The Ripped Coat-Kinah 4
Rabbi Chaninah bar Papah began his lecture on Lamentations with the verse, “As one who removes his garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon natron, so is one who sings songs upon a sorrowful heart (Proverbs 25:20).” Rabbi Chaninah and Rabbi Yochanan both say, “What did the Ten Tribes and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin resemble? Two men who were both wrapped in the same new coat on a winter’s day; one pulled one way and on polled the other way until they ripped it. Similarly the Ten Tribes did not cease worshiping idols in Samaria and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were shipping them in Jerusalem, Jerusalem to be destroyed until they caused Jerusalem to be destroyed. (Midrash Eichah-Introduction XII Part 1).
Both rabbis are comparing Jerusalem to the coat a person wears in the winter to protect him from the cold. Neither the Ten Tribes, nor the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, appreciated the protection that Jerusalem afforded them. Both nations were focused on ripping off their coat; both wanted to shed Jerusalem and all it represented. Little did they realize that by losing Jerusalem they were losing their protection.
The analogy describes two men sharing the same coat. We can assume that these men were too poor to afford their own coats. Poor and vulnerable, there shared code was so uncomfortable that they were willing to rip it off despite the cold winter. Each pulled at the coat forgetting that the coat was shared. The men are so close, wearing the same garment, both experiencing the same discomfort, both so bothered by, let’s imagine the itch of the material, so similar to each other, and yet, in their discomfort, each forgets that the garment will be torn unless they work together.
We are not simply describing people who forgot that Jerusalem afforded protection. We are discussing people who are incredibly similar to each other, people who share their experiences, people battling this same issues even while sharing the same coat so to speak, and yet in their rejection of the coat, they forget each other. People who shared so much, were so bothered by what Jerusalem represented, and how they experienced living in the presence of Jerusalem that they ceased to connect to each other.
Perhaps it was this break between people who shared so much that was the true cause of the loss of the protection of Jerusalem.
When we read Kinah #4 on Tisha b’Av night and speak of the debate between the Ten Tribes and Jerusalem, we are describing people who were so lost and uncomfortable and were so focused on shedding the demands of living with a Jerusalem, that they ceased to connect to each other.
We can have numerous people who share many of the same concerns, and yet when deciding how to respond to these concerns, each party is so focused on their approach that they forget the connection they share with others who are taking a different approach. When one party says, “The Internet is evil. It must be rejected!” And they determine that anyone who chooses a different approach must not share the same concerns, they too, are ripping away at the coat that all of us wraps to gather. It is the ripping of the coat, the forgetting that although we approach our problems in different ways we still share the same quote, that causes us to forfeit the protection of Jerusalem.
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