As we sat last night to read Eicha again it is impossible to get that pathetic voice out of my head. When I stop to think about it, Eicha has all of the neuroses of Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld with all of the self-deprecation and without any of the humor. If Woody Allen is right, that comedy is tragedy plus time, when it comes to Tisha B’Av thousands of years still seems too soon. Instead of assuming that all of these tragedies befell our people due to our being in the wrong geopolitical place at the wrong time, we attribute it to some divine scheme of reward and punishment. The voice of Eicha ensures that we do not let it go or it blame it away.
A number of years ago I found myself listening to Faint by Linkin Park. In the spirit of the day I encourage you to listen to the lyrics of the song. I think it adds an interesting twist to that voice of Eicha and a modern spin on Tisha B’Av. As absurd as it sounds ( pun intended), this song has helped me reframe many years of theological struggling.
Eicha starts out, “How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!” ( Eicha 1:1) We too are supposed to feel a little bit of loneliness a little bit of disregard. We have the right to have a handful of complaints. But, can we help the fact that everyone can see these scars? Tisha B’Av is a day when our divine punishments are in full view.
We have grown to be comfortable being ourselves with all of our scars, but ultimately what we really want is God’s attention. Tisha B’Av at its core is our dealing with Hester Panim, the temporary Eclipse of God. There are times when God is inexplicably absent from history. As we read: “I will surely hide My face on that day”( Deuteronomy 31:18)
Here is where I find the words and the anger of Linkin Park so liberating. As they sing:
So I let go, watching you, turn your back like you always do
Face away and pretend that I’m not
But I’ll be here ’cause you’re all that I got
I can’t feel the way I did before. Don’t turn your back on me. I won’t be ignored. Time won’t heal this damage anymore. Don’t turn your back on me. I won’t be ignored
Amidst all the screaming, I find it redeeming to find a new voice. Yes, we are hurt, but we are not pathetic. We cannot control the experience of pain, but we can transform the experience of suffering. We are not just taking it. We can demand that we will not be ignored.