Lamentations: First Kinah – Lines 23-24 Part Three
“Leaders were hanged by their hand because they plundered and robbed the loot of the poor.” Yechezkail : “The word of the Lord came to me: O mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to them: To the shepherds: Thus said the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel, who have been tending yourselves! Is it not the flock that the shepherds ought to tend, you partake of the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, and you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not tend the flock. You have not sustained the weak, healed the sick, or bandaged the injured; you have not brought back the strayed, or looked for the lost; but you have driven them with harsh rigor, and they have been scattered for want of for want of anyone to tend them; scattered, they have become prey for every wild beast. My sheep stray through all the mountains and over every lofty hill; My flock scattered all over the face of the earth, with none to take thought of them and none to seek them. Hear then, O shepherds, the word of the Lord! As I live-declares the Lord God; Because My flock has been a spoil, My flock has been a prey for all the wild beasts for want of anyone to tend them since My shepherds have not taken thought of My flock, for the shepherds tended themselves instead of tending the flock- hear indeed O shepherds, the word of the Lord: Thus said the Lord God: I am going to deal with the shepherds! I will demand a reckoning of them for My flock, and I will dismiss them from tending the flock. The shepherds shall not tend themselves anymore; for I will rescue My flock from their mouths and it shall not be their prey.
Rav Dr. Joseph Breuer : “Nothing escapes the attention of a good shepherd. Each and every member of the flock entrusted to his care can look to him for help. He knows how to seek out those who have gone astray and to guide them back onto the right path. He does not give up searching for those who seem to be lost beyond recall. But the shepherds of the Jewish people in the days of Ezekiel owed no such dedication to their calling.” “Betrayed by those whom they had regarded as their shepherds, the people were like sheep roaming the world without a leader to guide them. Once they are dispersed they fall easy prey to their enemies.”
The words of the prophet apply no less to our generation than they did to his. Indeed, as the Gemara says; “any prophecy that is written is for all generations.” God demands that the shepherds in every generation care for each and every sheep in God’s flock. God does not accept that there are sheep that are lost from the flock. God holds the shepherds responsible to seek out all the lost sheep and restore them to the fold.
As long as we have children who are not accepted into schools because they don’t fit the mold we will lose sheep. The shepherds will be held accountable.
As long as there are students who feel that what they are learning is irrelevant and therefore cease studying the shepherds will be held accountable.
As long as there are students who do not feel success in their studies and leave the fold in frustration, the shepherds will be held accountable.
As long as there are Jews who have questions that are not being addressed and therefore distance themselves from the community, the shepherds will be held accountable.
As long as there are Jews who are lost without anyone seeking them out, the shepherds will be held accountable. As long as there are Jews who feel that the leaders are not speaking to them in meaningful terms, the shepherds will be held accountable.
As long as there is one sheep that is lost because of lack of attention, the shepherds will be held accountable. The “poor” in our generation are being robbed! Those families that have nowhere to turn because they have a problem child are vulnerable.
Those who are lost because they have unanswered questions.
Those who feel no connection to the Jewish community.
The kids who have fallen for the attractions of the world; sex, drugs and rock and roll. The families overwhelmed with problems with their children, with their daily lives, with the frustrations that come with too much pressure on the wives and mothers.
These are the poor of our times. The shepherds who turn away from their problems are the same as the shepherds in Yechezkail’s prophecy!
As long as there are Jews who feel that they are being preached at rather than spoken to the shepherds will continue to lose their flock. If the shepherds are simply more and more stringent instead of guiding a generation beset by challenges they are “driving them with harsh rigor.” If the shepherds are insisting on their position of authority rather than caring for the flock they have fallen as far as the shepherds in Yechezkail’s prophecy.