Lamentations: First Kinah – Line 15 Part One
“Slaves rule over us…For we have neglected the release of (Hebrew) slaves.” Kohelet : “I have seen slaves on horseback, and nobles walking on the ground like slaves.” Rashi: This refers to the Kasdim (Babylonians)
leading the Jews into exile.
Talmud: “I looked, and lo, a stormy wind came sweeping out of the north-a huge cloud and flashing fire, surrounded by a radiance; and in the center of it, in the center of the fire, a gleam of amber. ” What was it doing there? Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav, It went to conquer the entire world for Nebuchadnezzar. Why the entire world? So that the nations of the world should not say that God handed His children over to an insignificant nation. The Holy One Blessed Be He said, ‘Who caused Me to be as a servant to idol worshippers? The sins of Israel caused this to me. ’
Babylon was a nation of slaves. They were no more than an insignificant nation. God granted them their power and glory only so that other nations would not say that a nation of slaves had conquered Israel. We believe that all the powerful nations that have had power over the Jews are no more than slaves to God’s Will. They are granted their power only for God’s and Israel’s honor.
We also learn from the above selection that God refers to Himself as a servant to the other nations. It is not only we who are slaves to “slaves”; it is God as well. He serves them and helps them achieve power and glory. This is caused by the sins of the Jews. It is easy to forget that our suffering and humiliation is God’s as well. When we weep over the Destruction we are also crying for God’s honor that suffers with our shame. Our world is not the world as it should be. It does not reflect the honor. On the contrary, as long as we are in exile and the Temple is destroyed God’s Presence is lessened in the world.
Sanhedrin: Rava said, “Nebuchadnezzar sent Nebuzaradan three hundred mule loads of iron axes that could prevail over iron, but one gate of Jerusalem swallowed them all, as it is stated, ‘its entranceways they beat with hatches and axes together. ’ Nebuzaradan sought to withdraw. He said, ‘I am afraid lest they do to me what they did to Sancherib.’ A Heavenly voice emanated and said, ‘O leaper the son of a leaper! Nebuzaradan leap into battle and conquer Jerusalem! For the time has come for the Temple to be destroyed and for the Sanctuary to be burned!’ Nebuzaradan had a single axe left over. He went and struck the gate with the axe’s blunt end and it opened .
The destruction could not have happened without God’s help. All of Nebuzaradan’s axes failed. He only had one left. Yet, he was able to break through the gate with the blunt end of his last axe. It was not the axe that broke the gate. It was God Who smashed the gate. Our sins caused God to be an active participant in the destruction of His own Temple.