Special for Tisha B’av: Summary Notes on Eicha/Lamentations

Eicha was written by Jeremiah the prophet after the destruction of the First Temple 586 B.C.E.


Chapter 1
Yermiyahu describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people –the sorrow, the betrayal, the shame, torment, devastation, humility, loneliness, ridicule, and poverty. He contrasts what Jerusalem was in its’ splendor and what it has become in its’ ruins. He calls for retribution of our enemies for rejoicing in our destruction.


Chapter 2
Yermiyahu acknowledges that all this is from G-d. In His anger He has done this to us. Our enemies are only an instrument in G-d’s hands. Of course this is poetry meant to inspire within us emotions and change. G-d is not a man who loses His cool; gets angry because His ego has been violated. The Psalmist [30:6] teaches: “In the moment of His anger is the desire for life.” So it is not about G-d unleashing His anger for His sake but with love for our sake.


Chapter 3
Yermiyahu describes the destruction in a personal way. This is not just what happened to the Jewish people but each and every one of us must take this personally. “G-d did this to me.” However, as devastated as Yermiyahu was he nonetheless affirm:
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope:
Surely, the kindnesses of G-d never ceases. Indeed His compassion never ends.

It is essential to note that Yermiyahu feels the pain. He does not start off with words of faith and plays down what happened. He acknowledges the horror, he takes it personally and yet he still come backs with words of faith. This is true faith. When you know that this is all G-d’s compassion you understand that there is purpose to this pain and meaning to this misery. And you humbly accept that all this is for our good and growth. Yermiyuhu declares:
For He does not willingly afflict (33)
It is not by command of the most High, that good and evil come. (38)
We have brought this upon ourselves. Why are we complaining?
We must take responsibility and change our ways.


Chapter 4
Yermiyahu returns back to describing the misery, the horrors. His words of faith and hope do not distract him or us from fully facing the tragedy and pain. He points out the corruption of the religious leadership and their role in this tragedy. He does, however, assert that our enemies will face justice.


Chapter 5
Yermiyahu asks G-d to remember how much pain we have suffered and that He return us to Him.