Kinah 14: Rereading The Question
“He cut down the towering stature of Adam, the creature He had fashioned with His own hands,
He had just stepped into the treasure house of Eden when he was evicted. Thus God demonstrated to him that the couch is too short.”
We cannot think of all the death and destruction of Tisha B’Av without going back to the first sin and the first exile that soon followed; Adam in the Garden.
We cannot think of Adam’s sin, so soon after being fashioned by God, without wondering whose fault was it that Adam sinned? Is it possible for us to live without sin? Were we always destined to live in exile? The first “Eichah,” – “Ayekah,” is a question to one who has lost his place: “Where are you?”
We think of the spectacular failures that led to Israel wandering the desert for forty years, and the destruction of the two Batei Mikdash and Beitar and automatically think back to that first day, so soon after God fashioned Adam, and reread the question and respond to God’s, “Where are You?” with our own question of “Eichah?” – “How could this be?” Or, “Could it be otherwise?”
Tisha B’Av takes us to the core of the human struggle to soar and create, to master ourselves, to “conquer” the world, which inevitably confronts us with the possibility of sin. We begin by remembering the tragic events of Tisha B’Av, but soon go to reflecting on the failures that have haunted humanity since the Garden.
It is easy for one who is mourning to think back on humanity’s slips and weep, “Eichah,” “Alas!” However, we too can reread the “Eichah” to “Ayekah,” a simple question that has more than one answer, “Where are you?” We can respond as Adam did not, “We sinned, but are prepared to repair.”
The true tragedy is when we are stuck in the “Eichah” mode, focusing on failures and the difficulties of a creative life. The solution is a simple rereading of the word as “Ayekah,” to take time to reflect and ask ourselves, “Are we where we want to be?”
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