Megillas Eichah

In Megillas Eichah it is written (verses 3:17-22):
My soul has given up on having peace; I have forsaken good. And I said, “Gone is my sustaining power and my expectation from Hashem.” Remember my poverty and degradation, the wormwood and the gall. My soul remembers well, and is bowed down within me. This I shall take to heart, and thereby I shall gain hope. The kindnesses of Hashem surely have not come to an end; His mercies surely have not ceased.
The Maggid interprets this passage by linking it with an earlier verse in Eichah (verse 1:3): “Yehudah was exiled on account of poverty and great toil. She dwelt among the nations and did not find rest. …” The Midrash remarks (Eichah Rabbah 1:29): “Had she found rest, she would not have returned. This is like the following case (Bereishis 8:9): ‘And the dove did not find rest’ [but had she found rest, she would not have returned].”
Hashem keeps going after us, the Maggid says, with a steady stream of afflictions. He never lets us rest. Why is He pursuing us so relentlessly? There are two types of pursuit. One type is where the pursuer wishes merely to chase someone out and get rid of him. The other type is where the pursuer wishes to catch someone and bring him back. We can discern the pursuer’s intent by observing how he acts when the one he is chasing has gotten far away. If the pursuer turns back, then it is clear that his intent was merely to chase the person away. But if the pursuer keeps on chasing, then it is clear that his intent is to bring the person back.
Now we, the Jewish People, have seen how Hashem has chased and persecuted us. He took away all our treasures and evicted us from His land. We might have doubts and think perhaps – far be it – that He chased us away from Him out of hatred and disgust. Indeed, it is written (Yirmiyah 15:1): “My soul would have no desire for this people – send them away from Me and let them leave.” Perhaps – far be it – His intent is to cast us away to another land once and for all. But then we see that Hashem continues to chase us with fierce vigor, even though we have been chased far away. He has not let up even though we have been chased to the very depths of the grave. This is a sign that His intent is to return us back to Him once again – in complete repentance.
In this light, the Maggid says, we can understand the passage from Eichah 3 that we quoted at the outset. Yirmiyahu “My soul has given up on having peace; I have forsaken good. And I said, ‘Gone is my sustaining power and my expectation from Hashem.’” My future seemed bleak and my hope in Hashem faded away. But then I recall “my poverty and degradation, the wormwood and the gall.” I see that there is no day whose curse is not greater than the day before (Sotah 49a). And “this I shall take to heart, and thereby I shall have hope – the kindnesses of Hashem have surely not come to an end, and His mercies surely have not ceased.” Because of His relentless pursuit, I realize that His intent is to make us repent and thus return us to our proper station.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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