Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Av 5759 - July 14 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Eichoh Yoshvo Bodod
by L. Yungerman

"She was like a widow." There is no nation on earth whose countenance bears the imprint of isolation as does the Jews. Even those who never knew any other existence, go about their lonely way, split, demi-people, not certain themselves why they feel so lonely, desolate and isolated.

Tisha B'Av and the seder night of Pesach always fall on the same day of the week. The latter commemorates the nuptials, as it were, between the Creator and the Jewish people, while Tisha B'Av commemorates the severance of that bond, for which no substitute was found, reducing Israel to the state of a rejected widow.

All attempts to reunite the rend of widowhood through alternate means have cost us blood, fire and incinerating smokestacks. Our history's chronicles, written upon parchments of flesh and blood, are the painful witnesses of the Torah's description, "She sat alone, she was like a widow."

The Sfas Emes writes that Megillas Eicho is like part of [Chumash] Torah. It is a testimony against the Jews that they are now like a half person. We have no true existence or reality in exile without Eretz Yisroel and the Beis Hamikdosh. This is the meaning of "Eichoh yoshvo - - How did she sit . . . " This is how it must be: no Jew can ever find his place in exile, not as an individual and certainly not as a nation.


Many suggestions were put forth over the years to dispel our loneliness and isolation. Some thought that if we responded to the extended arm of the gentiles outstretched in amity, we would succeed in effacing their mocking expression. But we did not foresee that if the sardonic smile left, it would be replaced by anger. "For when [the Jew] forgets that he is a stranger in a foreign land," writes the Meshech Chochmah, "and imagines that he belongs there and does not anticipate the assistance of Hashem, the storm will brew even more fiercely to remind him in shrieking volume: You are a Jew!"

The last advice which our people was given to lift themselves from isolation has reduced us to a state where we are all up to our necks in murky waters. There were those who thought that if the Jewish people had its own sovereign state with its independent military power and diplomatic status on the world scene, then it would be accepted among other nations as a peer, and they would no longer be alone.

This state is instead the very personification of isolation and separateness.

How is it that an area so tiny on the world-map has been defined by the United Nations Secretary as "one of the most turbulent places on earth?" How did it come to be that in such a vast world there is not a single other nation that can comprehend that the Jewish state be allowed a right to exist? What mind can comprehend the notion that those powers who pride themselves on representing equality and individual rights, seek to force a tiny, threatened country to bow, scrape and fold up before its primeval enemies? What explanation can be found for this state of being if not "she sat alone"?

How symbolic is the fact that on Rosh Chodesh Av, the day from which we commence diminishing all signs of joy up till Tisha B'Av, that frightening day upon which Israel learned last year of the threatening news that Iran had successfully launched a missile which can transverse the entire country. That country which emblazoned upon its flag a goal of absolute annihilation for us, G-d forbid, is in the final stages of completing full capacity of nuclear weaponry which can wipe out everything!

This reality is only threatening to those who thought that our nation was part of the world body of all other nations, like-unto and part of the world community -- and not separate, shunned and isolated. We have an army; we have power. But if we bear in mind the clarion cry of Megillas Eicho that rings out for all time, "She sits alone," and we pray and hope for the renewal of the bond that was severed, then we can hope that the prophecy of "There is hope for your future" shall also be realized.

"And this is what is written, `Our dancing was transformed to mourning.' Our work is to reverse that statement through repentance and mourning. For the weeping and lamenting is in itself a testimony, just as the rejoicing was a testimony during the time of the Beis Hamikdosh" (Sfas Emes).

The mourning of Tisha B'Av expresses, in a different manner, exactly what the singing of the exodus from Egypt expressed. Both alike are a declaration that "without You we have no King Who redeems and saves."

And when we realize that we are alone, only then are we truly not alone.

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