"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
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
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
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
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