Notes on Kinah 9 apropos to Parshas Bechukosai as well
This Kinah takes a look at parshas Bechukosai, where Hashem tells us the wonderful idyllic rewards for keeping His mitzvos and walking in His ways, and chas veshalom the punishments that will befall the Jewish people if we ‘are disgusted with His commandments and stray.
There may be a tendency to not take these seriously. If I don’t wear shatnez there will be peace in the Middle East? Really? And if I ignore some of the commandments, if I don’t cherish my relationship with Hashem then we will (temporarily) lose our rights to being the chosen people, Hashem will turn a blind eye to us?
Here the mekonen, step by step, takes us through the blessings, and shows how they were reversed, and how all the tochachah and curses of Bechukosai came to be. The words of the Chumash came alive, in a very horrible and tragic way.
The kinah is ‘spoken’ alternatively by God, the Jews, and the enemies of the Jews. Hashem speaks and reminds us of the covenant we have with Him, and how we have brought the tzuros unto ourselves. Israel laments, and the enemies says that yes – true Hashem used to be your protector, but now he has turned against you and abandoned you because of your sins.
We have to realize that Jews enjoy a very close and special relationship with Hashem, and along with the perks of being G-ds chosen people, we are held to a higher standard as well. We bear responsibility for our actions, and suffer the consequences of our missteps.
Last night, in the very first kinah of Tisha B’Av, as well as in Kinah 10, the kinah gives us a clear tit for tat for our actions. Each tragedy happened for a specific cause. Although its not for us to be specific, the general principle of responsibility is one that must be held dear.
There is a tremendous upside to this as well. Shmuel Hanavi, after crowning Shaul as king, said to the Jewish People: “I don’t understand you! Until now you had a very wonderful close relationship to Hashem. When you were close to Him and prayed to Him He took care of you. When you strayed and forgot about Him you were attacked by your enemies and you remembered Him. Why would you want to put a king between you and Hashem?” It’s a beautiful special thing to have closeness with Hashem and something we should cherish, but comes along with a responsibility as well.
I think there is also a deeper point here. Rashi explains that the parsha of Bechukosai is referring to the obligation to toil in Torah. When we are involved in Torah study everything goes right for us, we are close to Hashem and He takes care of us. If we say that c”v its archaic, who needs it and mai ahani li rabanan that brings the kelalos upon us. Indeed the Gemara in Yoma tells us that that the chachamim were in a quandary as to the reason for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash until it was revealed to them that it was for not making Birkas HaTorah. Rav Michel Birnbaum explains that this is more than a bracha, its our showing appreciation to Torah, recognizing the very dominant role Torah study must play in our life, and feeling and expressing our appreciation to HKBH for giving us this wonderful gift (as is evidenced by the din that Birkas Hatorah can be replaced by ahavah rabbah).
We lost the blessings and received the tochachah due to our lack of respect for Torah. The medrash in Eicha says Halevai they would have forsaken me and protected the Torah, the light within it would have returned them to good. We need, and must recognize within our own lives the need, for the light of Torah to be our guide and our inspiration, and then as the Kinah concludes in the prayer Hashem will dispose of Edom and rejuvenate our relationship and the blessings that come along with it.