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Forms of Mourning: Kinah III: The Beginning and the End

“He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.”  As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.
He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day.
The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what My Master, God, the Lord says.’
And whether they listen or fail to listen,
for they are a rebellious house,
they will know that a prophet has been among them.

And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words.
Do not be afraid,
though briers and thorns are all around you
and you live among scorpions.
Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them,
though they are a rebellious house.

You must speak my words to them,
whether they listen or fail to listen,
for they are rebellious.

But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you.
Do not rebel like that rebellious house;
open your mouth
and eat what I give you.”

Then I looked,
and I saw a hand stretched out to me.
In it was a scroll,
which he unrolled before me.
On front and back
were written words of lament
and mourning and woe.

And he said to me,
“Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel.”
So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
Then he said to me,
“Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you
and fill your stomach with it.”
So I ate it,
and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
(Ezekiel, Chapter 2 – 3:3).”

“On front and back,” the face had the story of life in this world,
while the back contained the story of the World to Come.
The face described the peace of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous in this world.
The back described the reward of the righteous and the suffering of the wicked in the World to Come.
“Lament,” over the damage caused by the wicked.
“Mourning,” over the suffering of the righteous in this world.
“Woe,” in fear over the punishment of the wicked in the Coming World (Sifrei).

“On front and back,” the front described what happened; the back described the future. The “Lament,” was over what Israel would lose of the back, if they ignored the warnings of the front (Targum Yonatan).

“It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth,” the sweetness of fulfilling God’s Will (MaHari Kara).

A Lament must include both the front and the back; the sorrow over the past and the promise of a better future. When we experience both sides of the Lament, our empty stomachs will be nourished with the sweetness of honey!

Focus on the “sweet as honey” pleasure we can derive from the performance of Mitzvot, especially after midday, and when wrapping Tallit and Tefillin for Mincha.

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