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Lamentations: Kinah 31: Egypt & Jerusalem

A fire of elation burns within me, when I recall in my heart what happened
when I went forth from Egypt.

But I shall arouse lamentations, so that I’ll remember what occurred
when I went forth from Jerusalem.

This Kinah compares and contrast the great joy and celebration that were ours when we left Egypt to the crying and devastation we experienced when we were forced from Jerusalem.

It is more than just comparison and contrast: We see the seeds of each in the other; the hints of sadness even as we left Egypt in miraculous redemption, and the buds of hope even as we were driven from a smoldering Jerusalem.

There are numerous teachings in the Talmud that speak of the very fine line that exists between good and evil, life and death, joy and mourning:

A certain caravan merchant once said to Rabbah bar bar Channah, “Come, I will show you the place where the heaven and earth touch so closely it appears that they are kissing.” Bava Batra 74a

The sun is red at sunrise because it passes by the roses of the Garden of Eden, and at sunset because it passes by the gate of Hell. Bava Batra 84a

One of the Torah-Masters taught:
The day Rabbi Akiva died, Rabbi Yehudah the Prince was born.
When Rabbi Yehudah the Prince died, Rav yehudah was born.
When Rav Yehudah was died, Rava was born.
When Rava died, Rav Ashi was born, which indicates that no Righteous Person dies until a similar one is created, as the verse shows, “The sun rises, and the sun sets,” (Ecclesiastes 1:5) Kiddushin 72b

This is why Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, is also a Mo’ed, a Festival. This Kinah challenges us to discover the promise of a joyous future even as we mourn.

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