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Kinah 42-It Is We Who Must Act

“Zion, how long will your mouth be restrained by your hand from expressing wonder at how your noblemen fell into the hands of your enemies? Your children, more precious than gold, have disappeared. This deserves a bitter cry, a wail for your sorrows.


How the date for you to give birth has been postponed? How long will you be held fast by the birth pangs which have seized you? Nine months is the term for all women to give birth; why have you carried your children for so many years?

Pray to the One Who protects the gazelle in her labor, and He will loosen your birth pangs upon your embroidered couch. He calculates precisely the time for the mountain goat to deliver its young, but He has not yet calculated the time to remove your terror.

The keys to open four sealed chambers are in His hands only; He will shortly also open your treasured Temple. He will let a voice he heard, gathering the faithful, and those He entrusted with your keys will open His doors.

Zion, those who are tormented by your pain, will be enthused by your beauty when the sun shines upon your ruins.

Zion, they will bring the gifts to appease your wrath, and those who have terrorized you will bow at your feet.

Zion, adorn yourself with brocaded garments. And with courage and strength, wear your glorious and precious clothing.”

The final sentence above is based on the following verse: “Awaken! Awaken! Don strength, O arm of God! Awaken as in the days of old, as in previous generations (Isaiah 51:9).” We are familiar with this verse from the song we sing to welcome the Shabbat: “Wake up! Wake up! For your light has come, rise and shine; Awaken, awaken, utter a song, the glory of God is revealed on you.”

Although the verse itself seems to be addressing God, we read it as speaking to the Children of Israel. In the context of this Kinah, it is as if we are saying that in order for this long exiled to end, for the seemingly endless pregnancy to conclude, it is we who must wake up. It is, according to the conclusion of this Elegy, in our hands.

Reb Tzaddok haKohen of Lublin explains that this verse instructs us to use the Tefillin on our arms to control our desires and thoughts, and direct them all to service of God. It is, according to the Talmud, through our tefillin that God’s tefillin are made.

When we remember that our actions below adorn God above, we can then beautify ourselves with the tefillin on our head, and become so beautiful to God that He immediately redeems us (Pri Tzaddik, Pesach 44). [See Kinah 40-Beautiful To God]

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