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Lamentations: First Kinah – Lines 27-28 Part One

“Young men bear the millstone, because they were found in the harlot’s house.” Eichah Rabbah 5:13: “You find that there were no mills in Babylon; and when Nebuchadnezzar came up against the land of Israel he made the inhabitants carry mills and bring them down to Babylon.

Another interpretation is to regard it as a euphemistic expression as in the phrase, ‘And he (Samson) did grind in the prison house.’ (Judges 16:21) According to TB Sotah 10a “grind” means nothing else than sexual intercourse. Just as men would bring their wives to the prison to sleep with Samson because of his great strength, women would be sent to the prisons to spend the night with the Jewish prisoners because of their great beauty.

According to the first part of the Midrash, that they were forced to carry millstones, a response to adultery? If we understand adultery as we did earlier to refer to worship of other powers we can begin to understand the Midrash;

Often we turn to other powers, or directions other than God, because we experience our faith as a heavy burden.  We definitely saw this in the generations of Jews in the Twentieth Century who turned away from their faith because they t that the observance of Mitzvot was nothing other than a heavy burden. They felt that demands were made and that they gained nothing from their observance. If we teach the commandments without stressing what is to be gained from their observance we are imposing a weight on our children’s shoulders. We must teach the Mitzvot with a sense of what is to be gained from them. We cannot teach in vague terms such as “we are fulfilling God’s Will.”

We have to teach how each Mitzvah helps us develop as human beings and actually makes us more independent. We are placing millstones on the shoulders of our children when we fail to teach the relevancy of each Mitzvah to our daily lives.

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