We sit on the floor while listening to Megillat Eichah. The shul’s light are dimmed. The prayers are mournful. The Parochet on the Aron Kodesh is missing. Friends do not greet one another. It is the darkest and saddest night of the Jewish year.
In the middle of the middle chapter of Eichah we are taken aback by the strange, tone-breaking verses which seem to fit much better in Shirat Hayam or Hallel (Tehillim 113-118).
“Hashem’s kindness surely has not ended, nor are His mercies exhausted. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! ‘Hashem is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in him.’” (3:22-24)
The Temples are burning, hundreds of thousands – certainly millions of Jews die this night, we are exiled from Jerusalem, we exile ourselves from Gaza and we praise Hashem for His unending kindness? These are appropriate psukim for a house of mourning?
Rav Yehuda Leib Ashlag ZT”L teaches a most basic theological concept which guides us to an understanding of these mysterious verses in Eichah.
Hashem is “Hatov Hamuchat” the essence of Goodness. “Tov Hashem L’kol.” (Tehillim 145) Hashem is Good to all (always, not half of the time). “Taste and see that Hashem is Good.” (Tehillim 34:9)
Hashem is the definition of goodness. God is the source of everything (even in our lowly world.) As such, everything, the totality of reality, must be good – absolutely.
How can death, tragedy, destruction, “the Holocaust,” be considered to be Good?
Later on in Tisha Ba’av, at Mincha, we read the words of Yishayahu. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways – the word of Hashem.” (55:8)
Yes, subjectively, termed as “your thoughts,” there is evil and bad in the world. The Torah even describes tragedy, sin and destruction on this subjective wave-length. However, objectively, termed as “My thoughts,” there is no bad. The Goodness of God is absolute. While many times it is beyond our understanding and it will be so until we reach another realm, Tov Hashem L’kol. A Jew must be both faithful and humble to be able to accept the jump from the subjective, perceived world to the objective, true reality. It is a life-time of hard work.
On the darkest night of Tisha B’av when the external reality cannot be any more painful and horrific, we publicly state from the heart of Eichah for all to hear, “Hashem’s kindness surely has not ended, nor are His mercies exhausted. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! ‘Hashem is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in him.’”