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The three Eichas and rebuilding who we are

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“Three prophesied with the term eicha: Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Moses said: “Eicha–how– can I bear alone…” (Deuteronomy 1:12). Isaiah said: “Eicha–how– did the faithful city become a harlot?” (Isaiah 1:21). Jeremiah said: “Eicha–how– does the greatly crowded city sit alone?” Rabbi Levi said: This is analogous to a noblewoman who had three friends. One saw her in her tranquility, one saw her in her degeneracy, and one saw her in her disgrace. So, Moses saw them in their glory and their tranquility and said: “Eicha–how–can I bear alone your troubles?” Isaiah saw them in their degeneracy and said: “Eicha–how– did the faithful city become a harlot?” Jeremiah saw them in their disgrace and said: “Eicha–how– does the greatly crowded city sit alone?” –Eicha Rabba (1:1)

While Isaiah’s Eicha lamenting the moral collapse of Jerusalem and Jeremiah’s lamentation of its destruction make sense, Moses’s Eicha does not. Is being overwhelmed by the Jews’ complaints and the need for more judges comparable to the other Eicha’s? Does it really make sense to read it on Shabbat Chazon with the same tunes of Eicha?

To properly understand this, we must appreciate the big picture given to us here.

This Midrash here very much captures the scope of the tragedy in Jewish history.

The three kinds of Eicha accompany us throughout our history.

First comes the Eicha of Moses, the collapse of governance, the ability to work together, and the ability to trust each other. Some commentaries tie this Eicha to the Talmud’s statement ( tractate Gitin) “Jerusalem was destroyed because everything insisted on following the strict Torah judgment (“din Torah“). Moses is overwhelmed because everyone comes to him with a quarrel. There was a breakdown of civil society and the ability of Jews to resolve things among themselves. Moses’s Eicha is him throwing his hands up and saying: “these people are not governable.” The collapse of systems of government and institutions is........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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