1 I further observed all the oppression that goes on under the sun: the tears of the oppressed, with none to comfort them; and the power of their oppressors—with none to comfort them.
v’-shav-TEE a-NEE va-er-EH et kol HA-a-shu-KEEM a-SHER na-a-SEEM TA-khat ha-SHA-mesh v’-hi-NAY dim-AT ha-a-shu-KEEM v’-AYN la-HEM m’-na-KHAYM u-mi-YAD o-sh’-kay-HEM KO-akh v’-AYN la-HEM m’-na-KHAYM
א וְשַׁבְתִּי אֲנִי וָאֶרְאֶה אֶת־כָּל־הָעֲשֻׁקִים אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשִׂים תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ וְהִנֵּה דִּמְעַת הָעֲשֻׁקִים וְאֵין לָהֶם מְנַחֵם וּמִיַּד עֹשְׁקֵיהֶם כֹּחַ וְאֵין לָהֶם מְנַחֵם׃
4:1 With none to comfort them
When the verse mentions “all the oppression that goes on,” it refers to the suffering of the Jewish people in exile. Kohelet observes, however, that not only do the people suffer in exile, but that they lack the leadership to comfort them. Sforno notes that the phrase “with none to comfort them” is repeated twice in this verse, hinting that they were lacking the leadership to teach them the two keys for redemption: repentance and prayer. First, the People of Israel need a leader who will guide them towards repentance, for sincere repentance leads to redemption. Second, they need a leader who will show them how to pray effectively so that their prayers will be answered, and they will be returned to the Land of Israel.