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Haaros

Parshas Devorim 5759

Outline Vol. 3, # 29

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein


Tisha B'av is the day of great mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem.

On Tisha B'av, the mournful Eicha (Lamentations of Yirmiyahu) is read aloud. Eicha is one of the five Megilos (scrolls), which include Esther and Shir Hashirim (the Song of Songs).

There are a variety of opinions regarding the public reading of these Megilos. The Taz held the view that a brocha must not be said before any of the Megilos, except for Esther. There is a view that, if read from a klaf (parchment, rather than a printed book), a brocha may be said. On the other hand, others, such as the Vilna Gaon, held the opinion that each of the Megilos require a brocha, even if read from a printed Hebrew text.

The Scribes

After arguing that a brocha must be said, the author of Levush was disturbed: Why is it that many sofrim (scribes) do not trouble themselves to write Eicha properly, on klaf? Since a brocha is to be said, it would certainly be proper to have a klaf available.

The Levush answered: The sofrim do not wish to make it seem as if they have given up on the thought of redemption. Writing a Hebrew scroll, of course, takes time and preparation; the sofrim would rather not prepare well in advance for Tisha B'av, but be hopeful for the redemption. (Simon 559)

Shehechiyanu

Since Megilas Esther is read with an additional brocha -- the Shehechiyanu -- an additional question comes up: According to those who make the brocha before each of the Megilos, should Shehechiyanu be recited as well? The Vilna Gaon, for one, said yes. However, in regard to Eicha, since Shehechiyanu is recited as a blessing of thanks -- it would not be justified to utter thanks at such a somber time as Tisha B'av. (The view of Ramban is quoted as saying that the brocha affirming Hashem's justice, "Dayan Ha'emes," is read along with the brocha for Megilas Eicha. [Hamoadim Bahalacha, from Toras Ha'adom; this is not the practice today.])

What about in the future era? Will Eicha still be recited? Will Shehechiyanu replace "Dayan Ha'emes"? In Tractate Berachos, the Rabbis had, by tradition, a different reading of a verse. Where the prophet said, "She has fallen, and cannot get up anymore," the Rabbis read: "She has fallen, but no more -- Arise!" In similar manner, Kedushas Levi showed how each of the verses of Eicha could be read in a positive manner. If one could read Eicha with joy and gratitude, Shehechiyanu would be recited -- as it shall be in the era of redemption. (See Ta'amei Haminhagim, p. 288)

Recently, we were asked how one could prepare for Eicha -- would it not seem as if one had given up on the thought of redemption? This train of thought comes from the Levush, mentioned above. However, it is clear that the Levush does not truly hold this point of view. He was merely trying to find some justification for the custom of sofrim not to write the book of Eicha on parchment. However, the Levush himself was of the opinion that the reading of Eicha was of such importance that it required a brocha, just like Megilas Esther. Properly, according to the Levush, Eicha would certainly be written on klaf.

It appears to be a mitzva to write Eicha on parchment, and to read it properly on Tisha B'av. Instead of preparing for the mournful time of Tisha B'av, we could have in mind the joyous reading that will take place sometime, replete with the Shehechiyanu brocha of thanks!


Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156
E-mail: yaakovb@torah.org

Good Shabbos!


Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



 


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