Kinah for Tisha B’Av

Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about!
Woe for all the heads without Tefillin
After 3700 years from Avraham Avinu
After having survived Holocausts and Inquisitions…
Jewish boys and girls blunder
In the darkness that plagues our generation
And go lost by the millions
With visions of isms and instant pleasures
Rapt in utter ignorance
Bathed in a blue light they may never escape
And generations and giant whole families
Holy congregations have disappeared
For nothing!
And their names dead ended
Now only grace lonely stones
In forgotten cemeteries
Bearing words their children
Those that had- Could never read
Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about!

The pervasive angst of isolation!
Microwaves our very beings!
We feel beaten from within.
The continuous waves of psychological pain.
We suffer with a wry smile and a diet coke.
The gnawing insecurity and emptiness.
It brings us to search for things that do not exist.
The sublime is substituted with the virtual.
Pictures and fantasies tickle n’ dissolve like
Cotton candy for the eyes…in a world of lies
Fire works for lonely hearts that only grow lonelier
Noshing on empty calories for an endless soul
And as for the big itch…the really big itch…
That small thin voice is starved…
Portrait of a Holocaust victim!
So we turn up the tempo
Tapping like a blind man
Louder and more frantically
We are lost as never before.
Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about!

The Chutzpah around us and within.
The skirts…the so called “styles”…the pressure to conform
The lewdness …the angry language
Rap -rap -rap….bark -bark –bark!
Bitter and desperate…is the new normal
The almost total loss of respect
Nothing and no one is Holy
The good ones are ridiculed-
The object of derision
For framing a G-dly Image
And dressing as humans do
For keeping the Shabbos Holy
Watching our eyes and tongues!
While pictures of the unthinkable
The pop-ups of our lives
Invade constantly
On every bus that passes by
Our brothers and sisters
Drop like fall leaves
Fewer and fewer hang strong
Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about!

The inmates are running the asylum.
Clouds of chaos gather all around
Bombs are fashioned for our final solution
And we are lost in the mirror again.
Wondering if we are loved or looking good
70 wolves salivate with teeth like daggers
Aimed to devour our tiny flock!
Where are we?
Busy with our cell phones
Texting our way to oblivion
Dealing with emergencies of little import
Consumed by crumb size concerns
Like Chometz…And the size of our noses
Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about!

The Chillul HASHEM
We have lost our luster
Suspicion surrounds us
The Nation of HASHEM
The people of truth
Are ridiculed and considered low
While every sports team and slick politician
Has their stadium…Their edifice their complex
Where their glory is on open display
Where is the place of HASHEM in this world?
Billions speak falsely in His name
Identity theft on the grandest scale
Religion is a rejected and dirty word
We are tagged zealots and bigots
For preserving four cubit of Hallacha
This is our crime
And so we owe the world an apology
HASHEM and we His People
Share all time low approval ratings
For this we truly owe a broken heart
Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about!

What can be done when what’s done is done?
Who can rebuild such a wall torn down?
Our Holy Temple is destroyed!
Echoing in the cosmos
Is a muffled scream!
Of unspeakable abuse
A silent crime!
Against our most beautiful daughters
Made to suffer alone
Scarred in a way
No one can say
With more than broken hearts
Shattered Tablets
And bitter memories
Bleed bad blood
And families crumble
With no happy choices
But to seek greatness
And avoid the pit of insanity
There I said it! Without saying it!
Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about!

Thousands take to the streets
In a moment’s notice
To look for Leiby
The heart …my heart… where’s my heart?
How can we go up to our father and the youth is not with us?
How can we go up to our Father in Heaven
and the innocence and youthfulness is no longer with us?
HASHEM wants the heart! Where’s the heart? A frantic cry!
It’s been stifled, torn asunder in the heart of our hearts!
In the midst of our midst!
Our innocence is ravaged from within!
We cannot even trust ourselves!
A knife is driven repeatedly into our heart again and again
Where is our heart!
Where are our youth?
HASHEM wants the heart!
If not for the watchful eye of…
A camera …random… nothing is!
We could live in the shadows of doubt…
Postulating and philosophizing
So now we are all mourners …
We are done looking outward
The mirrors are covered…enough…enough
We sit low and quiet
Our eyes turned inward…at last…
We hope to find a heart yet beating…there
from where we can build-
…from where can we build
On this day of brutal truth? We have what to cry about!

How did it happen? Where are you?
Unanswerable questions!
Persist in their asking!
Where a person’s mind is…
Says the Ba’al Shem Tov
That is where he is entirely!
So with a single Holy thought!
One of 60,000 a day!
An apple…a golden apple
Is rescued from the thieves
And goodness is restored
When opening our inner eyes
We begin to realize
The ground we are standing upon
Is not less than the Holy of Holies
The shoes are easily removed
A Burning bush…is revealed
We survived! We survived!
Till this historic moment!
You and I together
With a song …the wail of a longing heart…
Brought history and destiny to meet and embrace
As tearful friends reunited!
After thousands of years!
Moshiach is born!
On this special day! We have what to cry about!

Originally Published August 2011

10 comments on “Kinah for Tisha B’Av

  1. To Mr. Cohen #7: So where do we go? Even in Yerushalayim there are Gays living together. So there is no secular marriage in Medinat Yisrael. They go to a country where Gay marriage is performed, marry, and come back to Medinat Yisrael where their legal marriage is recognized. There is no place on Earth to escape this sin.

    We have to listen to our Gedolim. When our Gedolim order us to leave New York State, then we should leave. Until then, I for one am personally going to stay here. I do not see our many Yeshivos Gedolos such as the Peekskill Yeshiva, Nitra Yeshiva, the Mirrer Yeshiva of Brooklyn, Bais HaTalmud, Novominsk, Chofetz Chaim, MTJ or any other of our citadels of Torah joining Bais Medrash Govoha (which was originally in White Plains, New York until it moved to Lakewood, New Jersey) and going westward across the Hudson River to the Garden State.

  2. Our pure kinderlach learning new vocabulary words from their unclad nonJewish “cousins” at mandatory family get-togethers! OY! OY!

  3. I agree with Steve here. There is a modern tendency that could well have been included in this litany of indeed “lamentable” (but not Lamentations-able) conditions: To trivialize profound things, to reduce them to our own frame of reference.

    We have a lot of challenges that Jews in previous generations could never have dreamed of. But unlike most of them, very few of us have to worry if we or those we love will be murdered, or taken captive, or forcibly baptized, or accused of ritual murder. Those who live in this country can enjoy civil rights and material opportunity on a par with any citizen in a manner inconceivable to the majority of Jews who every lived until about a century ago. We can live in the Holy Land, with all the spiritual opportunity that represents.

    Moreover, this proffered bit of keening, which certainly does, again, raise real issues, may be afflicted as well by historicism or perhaps an undue romanticization of the inner lives of our predecessors. This is an easy enough mistake to make, what with the “received” or “Artscroll” version of the saintly, simple shtetl yid of the past, but I am very skeptical of it.

  4. How can we continue to justify living in New York State (NYS), where same-gender “marriages” (G_d save us) are now officially approved by the government?

    Continuing to live here because there are yeshivot and synagogues is like living in Sodom because they have nice yeshivot and synagogues there.

    Rabbis used to say (correctly) that no pious Jew could live in Las Vegas because of the gambling and immorality there. But with same-gender “marriages” officially approved by NYS, living in NYS is worse than living in Las Vegas.

  5. Thank you Rabbi Lam. Although I followed the kinnos on OU with great appreciation, I don’t think any spoke to me as directly as this.

  6. We don’t belong here. Notwithstanding the medina shel chesed, it’s not our home. We live next door to people who hate us, even the nice ones. Oy! This is why we have this period to mourn.

    A frum elementary school child attending public school due to a lack of funds…he plays on the playground happily with the african american kids and tries to be accepted into their games. Oy!

    Our own kids who spend Shabbos afternoon staring out the window at the spanish family’s barbecue across the street, and are entertained by thier antics. Oy!

    Late October bar mitzvahs at the seudah hall, with loads of people hanging out in the lobby or outside, wearing headphones catching the playoff scores. Oy! (And sometimes the bar mitzvah kid wishing he could join them. Oy! Oy!)

    Let’s rip our clothes to shreds…along with all of the other things listed above. This is a reason to mourn deeply, and a valid reason to write such a kinnah.

    This isn’t home, and it really hurts. At least it should.

  7. WADR to the noble intentions of the author, if one looks at the text of the Kinnos and their sources, as one can find in either the ArtScroll, Goldschmidt or Mesoras HaRav edition, the focus is events of a catastrophic nature which led the author to write and ask what happened to HaShem’s protection of His People, and the corresponding Chillul HaShem, and the momentous changes in the world caused by the Churban HaBayis. Some Kinnos focus on the cause of such events. RYBS maintained that Kinnos span the gamut from national, communal and individual sufferering, as a means of showing that Tisha B”Av is a day reserved for mourning and delving into questions such as Tzadik VRah Lo, etc.

    One does not see self-inflicted wounds even of the most grievous nature being the basis of Kinnos, but rather transgressions of a Bein Adam LaMakom and Bein Adam LChavero level by generations that were closer to Sinai but whose transgressions seem beyond our imagination if one studies Tanach carefully.

    IOW, one does not see self inflicted transgressions caused by living in a post Emlightenment society in such Kinnos as Btzesi Mitzrayim, Arzei HaLevanon, Shaalei Srufah, etc. OTOH, the Kinnos that begin with Tzion serve as a means of reminding us of the beauty of the Land of Israel and implanting an awareness of the same and to avoid engaging in either of the two following logical fallacies-we have a sovereign Jewish state and a gorgeous capital in Yerushalayim-so why fast or as long as the Mosque exists and the Medinah is imperfect-don’t talk to me about a sovereign Jewish state and the renaissance of Torah learning and observance since 1948. IMO, both extremes are equally unappealing and inappropriate themes for expression on Tisha B’Av.

    Perhaps, the key might be to delve into the issues that caused the Churban , learning from as a means to avoid the mistakes of the past, as opposed to writing new Kinos, and viewing the hashkafic lessons as a means of stifling discussion on issues of Halacha and Hashkafa.

  8. Thank you Rabbi – I’m very happy you printed this, because I heard you recite it during an online shiur and I actually tried to listen and pause it and copy it down and eventually gave up! Thank you

  9. Why shouldn’t we update kinnos to include our times? Kinnos from the Crusades and the Holocaust were written. I would say this one too. Must have been heart-wrenching to write.

    Lots of writing talent, like in these lines:
    “The inmates are running the asylum”
    “Texting our way to oblivion”
    “There I said it! Without saying it!”

    The only thng that’s missing is making the initial letters say the authors name.

  10. Rabbi Lam,

    Simply the point…so true…..

    May Hashem bless you!

    Marty Fleischer

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