Lamentations 3
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

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

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׃

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