Lamentations: Third Kinah – Second Stanza
“The impoverished”: Based on Isaiah 51:21: “Therefore, listen to this impoverished one, who are drunk, but not with wine.” Yalkut Shimoni, Isaiah #475 “One who is in pain is free from
the obligation to pray just as one who is drunk. We see this from the verse which compares the impoverished to the drunk.”
This is all the more powerful in the context of the Gemara in Eiruvin 65a where the Rabbis want to free all from the judgment on prayer because we are referred to as drunks!
The Rabbis consider us all free to a point from the judgment on prayer because we are so distracted by our suffering as a nation. The Rema, Orach Chaim 101 says that this is so true in our time that: One who prays without proper concentration should not pray again he probably won’t pray with concentration when he repeats his prayer.
After the destruction we lost our closeness with God. We lost our ability to pray with the highest levels of concentration. This happened after the first destruction when we prayed spontaneously with our own words. The Men of the Great Assembly then composed our siddur and formalized prayer. We lost the ability to pray as we were before the destruction. This intensified with the loss of the second Beis Hamikdash.
It is difficult to pray three times each day with the necessary intensity. We have the morning blessings, the sacrifices, Pesukei D’Zimra, Shema and its blessings, the Amidah, Tachanun and all the prayers that follow. Many people don’t have the time let alone the ability to concentrate on everything as they run to work. Services in most synagogues are rushed making it even more difficult to pray properly. We aren’t familiar with most prayers. Even those who try to pray with Kavannah are distracted. People who are familiar with the prayers don’t read with the correct grammar as if they did not understand what they were reading.
It is not only the distraction of our suffering which makes it difficult to pray. The distance from God creates an almost impossible chasm.