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Lamentations: First Kinah – Lines 31-32 Part Two

“Gone is the joy of our hearts because the festival pilgrimage has been discontinued.” They needed the Sanhedrin even if they were unified. The nation needed direction even if they were working together. Organized religion can often stagnate. People do the same things, recite the same prayers, and perform the same duties over and over until all seems standardized rather than unlimited as should a relationship with God. The role of the Sanhedrin was to revitalize the people constantly and to prevent stagnation. The Sanhedrin pushed the people to ever greater heights and smashed their self-imposed limitations.

When we lost the Sanhedrin we lost our joy. We, who have so many laws, who are so religiously structured, are highly vulnerable to the problems of organized religion. It is simple for everything to become habit; to pray three times a day without thinking, to lose any sense of what is special about Shabbat, to forget the meaning latent in the Mitzvoth we observe. We quickly forget the powerful messages of each detail of our religious lives. We have lost the joy in our spiritual lives because we have lost its meaning. We no longer have a Sanhedrin. We have a fractured leadership imposing strictures without providing a sense of meaning and joy.

Psalms 119:54: “Your laws are songs for me wherever I may dwell.” Malbim “Even when I was homeless and chased for my life I would study Torah with song and joy.” Torah must be studied with joy and singing. Are we providing that sense of joy to our students? Do they feel like singing from happiness when they study? If not, we are failing them.
Pesikta Rabbasi 1:2: “My soul thirsts for God, when can I come and see the face of the Lord.” ‘Master of the Universe, when will You restore the honor that was ours when we were able to go up to Jerusalem three times a year and see the face of the Divine Presence?”

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