Megillas Eichah

Given that we are now in the annual three-week period of mourning over the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, I present some teachings from the Maggid’s commentary on Megillas Eichah (Lamentations), which we read on the fast of Tishah B’Av. In Eichah 3:23, it is written: “They come anew each morning – Your faithfulness is great.” The Midrash presents a comment on this verse by R. Shimon bar Abba (Eichah Rabbah 3:20): “From the fact that You recast [Your relationship with] us at the dawning of each major kingdom, we know that You can be firmly counted on to redeem us.” We can understand this comment by reflecting on why God sent us into exile. We have to understand that Hashem did not exile us out of anger, intending to make our souls languish. Far be it for Hashem to do evil – He intends only good for the Jewish People. His sole aim is to benefit us in the end. He afflicts us only because our condition requires it.
This idea is reflected in the following verse (Tehillim 77:11, homiletically): “On account of my sickness the Most High One’s right hand has changed over.” It is like a father who makes his son take bitter medicines because the son is sick. The medicine is meant to clear the son’s system of the disease and restore him to his former strength. The Maggid elaborates on this theme at length several times in his commentary on Eichah. The son initially will view his father as a total enemy whose intent is to aggravate him. But when he sees that the doctor sometimes tells the father to throw out the old medicines and prepare new ones in their stead, the son will then understand that the father is acting for his good. If the father wished merely to afflict him, why would he switch to a different medicine? Surely the original medicine, with its horribly bitter taste, would do the job well enough. Similarly, from the fact that Hashem sometimes cancels the old decrees and subjects us to new ones, we have clear evidence that His intent must be for our good. This is what the Midrash is telling us. We can draw encouragement from this teaching.
At the same time, we have to recognize that Hashem is in pain, so to speak, over the fact that He has to bring us suffering rather than the blessing that He wishes to bring us. In this connection, the Midrash in Shemos Rabbah 2:5, expounding on Hashem’s conversation with Moshe at the burning bush, teaches as follows:
Said R. Yannai: “Just like with twins, if one has a headache, the other feels it. In the same vein, the Holy One Blessed Be He said (Tehillim 91:15), ‘I am with him in distress.’” Another point: What is the meaning of “I am with him in distress”? When they are in trouble, they call out only to the Holy One Blessed Be He. Thus it was in Egypt, as it is written (Shemos 2:23): “And their supplication rose up to God.” And thus it was by the sea, as it is written (ibid. 14:10): “And the Children of Yisrael cried out unto Hashem ….” There are many other such instances. Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to Moshe: “Do you not sense that I am engulfed in pain when the People of Yisrael are engulfed in pain? You can know from the fact that I am speaking to you, so to speak, from amidst the brambles that I share their pain.”
On Tishah B’Av, as we lament the fact that we are in a state of exile, without the Beis HaMikdash, we should lament especially over the pain Hashem Himself feels because of this state of affairs.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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