Eicha in mp3

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As we read the parsha on a weekly basis and we follow the Jewish people on their journey from slavery to the Promised Land, it is quite breathtaking how often they argue, rebel and refuse to listen to Aaron, Moses and even G-d.  Despite the fact that they are witnessing daily miracles, and are actually being sustained daily on a miraculous diet, this deters them neither from sinning nor from complaining bitterly about their lot. G-d even describes them to Moses at one point as “a stiff-necked people,” as they stubbornly insist on always seeing the glass half-empty.

So they kept on complaining and sinning until they received their inevitable punishments – and then of course they complained why were they being punished…

Being stubborn can of course have its positives: Graphologists will tell you that a stubborn streak  is visible in the handwriting of most observant Jews – indicative of the fact that to live as a committed member of the Jewish people today takes personal strength and a little stubbornness too. Some traits can be used for positive ends, but there are sadly no positives about a lack of harmony and unity – that is something that should be taboo. The Torah tells us that even the Shechina – the Divine presence – cannot dwell in a place where there is no harmony.

We are now in the period on the Jewish calendar known as the “The Three Weeks,” (Bein Hametzarim) sandwiched between the fast of the 17th Tammuz and the fast of the 9th of Av. During these three weeks we show various signs of mourning for the loss of both Holy Temples (Batei Mikdash), by not arranging weddings, cutting hair, listening to music etc.

Showing outward signs of mourning, however, is worthless if we do not remember the root cause of the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent exile – a decrease in unity and brotherhood, and an increase in hatred and ill will. It is a simple message of cause and effect. The cause was hatred and lack of unity – the effect was the destruction of the Temple, the holiest place on earth.

So yes, we mourn for the Temples, for Jerusalem and for the Divine presence: But if we really care about reversing the situation and bringing about Redemption and the building of a third Temple in Jerusalem – we need to do more than just mourn. We need to actively spread love, kindness, harmony and unity. A great rabbi was once asked by his son why we need two eyes. He replied, “G-d gave us two eyes, the right eye for seeing good, and the left eye for seeing faults. Use your right eye to look at others, and your left eye to look at yourself!”

When we can achieve that, within our families, our shuls and communities and ultimately within our nation – we will merit to see the abolishment of these days of mourning and their replacement with days of unbounded joy.

Rabbi Zalman Lent

 

The  9th of Av is the 25 hour fast (this year starts:  sunset,  Monday, August 8) commemorating when the two Temples were both destroyed.  To display our mourning we do not wear leather shoes,  act intimately,  bathe for pleasure, or anoint.  Until noontime on Tuesday, we sit on low chairs or pillows, do not put on tefillin or tallit gadol, refrain from learning Torah and certain parts of prayer which cause or show joy.  Also we should refrain from pleasant greetings.

On Monday night we read Eicha (Lamentations) which describes the first Temple’s  destruction, and on Tuesday it is customary to read special sad Kinot — prayers concentrating on the destruction.

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If  you’re planning to read Eicha in your shul this year and need a bit of  help on your Hebrew pronunciation or  want to brush up on a tune, the Virtual Cantor –  Josh Sharfman – has  recorded the entire  Eicha  in mp3  format and put  in online so that you can listen to it  anytime on your iPhone (just tap on links below or visit website  Virtual Cantor).

Eicha Chapter 1
Eicha Chapter 2
Eicha Chapter 3 (the third chapter was recorded twice to reflect a choice between two different cantillation traditions for the third chapter – Eicha Chapter 3 Alternate)
Eicha Chapter 4
Eicha Chapter 5

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