Megillas Eichah

The “Three Weeks” is the time to focus on the great loss we suffered when the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed, and to pray for its restoration. The Maggid’s commentary on Megillas Eichah is a source of inspiration on this topic. My translation of this work is described on the “Voice of Weepers” page of this site. That page provides links to two excerpts from the book. I present below another piece, slightly adapted from the printed version.
Yirmiyah exhorts us (Eichah 2:19): “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches! Pour out your heart before Hashem like water.” The Maggid says that the meaning of the word before in this verse is the same as in the verse (Bereishis 25:21): “And Yitzchak entreated the Hashem before his wife, for she was barren …. ” On this verse the Midrash comments that Yitzchak prayed for Rivkah without giving a thought to praying for himself (Bereishis Rabbah 63:5). In a similar vein, Yirmiyah tells us here that when we pray, we should not be focused on our own troubles and needs. Instead, we should concentrate exclusively on pleading for the exiled Divine Presence.
Another Midrash expresses the same idea. The Midrash states (Yalkut Shimoni II:679):
“Hashem shall answer you on the day of trouble” (Tehillim 20:2). Said the Holy One Blessed Be He: “When trouble comes upon Yisrael, and they seek Me and combine concern for My honor with their concerns, at that time I answer them. …”
This is how Yirmiyah exhorts us to frame our prayers.
The Maggid presents an allegory to bring out the point. A man was put in prison, and conclusively sentenced to death. A certain kind gentleman resolved to redeem this man, but he could not amass the ransom money. The gentleman therefore took all his finest household goods and expensive jewelry and pawned everything for the ransom money. In this way he gained the prisoner’s release. Now this released prisoner has a duty to reciprocate the kind benefactor who rescued him. The least he should do is collect the money needed to redeem his rescuer’s possessions from the pawnbroker. To this end, he should work unceasingly, not allowing himself any sleep or rest. Moreover, he ought to be sparing on personal expenses, in order to save money to reimburse his rescuer. If instead he squanders his money thoughtlessly, his ill-conduct will be obvious to everyone.
The parallel is as follows. It is written (Shemos 38:21): “These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony . …” The Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 51:3) says that this verse, with its repetition of the word mishkan, hints at the fact that the Beis HaMikdash was to be pawned twice. [The Midrash builds on the similarity between the word mishkan and the word mashkon, meaning collateral.] Hashem pawned the Beis HaMikdash in order to ransom the Jewish People. Another Midrash brings out the idea further (Eichah Rabbah 4:14): “The Holy One Blessed Be He poured out His wrath on the wood and stones [of the Beis HaMikdash], and did not pour out His wrath on Yissrael.” We deserved a severe sentence, but the Beis HaMikdash was given as ransom to redeem us. Hence it is surely proper that we exert ourselves to gain the Beis HaMikdash’s restoration. When we offer our daily prayers, we should cast aside our personal needs and focus entirely on the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the exile of the Divine Presence. Our verse teaches us this lesson.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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