Lamentations: First Kinah – Line 19 Part One
“Our skin is parched as by a furnace…for they have exchanged their glory for dishonor. Our faces turned black with hunger. “ We lost our beauty. Maharal :
“The Romans took for themselves the great beauty of Rabbi Yishmael Kohen Gadol, which was a reflection of the shine of the Beit Hamikdash.” We had the greatest beauty when we had the Beit Hamikdash. We lost it all with its destruction. We reflected God’s Presence in the world. We surrendered that beauty when we lost the Temple. It is difficult for us to comprehend that we were physically different when the Temple stood. We were beautiful. The Talmud says that the Romans would ties a Jew to the foot of their bed when making love so that they could have beautiful children. We cannot even conceive that other people would consider us the most beautiful in the world. But when we represented God’s Presence, when we lived with that level of awareness we were literally the most beautiful people on the planet. Chazal taught us that even beauty is important. If we represent God by definition we must be the most beautiful. This is part of what we have lost.
Hosea : “As they were increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.”
Malbim Ibid: “The honor of the priesthood was that God had given them portions of the sacrifices, as members of royalty who sit at the king’s table. This honor was taken away from them.”
When the Kohanim did not act as they should they surrender the honor that God had granted them. We too must be aware of the honor that God has given us in the Torah and His commandments. We must act as royalty. We must speak, dress, eat, think and act as members of God’s royal family. This is true in Jewish law. All the following opinions hold that each Jew must be treated in Jewish law as royalty!
When we forget that we are royalty we too are exchanging our glory for dishonor!
Rashi Ibid: “As they sinned, God sent prophets to rebuke them and they would run away.”