

11  My eyes are spent with tears, My heart is in tumult, My being melts away Over the ruin of my poor people, As babes and sucklings languish In the squares of the city.

יא  כָּלוּ בַדְּמָעוֹת עֵינַי חֳמַרְמְרוּ מֵעַי נִשְׁפַּךְ לָאָרֶץ כְּבֵדִי עַל־שֶׁבֶר בַּת־עַמִּי בֵּעָטֵף עוֹלֵל וְיוֹנֵק בִּרְחֹבוֹת קִרְיָה׃

12  They keep asking their mothers, “Where is bread and wine?” As they languish like battle-wounded In the squares of the town, As their life runs out In their mothers’ bosoms.

יב  לְאִמֹּתָם יֹאמְרוּ אַיֵּה דָּגָן וָיָיִן בְּהִתְעַטְּפָם כֶּחָלָל בִּרְחֹבוֹת עִיר בְּהִשְׁתַּפֵּךְ נַפְשָׁם אֶל־חֵיק אִמֹּתָם׃

13  What can I take as witness or liken To you, O Fair Yerushalayim? What can I match with you to console you, O Fair Maiden Tzion? For your ruin is vast as the sea: Who can heal you?

יג  מָה־אֲעִידֵךְ מָה אֲדַמֶּה־לָּךְ הַבַּת יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם מָה אַשְׁוֶה־לָּךְ וַאֲנַחֲמֵךְ בְּתוּלַת בַּת־צִיּוֹן כִּי־גָדוֹל כַּיָּם שִׁבְרֵךְ מִי יִרְפָּא־לָךְ׃

14  Your seers prophesied to you Delusion and folly. They did not expose your iniquity So as to restore your fortunes, But prophesied to you oracles Of delusion and deception.

יד  נְבִיאַיִךְ חָזוּ לָךְ שָׁוְא וְתָפֵל וְלֹא־גִלּוּ עַל־עֲוׂנֵךְ לְהָשִׁיב שביתך [שְׁבוּתֵךְ] וַיֶּחֱזוּ לָךְ מַשְׂאוֹת שָׁוְא וּמַדּוּחִים׃

15  All who pass your way Clap their hands at you; They hiss and wag their head At Fair Yerushalayim: “Is this the city that was called Perfect in Beauty, Joy of All the Earth?”

sa-f’-KU a-LA-yikh ka-PA-yim kol O-v’-ray DE-rekh sha-r’-KU va-ya-NI-u ro-SHAM al BAT y’-ru-sha-LA-im ha-ZOT ha-EER she-yo-m’-RU k’-lee-LAT YO-fee ma-SOS l-khol ha-A-retz

טו  סָפְקוּ עָלַיִךְ כַּפַּיִם כָּל־עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ שָׁרְקוּ וַיָּנִעוּ רֹאשָׁם עַל־בַּת יְרוּשָׁלָ ִם הֲזֹאת הָעִיר שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ כְּלִילַת יֹפִי מָשׂוֹשׂ לְכָל־הָאָרֶץ׃

 2:15  Is this the city that was called Perfect in Beauty, Joy of All the Earth?

This verse demonstrates the grandeur that once was Jerusalem. However, it is peculiar that in the hands of Babylon and of numerous subsequent conquerors, the city of Yerushalayim and the entire Land of Israel lay almost completely in ruins. In his notes on Sefer Vayikra (26:32), the Ramban explains that Eretz Yisrael has a supernatural quality to it. While under foreign occupation, the land is little more than a barren desert. However, when it is under the sovereignty of the People of Israel, the land comes to life, flourishes, and yields great produce. Indeed, for nearly two millennia, as the land switched hands numerous times between various foreign occupiers, including Romans, Arabs, Turks and others, the land lay desolate. Amazingly, the modern rebirth of the Jewish homeland has brought with it an astounding development of the land, to the point where once again the Jewish people can claim a flourishing country. In agriculture, technology, and culture, contemporary Israel ranks among the most advanced countries of the world. Indeed, Jerusalem itself has returned to a point where visitors once again remark that the city is “Perfect in Beauty, Joy of All the Earth.”Comment

16  All your enemies Jeer at you; They hiss and gnash their teeth, And cry: “We’ve ruined her! Ah, this is the day we hoped for; We have lived to see it!”

טז  פָּצוּ עָלַיִךְ פִּיהֶם כָּל־אוֹיְבַיִךְ שָׁרְקוּ וַיַּחַרְקוּ־שֵׁן אָמְרוּ בִּלָּעְנוּ אַךְ זֶה הַיּוֹם שֶׁקִּוִּינֻהוּ מָצָאנוּ רָאִינוּ׃

17  Hashem has done what He purposed, Has carried out the decree That He ordained long ago; He has torn down without pity. He has let the foe rejoice over you, Has exalted the might of your enemies.

יז  עָשָׂה יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר זָמָם בִּצַּע אֶמְרָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מִימֵי־קֶדֶם הָרַס וְלֹא חָמָל וַיְשַׂמַּח עָלַיִךְ אוֹיֵב הֵרִים קֶרֶן צָרָיִךְ׃

18  Their heart cried out to Hashem. O wall of Fair Tzion, Shed tears like a torrent Day and night! Give yourself no respite, Your eyes no rest.

יח  צָעַק לִבָּם אֶל־אֲדֹנָי חוֹמַת בַּת־צִיּוֹן הוֹרִידִי כַנַּחַל דִּמְעָה יוֹמָם וָלַיְלָה אַל־תִּתְּנִי פוּגַת לָךְ אַל־תִּדֹּם בַּת־עֵינֵךְ׃

19  Arise, cry out in the night At the beginning of the watches, Pour out your heart like water In the presence of Hashem! Lift up your hands to Him For the life of your infants, Who faint for hunger At every street corner.

יט  קוּמִי רֹנִּי בליל [בַלַּיְלָה] לְרֹאשׁ אַשְׁמֻרוֹת שִׁפְכִי כַמַּיִם לִבֵּךְ נֹכַח פְּנֵי אֲדֹנָי שְׂאִי אֵלָיו כַּפַּיִךְ עַל־נֶפֶשׁ עוֹלָלַיִךְ הָעֲטוּפִים בְּרָעָב בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצוֹת׃

20  See, Hashem, and behold, To whom You have done this! Alas, women eat their own fruit, Their new-born babes! Alas, Kohen and Navi are slain In the Sanctuary of Hashem!

כ  רְאֵה יְהֹוָה וְהַבִּיטָה לְמִי עוֹלַלְתָּ כֹּה אִם־תֹּאכַלְנָה נָשִׁים פִּרְיָם עֹלֲלֵי טִפֻּחִים אִם־יֵהָרֵג בְּמִקְדַּשׁ אֲדֹנָי כֹּהֵן וְנָבִיא׃

21  Prostrate in the streets lie Both young and old. My maidens and youths Are fallen by the sword; You slew them on Your day of wrath, You slaughtered without pity.

כא  שָׁכְבוּ לָאָרֶץ חוּצוֹת נַעַר וְזָקֵן בְּתוּלֹתַי וּבַחוּרַי נָפְלוּ בֶחָרֶב הָרַגְתָּ בְּיוֹם אַפֶּךָ טָבַחְתָּ לֹא חָמָלְתָּ׃

22  You summoned, as on a festival, My neighbors from roundabout. On the day of the wrath of Hashem, None survived or escaped; Those whom I bore and reared My foe has consumed.

כב  תִּקְרָא כְיוֹם מוֹעֵד מְגוּרַי מִסָּבִיב וְלֹא הָיָה בְּיוֹם אַף־יְהֹוָה פָּלִיט וְשָׂרִיד אֲשֶׁר־טִפַּחְתִּי וְרִבִּיתִי אֹיְבִי כִלָּם׃

3:1  I am the man who has known affliction Under the rod of His wrath;

ג:א  אֲנִי הַגֶּבֶר רָאָה עֳנִי בְּשֵׁבֶט עֶבְרָתוֹ׃

2  Me He drove on and on In unrelieved darkness;

ב  אוֹתִי נָהַג וַיֹּלַךְ חֹשֶׁךְ וְלֹא־אוֹר׃

3  On none but me He brings down His hand Again and again, without cease.

ג  אַךְ בִּי יָשֻׁב יַהֲפֹךְ יָדוֹ כָּל־הַיּוֹם׃

4  He has worn away my flesh and skin; He has shattered my bones.

ד  בִּלָּה בְשָׂרִי וְעוֹרִי שִׁבַּר עַצְמוֹתָי׃

5  All around me He has built Misery and hardship;

ה  בָּנָה עָלַי וַיַּקַּף רֹאשׁ וּתְלָאָה׃

6  He has made me dwell in darkness, Like those long dead.

ו  בְּמַחֲשַׁכִּים הוֹשִׁיבַנִי כְּמֵתֵי עוֹלָם׃

7  He has walled me in and I cannot break out; He has weighed me down with chains.

ז  גָּדַר בַּעֲדִי וְלֹא אֵצֵא הִכְבִּיד נְחָשְׁתִּי׃

8  And when I cry and plead, He shuts out my prayer;

GAM KEE ez-AK va-a-sha-VAY-a sa-TAM t’-fi-la-TEE

ח  גַּם כִּי אֶזְעַק וַאֲשַׁוֵּעַ שָׂתַם תְּפִלָּתִי׃

 3:8   And when I cry and plead, He shuts out my prayer

While God always hears our prayers, He doesn’t always grant our requests. Even in difficult times, Hashem does not always respond to our prayers in the affirmative, but instead “He shuts out my prayer.” It is noteworthy that in the central Jewish prayer, known as the Amida and recited three times a day, Hashem is referred to as, “He who listens to our prayers” and not, “He who answers our prayers.” God’s will is inscrutable. Like any parent, at times He says “no.” But especially at those times, He is always there to listen with love and to hear our cries.Comment

9  He has walled in my ways with hewn blocks, He has made my paths a maze.

ט  גָּדַר דְּרָכַי בְּגָזִית נְתִיבֹתַי עִוָּה׃

10  He is a lurking bear to me, A lion in hiding;

י  דֹּב אֹרֵב הוּא לִי אריה [אֲרִי] בְּמִסְתָּרִים׃

11  He has forced me off my way and mangled me, He has left me numb.

יא  דְּרָכַי סוֹרֵר וַיְפַשְּׁחֵנִי שָׂמַנִי שֹׁמֵם׃

12  He has bent His bow and made me The target of His arrows:

יב  דָּרַךְ קַשְׁתוֹ וַיַּצִּיבֵנִי כַּמַּטָּרָא לַחֵץ׃

13  He has shot into my vitals The shafts of His quiver.

יג  הֵבִיא בְּכִלְיוֹתָי בְּנֵי אַשְׁפָּתוֹ׃

14  I have become a laughingstock to all people, The butt of their gibes all day long.

יד  הָיִיתִי שְּׂחֹק לְכָל־עַמִּי נְגִינָתָם כָּל־הַיּוֹם׃

15  He has filled me with bitterness, Sated me with wormwood.

טו  הִשְׂבִּיעַנִי בַמְּרוֹרִים הִרְוַנִי לַעֲנָה׃

16  He has broken my teeth on gravel, Has ground me into the dust.

טז  וַיַּגְרֵס בֶּחָצָץ שִׁנָּי הִכְפִּישַׁנִי בָּאֵפֶר׃

17  My life was bereft of peace, I forgot what happiness was.

יז  וַתִּזְנַח מִשָּׁלוֹם נַפְשִׁי נָשִׁיתִי טוֹבָה׃

18  I thought my strength and hope Had perished before Hashem.

יח  וָאֹמַר אָבַד נִצְחִי וְתוֹחַלְתִּי מֵיְהֹוָה׃

19  To recall my distress and my misery Was wormwood and poison;

יט  זְכָר־עָנְיִי וּמְרוּדִי לַעֲנָה וָרֹאשׁ׃

20  Whenever I thought of them, I was bowed low.

כ  זָכוֹר תִּזְכּוֹר ותשיח [וְתָשׁוֹחַ] עָלַי נַפְשִׁי׃

21  But this do I call to mind, Therefore I have hope:

כא  זֹאת אָשִׁיב אֶל־לִבִּי עַל־כֵּן אוֹחִיל׃

22  The kindness of Hashem has not ended, His mercies are not spent.

כב  חַסְדֵי יְהֹוָה כִּי לֹא־תָמְנוּ כִּי לֹא־כָלוּ רַחֲמָיו׃

23  They are renewed every morning— Ample is Your grace!

כג  חֲדָשִׁים לַבְּקָרִים רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ׃

24  “Hashem is my portion,” I say with full heart; Therefore will I hope in Him.

כד  חֶלְקִי יְהֹוָה אָמְרָה נַפְשִׁי עַל־כֵּן אוֹחִיל לוֹ׃

25  Hashem is good to those who trust in Him, To the one who seeks Him;

כה  טוֹב יְהֹוָה לְקוָֹו לְנֶפֶשׁ תִּדְרְשֶׁנּוּ׃

26  It is good to wait patiently Till rescue comes from Hashem.

כו  טוֹב וְיָחִיל וְדוּמָם לִתְשׁוּעַת יְהֹוָה׃

27  It is good for a man, when young, To bear a yoke;

כז  טוֹב לַגֶּבֶר כִּי־יִשָּׂא עֹל בִּנְעוּרָיו׃

28  Let him sit alone and be patient, When He has laid it upon him.

כח  יֵשֵׁב בָּדָד וְיִדֹּם כִּי נָטַל עָלָיו׃

29  Let him put his mouth to the dust— There may yet be hope.

כט  יִתֵּן בֶּעָפָר פִּיהוּ אוּלַי יֵשׁ תִּקְוָה׃

30  Let him offer his cheek to the smiter; Let him be surfeited with mockery.

ל  יִתֵּן לְמַכֵּהוּ לֶחִי יִשְׂבַּע בְּחֶרְפָּה׃

31  For Hashem does not Reject forever,

KEE LO yiz-NAKH l’-o-LAM a-do-NAI

לא  כִּי לֹא יִזְנַח לְעוֹלָם אֲדֹנָי׃

3:31   For the Lord does not reject forever

Throughout the many episodes of persecution, Jews have remembered the critical message of this verse: The suffering of the Jewish people will not be eternal. Already in the days of Moshe, Hashem assured His people that though they may face His wrath and anger, though He may send nations to oppress them, they will always remain His chosen nation. Their suffering will eventually come to an end, and Hashem will redeem His people, as it says: “Yet, even then, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or spurn them so as to destroy them, annulling My covenant with them: for I Hashem am their God” (Leviticus 26:44). To the contrary, “I will remember My covenant with Yaakov; I will remember also My covenant with Yitzchak, and also My covenant with Avraham I will remember; and I will remember the land” (Leviticus 26:42). Indeed, after years of persecution and suffering, the Jewish people are thriving and the Land of Israel is flourishing, thus demonstrating the eternal truth of this verse.Comment

32  But first afflicts, then pardons In His abundant kindness.

לב  כִּי אִם־הוֹגָה וְרִחַם כְּרֹב חסדו [חֲסָדָיו׃]

33  For He does not willfully bring grief Or affliction to man,

לג  כִּי לֹא עִנָּה מִלִּבּוֹ וַיַּגֶּה בְנֵי־אִישׁ׃

34  Crushing under His feet All the prisoners of the earth.

לד  לְדַכֵּא תַּחַת רַגְלָיו כֹּל אֲסִירֵי אָרֶץ׃

35  To deny a man his rights In the presence of the Most High,

לה  לְהַטּוֹת מִשְׁפַּט־גָּבֶר נֶגֶד פְּנֵי עֶלְיוֹן׃

36  To wrong a man in his cause— This Hashem does not choose.

לו  לְעַוֵּת אָדָם בְּרִיבוֹ אֲדֹנָי לֹא רָאָה׃

37  Whose decree was ever fulfilled, Unless Hashem willed it?

לז  מִי זֶה אָמַר וַתֶּהִי אֲדֹנָי לֹא צִוָּה׃

38  Is it not at the word of the Most High, That weal and woe befall?

לח  מִפִּי עֶלְיוֹן לֹא תֵצֵא הָרָעוֹת וְהַטּוֹב׃

39  Of what shall a living man complain? Each one of his own sins!

לט  מַה־יִּתְאוֹנֵן אָדָם חָי גֶּבֶר עַל־חטאו [חֲטָאָיו׃]

40  Let us search and examine our ways, And turn back to Hashem;

מ  נַחְפְּשָׂה דְרָכֵינוּ וְנַחְקֹרָה וְנָשׁוּבָה עַד־יְהֹוָה׃

41  Let us lift up our hearts with our hands To Hashem in heaven:

מא  נִשָּׂא לְבָבֵנוּ אֶל־כַּפָּיִם אֶל־אֵל בַּשָּׁמָיִם׃

42  We have transgressed and rebelled, And You have not forgiven.

מב  נַחְנוּ פָשַׁעְנוּ וּמָרִינוּ אַתָּה לֹא סָלָחְתָּ׃

43  You have clothed Yourself in anger and pursued us, You have slain without pity.

מג  סַכֹּתָה בָאַף וַתִּרְדְּפֵנוּ הָרַגְתָּ לֹא חָמָלְתָּ׃

44  You have screened Yourself off with a cloud, That no prayer may pass through.

מד  סַכּוֹתָה בֶעָנָן לָךְ מֵעֲבוֹר תְּפִלָּה׃

45  You have made us filth and refuse In the midst of the peoples.

מה  סְחִי וּמָאוֹס תְּשִׂימֵנוּ בְּקֶרֶב הָעַמִּים׃

46  All our enemies loudly Rail against us.

pa-TZU a-LAY-nu pee-HEM kol o-y’-VAY-nu

מו  פָּצוּ עָלֵינוּ פִּיהֶם כָּל־אֹיְבֵינוּ׃

 3:46   All our enemies loudly rail against us

Many times, the enemies of the Jewish people eagerly awaited the day when the Jews would finally meet their demise. But these plans and expectations have always been divinely foiled. This verse reflects the hatred that Israel’s enemies, both historical and contemporary, have always felt towards her. In the spring of 1967, for example, Israel’s fate seemed truly doomed. Nearly all of her neighbors sought to wipe her off the map, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Here is how Abba Eban, serving at that time as Israel’s Foreign Minister, described the mood in the days leading up to the Six Day War: “There was no doubt that the howling mobs in Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad were seeing savage visions of murder and booty. Israel, for its part, had learned from Jewish history that no outrage against its men, women and children was inconceivable. Many things in Jewish history are too terrible to be believed, but nothing in that history is too terrible to have happened. Memories of the European slaughter were taking form and substance in countless Israeli hearts. They flowed into our room like turgid air and sat heavy on all our minds. As has always been the case, God had different plans, and the young State of Israel mightily and miraculously defeated its enemies.”Comment

47  Panic and pitfall are our lot, Death and destruction.

מז  פַּחַד וָפַחַת הָיָה לָנוּ הַשֵּׁאת וְהַשָּׁבֶר׃

48  My eyes shed streams of water Over the ruin of my poor people.

מח  פַּלְגֵי־מַיִם תֵּרַד עֵינִי עַל־שֶׁבֶר בַּת־עַמִּי׃

49  My eyes shall flow without cease, Without respite,

מט  עֵינִי נִגְּרָה וְלֹא תִדְמֶה מֵאֵין הֲפֻגוֹת׃

50  Until Hashem looks down And beholds from heaven.

נ  עַד־יַשְׁקִיף וְיֵרֶא יְהֹוָה מִשָּׁמָיִם׃

51  My eyes have brought me grief Over all the maidens of my city.

נא  עֵינִי עוֹלְלָה לְנַפְשִׁי מִכֹּל בְּנוֹת עִירִי׃

52  My foes have snared me like a bird, Without any cause.

נב  צוֹד צָדוּנִי כַּצִּפּוֹר אֹיְבַי חִנָּם׃

53  They have ended my life in a pit And cast stones at me.

נג  צָמְתוּ בַבּוֹר חַיָּי וַיַּדּוּ־אֶבֶן בִּי׃

54  Waters flowed over my head; I said: I am lost!

נד  צָפוּ־מַיִם עַל־רֹאשִׁי אָמַרְתִּי נִגְזָרְתִּי׃

55  I have called on Your name, Hashem, From the depths of the Pit.

נה  קָרָאתִי שִׁמְךָ יְהֹוָה מִבּוֹר תַּחְתִּיּוֹת׃

56  Hear my plea; Do not shut Your ear To my groan, to my cry!

נו  קוֹלִי שָׁמָעְתָּ אַל־תַּעְלֵם אָזְנְךָ לְרַוְחָתִי לְשַׁוְעָתִי׃

57  You have ever drawn nigh when I called You; You have said, “Do not fear!”

נז  קָרַבְתָּ בְּיוֹם אֶקְרָאֶךָּ אָמַרְתָּ אַל־תִּירָא׃

58  You championed my cause, O Hashem, You have redeemed my life.

RAV-ta a-do-NAI ree-VAY naf-SHEE ga-AL-ta kha-YAI

נח  רַבְתָּ אֲדֹנָי רִיבֵי נַפְשִׁי גָּאַלְתָּ חַיָּי׃

 3:58   You have redeemed my life

Indeed, God is the ultimate redeemer. Time and again, Hashem lifts the Jewish people up from the brink of destruction and depths of despair and helps them to stand upright once again. A shining example of this is the founding of the State of Israel. Merely three years following the end of the darkest period in Jewish history, when a third of world Jewry was brutally murdered and the future of the Jewish people seemed most bleak, God restored His nation to a position of dignity and strength. The significance of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 was not just the return of the Jewish people to their homeland; it was the reestablishment of Jewish sovereignty, and the affirmation that Hashem did not break His word. He was, and remains, the redeemer of His people.Comment

59  You have seen, Hashem, the wrong done me; Oh, vindicate my right!

נט  רָאִיתָה יְהֹוָה עַוָּתָתִי שָׁפְטָה מִשְׁפָּטִי׃

60  You have seen all their malice, All their designs against me;

ס  רָאִיתָה כָּל־נִקְמָתָם כָּל־מַחְשְׁבֹתָם לִי׃

61  You have heard, Hashem, their taunts, All their designs against me,

סא  שָׁמַעְתָּ חֶרְפָּתָם יְהֹוָה כָּל־מַחְשְׁבֹתָם עָלָי׃

62  The mouthings and pratings of my adversaries Against me all day long.

סב  שִׂפְתֵי קָמַי וְהֶגְיוֹנָם עָלַי כָּל־הַיּוֹם׃

63  See how, at their ease or at work, I am the butt of their gibes.

סג  שִׁבְתָּם וְקִימָתָם הַבִּיטָה אֲנִי מַנְגִּינָתָם׃

64  Give them, Hashem, their deserts According to their deeds.

סד  תָּשִׁיב לָהֶם גְּמוּל יְהֹוָה כְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם׃

65  Give them anguish of heart; Your curse be upon them!

סה  תִּתֵּן לָהֶם מְגִנַּת־לֵב תַּאֲלָתְךָ לָהֶם׃

66  Oh, pursue them in wrath and destroy them From under the heavens of Hashem!

סו  תִּרְדֹּף בְּאַף וְתַשְׁמִידֵם מִתַּחַת שְׁמֵי יְהֹוָה׃

4:1  Alas! The gold is dulled, Debased the finest gold! The sacred gems are spilled At every street corner.

ד:א  אֵיכָה יוּעַם זָהָב יִשְׁנֶא הַכֶּתֶם הַטּוֹב תִּשְׁתַּפֵּכְנָה אַבְנֵי־קֹדֶשׁ בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל־חוּצוֹת׃

2  The precious children of Tzion; Once valued as gold— Alas, they are accounted as earthen pots, Work of a potter’s hands!

ב  בְּנֵי צִיּוֹן הַיְקָרִים הַמְסֻלָּאִים בַּפָּז אֵיכָה נֶחְשְׁבוּ לְנִבְלֵי־חֶרֶשׂ מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי יוֹצֵר׃

3  Even jackals offer the breast And suckle their young; But my poor people has turned cruel, Like ostriches of the desert.

ג  גַּם־תנין [תַּנִּים] חָלְצוּ שַׁד הֵינִיקוּ גּוּרֵיהֶן בַּת־עַמִּי לְאַכְזָר כי ענים [כַּיְעֵנִים] בַּמִּדְבָּר׃

4  The tongue of the suckling cleaves To its palate for thirst. Little children beg for bread; None gives them a morsel.

ד  דָּבַק לְשׁוֹן יוֹנֵק אֶל־חכּוֹ בַּצָּמָא עוֹלָלִים שָׁאֲלוּ לֶחֶם פֹּרֵשׂ אֵין לָהֶם׃

5  Those who feasted on dainties Lie famished in the streets; Those who were reared in purple Have embraced refuse heaps.

ה  הָאֹכְלִים לְמַעֲדַנִּים נָשַׁמּוּ בַּחוּצוֹת הָאֱמֻנִים עֲלֵי תוֹלָע חִבְּקוּ אַשְׁפַּתּוֹת׃

6  The guilt of my poor people Exceeded the iniquity of Sodom, Which was overthrown in a moment, Without a hand striking it.

ו  וַיִּגְדַּל עֲוׂן בַּת־עַמִּי מֵחַטַּאת סְדֹם הַהֲפוּכָה כְמוֹ־רָגַע וְלֹא־חָלוּ בָהּ יָדָיִם׃

7  Her elect were purer than snow, Whiter than milk; Their limbs were ruddier than coral, Their bodies were like sapphire.

ז  זַכּוּ נְזִירֶיהָ מִשֶּׁלֶג צַחוּ מֵחָלָב אָדְמוּ עֶצֶם מִפְּנִינִים סַפִּיר גִּזְרָתָם׃

8  Now their faces are blacker than soot, They are not recognized in the streets; Their skin has shriveled on their bones, It has become dry as wood.

ח  חָשַׁךְ מִשְּׁחוֹר תָּאֳרָם לֹא נִכְּרוּ בַּחוּצוֹת צָפַד עוֹרָם עַל־עַצְמָם יָבֵשׁ הָיָה כָעֵץ׃

9  Better off were the slain of the sword Than those slain by famine, Who pined away, [as though] wounded, For lack of the fruits of the field.

ט  טוֹבִים הָיוּ חַלְלֵי־חֶרֶב מֵחַלְלֵי רָעָב שֶׁהֵם יָזוּבוּ מְדֻקָּרִים מִתְּנוּבֹת שָׂדָי׃

10  With their own hands, tenderhearted women Have cooked their children; Such became their fare, In the disaster of my poor people.

י  יְדֵי נָשִׁים רַחֲמָנִיּוֹת בִּשְּׁלוּ יַלְדֵיהֶן הָיוּ לְבָרוֹת לָמוֹ בְּשֶׁבֶר בַּת־עַמִּי׃

11  Hashem vented all His fury, Poured out His blazing wrath; He kindled a fire in Tzion Which consumed its foundations.

יא  כִּלָּה יְהֹוָה אֶת־חֲמָתוֹ שָׁפַךְ חֲרוֹן אַפּוֹ וַיַּצֶּת־אֵשׁ בְּצִיּוֹן וַתֹּאכַל יְסוֹדֹתֶיהָ׃

12  The kings of the earth did not believe, Nor any of the inhabitants of the world, That foe or adversary could enter The gates of Yerushalayim.

יב  לֹא הֶאֱמִינוּ מַלְכֵי־אֶרֶץ וכל [כֹּל] יֹשְׁבֵי תֵבֵל כִּי יָבֹא צַר וְאוֹיֵב בְּשַׁעֲרֵי יְרוּשָׁלָ ִם׃

13  It was for the sins of her Neviim, The iniquities of her Kohanim, Who had shed in her midst the blood of the just.

יג  מֵחַטֹּאת נְבִיאֶיהָ עֲוׂנוֹת כֹּהֲנֶיהָ הַשֹּׁפְכִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ דַּם צַדִּיקִים׃

14  They wandered blindly through the streets, Defiled with blood, So that no one was able To touch their garments.

יד  נָעוּ עִוְרִים בַּחוּצוֹת נְגֹאֲלוּ בַּדָּם בְּלֹא יוּכְלוּ יִגְּעוּ בִּלְבֻשֵׁיהֶם׃

15  “Away! Unclean!” people shouted at them, “Away! Away! Touch not!” So they wandered and wandered again; For the nations had resolved: “They shall stay here no longer.”

SU-ru ta-MAY KA-r’-u LA-mo SU-ru SU-ru al ti-GA-u KEE na-TZU gam na-U a-m’-RU ba-go-YIM LO yo-SI-fu la-GUR

טו  סוּרוּ טָמֵא קָרְאוּ לָמוֹ סוּרוּ סוּרוּ אַל־תִּגָּעוּ כִּי נָצוּ גַּם־נָעוּ אָמְרוּ בַּגּוֹיִם לֹא יוֹסִיפוּ לָגוּר׃

 4:15   For the nations had resolved: “They shall stay here no longer.”

The insulting jeers described in this verse were repeated not too long ago. Following the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, Jews were not only denied entry into many foreign countries, but even the borders of their homeland were closed. After the conclusion of World War II, Palestine (as the Land of Israel was then called) was under British sovereignty and the British government put a strict quota on the number of Jewish refugees allowed to enter. Furthermore, many of those who defied the quota and managed to cross the border into the Promised Land without British permission were rounded up and placed in detention camps, such as the one in the northern coastal city of Atlit. However, the will of Hashem could not be thwarted. After the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the declaration “They shall stay here no longer” quickly became obsolete. With the Knesset’s passing of the Law of Return, every Jew in the world became entitled to move to Israel and obtain citizenship in the new country. Since then, millions of Jews have moved from all corners of the globe to the Holy Land. For the first time in almost two thousand years, almost half of the Jews in the world now live in Israel and indeed, “they stay here” once again.Comment

16  Hashem‘s countenance has turned away from them, He will look on them no more. They showed no regard for Kohanim, No favor to elders.

טז  פְּנֵי יְהֹוָה חִלְּקָם לֹא יוֹסִיף לְהַבִּיטָם פְּנֵי כֹהֲנִים לֹא נָשָׂאוּ זקנים [וּזְקֵנִים] לֹא חָנָנוּ׃

17  Even now our eyes pine away In vain for deliverance. As we waited, still we wait For a nation that cannot help.

יז  עודינה [עוֹדֵינוּ] תִּכְלֶינָה עֵינֵינוּ אֶל־עֶזְרָתֵנוּ הָבֶל בְּצִפִּיָּתֵנוּ צִפִּינוּ אֶל־גּוֹי לֹא יוֹשִׁעַ׃

18  Our steps were checked, We could not walk in our squares. Our doom is near, our days are done— Alas, our doom has come!

יח  צָדוּ צְעָדֵינוּ מִלֶּכֶת בִּרְחֹבֹתֵינוּ קָרַב קִצֵּינוּ מָלְאוּ יָמֵינוּ כִּי־בָא קִצֵּינוּ׃

19  Our pursuers were swifter Than the eagles in the sky; They chased us in the mountains, Lay in wait for us in the wilderness.

ka-LEEM ha-YU ro-d’-FAY-nu mi-nish-RAY sha-MA-yim al he-ha-REEM d-la-KU-nu ba-mid-BAR a-r’-VU LA-nu

יט  קַלִּים הָיוּ רֹדְפֵינוּ מִנִּשְׁרֵי שָׁמָיִם עַל־הֶהָרִים דְּלָקֻנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אָרְבוּ לָנוּ׃

 4:19   They chased us in the mountains

This verse conveys a sense that the enemy lurks on all terrains and in all locations, and is impossible to escape. Unfortunately, even after arriving on the shores of Eretz Yisrael following the Holocaust, Jewish refugees from Europe encountered a situation similar to that described in this verse. Having survived the Nazis, these Jews were met by a new enemy: The local Arab population, which fought violently to keep them away from their ancient homeland. This enemy also waged war on a number of fronts, including the mountains and the wilderness, as described in this verse. In January of 1948, a terrible tragedy took place in the Judean hills. A group of thirty-five soldiers was dispatched to bring provisions and food to the beleaguered communities of Gush Etzion, the Etzion bloc. They set out on foot at night to avoid detection, but the sun rose before they managed to reach their destination. Still in the vicinity of hostile villages, they were detected by some Arab women who had gone down to the valley to gather branches.. Arab mobs were quickly deployed and after a lengthy battle, all thirty-five of the soldiers were killed in a bloody massacre. “They chased us in the mountains, lay in wait for us in the wilderness.”Comment

20  The breath of our life, Hashem‘s anointed, Was captured in their traps— He in whose shade we had thought To live among the nations.

כ  רוּחַ אַפֵּינוּ מְשִׁיחַ יְהֹוָה נִלְכַּד בִּשְׁחִיתוֹתָם אֲשֶׁר אָמַרְנוּ בְּצִלּוֹ נִחְיֶה בַגּוֹיִם׃

21  Rejoice and exult, Fair Edom, Who dwell in the land of Uz! To you, too, the cup shall pass, You shall get drunk and expose your nakedness.

כא  שִׂישִׂי וְשִׂמְחִי בַּת־אֱדוֹם יושבתי [יוֹשֶׁבֶת] בְּאֶרֶץ עוּץ גַּם־עָלַיִךְ תַּעֲבָר־כּוֹס תִּשְׁכְּרִי וְתִתְעָרִי׃

22  Your iniquity, Fair Tzion, is expiated; He will exile you no longer. Your iniquity, Fair Edom, He will note; He will uncover your sins.

כב  תַּם־עֲוׂנֵךְ בַּת־צִיּוֹן לֹא יוֹסִיף לְהַגְלוֹתֵךְ פָּקַד עֲוׂנֵךְ בַּת־אֱדוֹם גִּלָּה עַל־חַטֹּאתָיִךְ׃

5:1  Remember, Hashem, what has befallen us; Behold, and see our disgrace!

ה:א  זְכֹר יְהֹוָה מֶה־הָיָה לָנוּ הביט [הַבִּיטָה] וּרְאֵה אֶת־חֶרְפָּתֵנוּ׃

2  Our heritage has passed to aliens, Our homes to strangers.

na-kha-la-TAY-nu ne-hef-KHAH l’-za-REEM ba-TAY-nu l’-nokh-REEM

ב  נַחֲלָתֵנוּ נֶהֶפְכָה לְזָרִים בָּתֵּינוּ לְנָכְרִים׃

5:2   Our heritage has passed to aliens

In the past century, we have merited to witness a reversal of this prophetic statement with our own eyes. Whereas Yirmiyahu bemoans the fact that Jewish land has been seized by foreigners, today, Jews have returned to their ancient homeland and reclaimed lands that have belonged to them from the time that they were promised by Hashem to Avraham and his descendants for eternity.Comment

3  We have become orphans, fatherless; Our mothers are like widows.

ג  יְתוֹמִים הָיִינוּ אין [וְאֵין] אָב אִמֹּתֵינוּ כְּאַלְמָנוֹת׃

4  We must pay to drink our own water, Obtain our own kindling at a price.

ד  מֵימֵינוּ בְּכֶסֶף שָׁתִינוּ עֵצֵינוּ בִּמְחִיר יָבֹאוּ׃

5  We are hotly pursued; Exhausted, we are given no rest.

ה  עַל צַוָּארֵנוּ נִרְדָּפְנוּ יָגַעְנוּ לא [וְלֹא] הוּנַח לָנוּ׃

6  We hold out a hand to Egypt; To Assyria, for our fill of bread.

ו  מִצְרַיִם נָתַנּוּ יָד אַשּׁוּר לִשְׂבֹּעַ לָחֶם׃

7  Our fathers sinned and are no more; And we must bear their guilt.

ז  אֲבֹתֵינוּ חָטְאוּ אינם [וְאֵינָם] אנחנו [וַאֲנַחְנוּ] עֲוׂנֹתֵיהֶם סָבָלְנוּ׃

8  Slaves are ruling over us, With none to rescue us from them.

ח  עֲבָדִים מָשְׁלוּ בָנוּ פֹּרֵק אֵין מִיָּדָם׃

9  We get our bread at the peril of our lives, Because of the sword of the wilderness.

ט  בְּנַפְשֵׁנוּ נָבִיא לַחְמֵנוּ מִפְּנֵי חֶרֶב הַמִּדְבָּר׃

10  Our skin glows like an oven, With the fever of famine.

י  עוֹרֵנוּ כְּתַנּוּר נִכְמָרוּ מִפְּנֵי זַלְעֲפוֹת רָעָב׃

11  They have ravished women in Tzion, Maidens in the towns of Yehuda.

יא  נָשִׁים בְּצִיּוֹן עִנּוּ בְּתֻלֹת בְּעָרֵי יְהוּדָה׃

12  Princes have been hanged by them; No respect has been shown to elders.

יב  שָׂרִים בְּיָדָם נִתְלוּ פְּנֵי זְקֵנִים לֹא נֶהְדָּרוּ׃

13  Young men must carry millstones, And youths stagger under loads of wood.

יג  בַּחוּרִים טְחוֹן נָשָׂאוּ וּנְעָרִים בָּעֵץ כָּשָׁלוּ׃

14  The old men are gone from the gate, The young men from their music.

יד  זְקֵנִים מִשַּׁעַר שָׁבָתוּ בַּחוּרִים מִנְּגִינָתָם׃

15  Gone is the joy of our hearts; Our dancing is turned into mourning.

טו  שָׁבַת מְשׂוֹשׂ לִבֵּנוּ נֶהְפַּךְ לְאֵבֶל מְחֹלֵנוּ׃

16  The crown has fallen from our head; Woe to us that we have sinned!

טז  נָפְלָה עֲטֶרֶת רֹאשֵׁנוּ אוֹי־נָא לָנוּ כִּי חָטָאנוּ׃

17  Because of this our hearts are sick, Because of these our eyes are dimmed:

יז  עַל־זֶה הָיָה דָוֶה לִבֵּנוּ עַל־אֵלֶּה חָשְׁכוּ עֵינֵינוּ׃

18  Because of Mount Tzion, which lies desolate; Jackals prowl over it.

AL har tzi-YON she-sha-MAYM shu-a-LEEM hi-l’-khu VO

יח  עַל הַר־צִיּוֹן שֶׁשָּׁמֵם שׁוּעָלִים הִלְּכוּ־בוֹ׃

 5:18   Because of Mount Tzion, which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it

Though the image of jackals running freely on Har HaBayit certainly reflects the devastation and desolation of Yerushalayim, some find hope even in the depths of darkness. The Talmud (Makkot 24b) relates that a number of leading Sages were visiting Yerushalayim following the destruction of the Temple, and they came upon the ruins of the Temple Mount. Upon seeing a jackal scamper across the holiest site in the world, three of the four rabbis began to cry. The great Rabbi Akiva, on the other hand, began to laugh joyously. Shocked, they asked him to explain his behavior. Rabbi Akiva explained that if the prophecies of destruction had indeed been fulfilled, we can be certain that the promises of redemption will also be fulfilled. The Jews have always maintained immutable optimism and unwavering faith that the Almighty will preserve His covenant with them, and in modern times He has begun to fulfill His promises of redemption.2 comments

19  But You, Hashem, are enthroned forever, Your throne endures through the ages.

יט  אַתָּה יְהֹוָה לְעוֹלָם תֵּשֵׁב כִּסְאֲךָ לְדֹר וָדוֹר׃

20  Why have You forgotten us utterly, Forsaken us for all time?

כ  לָמָּה לָנֶצַח תִּשְׁכָּחֵנוּ תַּעַזְבֵנוּ לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים׃

21  Take us back, Hashem, to Yourself, And let us come back; Renew our days as of old!

ha-shee-VAY-nu a-do-NAI ay-LE-kha v’-na-SHU-vah kha-DAYSH ya-MAY-nu k’-KE-dem

כא  הֲשִׁיבֵנוּ יְהֹוָה אֵלֶיךָ ונשוב [וְנָשׁוּבָה] חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כְּקֶדֶם׃

 5:21   Take us back, Hashem

This verse is one of the most significant verses in the entire book. Traditionally, when Megillat Eicha is read in synagogues on the ninth of Av, this verse is repeated at the conclusion of the reading, to highlight its significance and to end on a positive note. The verse emphasizes that Hashem will one day return the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, and renew the intimate relationship with Him centered around a rebuilt Temple in Yerushalayim. Moreover, it reminds us that a relationship with our Maker is a two-way street; we return to God, and God returns to us. Our generation has been blessed with the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise. The Jewish people have started their return to the land of their fathers, and the realization of the dream of redemption has begun. We sincerely pray for the fulfillment of the final redemption, a complete return to Hashem and the coming of the Mashiach.Comment

22  For truly, You have rejected us, Bitterly raged against us. Take us back, Hashem, to Yourself, And let us come back; Renew our days as of old!

כב  כִּי אִם־מָאֹס מְאַסְתָּנוּ קָצַפְתָּ עָלֵינוּ עַד־מְאֹד׃ [השיבנו יהוה אליך ונשובה חדש ימינו כקדם]

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