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Lamentations: Kinah 1 Line 3

“Turned over” reminds us of the destruction of Sodom and Gemorrah and of the Purim story. It is written of Sodom; as the turning over of Sodom. In the Purim story it says, “ונהפוך הוא”, and everything flipped around.
In the former, the story of Sodom, it is describing how a once great and thriving city was turned from greatness to total destruction. This applies to the destruction of the Temple, the holiest place on earth, a place of greatness, being turned over into a place of total devastation. It refers to the Jewish People as well.  We were turned from being a great power into being slaves and exiles. We cannot fully understand that destruction of Tisha B’Av unless we understand our greatness before the destruction. The Midrash has numerous stories describing our wisdom and wealth. But there is far more to what we possessed when the Beit Hamikdash stood: We lived with the Presence of God. Therefore our actions had far more spiritual impact. We lived with a constant awareness of God. We lived with an ongoing consciousness that each and everything we did, thought or said mattered to the Highest Being. All that has been lost. We had all the wealth and power of Sodom and more. We had a sense of reality. We lived knowing that we could change the world through our actions. Everything we did was with that perception. We experienced power when we prayed, when we studied, when we ate and drank. All that was lost when we lost the Beit Hamikdash
The latter reference, to the story of Purim, is a description of how everything pointed in one direction and God flipped it around to be its opposite. One day the Jews were slated for destruction and Haman ruled. The next day Haman was dead, Mordechai took his place, and the Jews were supreme. The flipping over was the ultimate irony. Haman wanted Mordechai to lead him on the king’s horse through the streets of Shushan shouting out, “Thus shall be done to the man the kings wishes to honor!” Yet, it is he who must lead Mordechai. Haman was hung on the tree he prepared for Mordechai’s hanging. “ונהפוך הוא”means that God can take any circumstances, no matter how dire, and ironically flip them over so that all is good for the Jews and the nations are punished by the very means through which they wanted to hurt God’s People. There was much irony in the destruction of the Temple. This irony is, in fact, one of the themes of this Kinah. God ironically flipped our actions over on us!

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