Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The sufferings that He causes have a good reason.”

“The general mood of the lamentations is interwoven not only with faith in God and in the rightness of His judgment, but also with a deep and even intimate bond between the mourner and God.

Not only is the Lord always present, but it is possible, and even a privilege, to weep before Him.

The relation to God with all the heartache and suffering is not a relation to the “Judge of the whole earth” or to “King of the World,” but to the “Merciful Father.”

The blows that He distributes are not the blows of wickedness; the sufferings that He causes have a good reason.

But the fact that the judgment is just does not eliminate the pain; the fact that the son receives his suffering without striking back does not diminish the suffering.

Yet the son knows that he is allowed to cry; he knows that he can put his head in the father’s lap, the same father who hit at him, and that he can tell him how much he is suffering.

As described in the many dirges, poems, and prayers of the sages, God Himself weeps over the destruction of the Temple; He Himself suffers and feels the agony of those who are stricken.

Indeed many of these are more specific delineations of the mood of the Book of Lamentations.

And much more than the mourner addresses his countrymen, those who are with him and those who will remember these events in the future; he is really addressing God Himself.

It is not a petition, nor even a protest: it is rather an outpouring of the heart, a weeping on the part of one who knows that the chastising father is suffering his pain along with him.

As in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “And I will wait upon the Lord that hides His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him.” (Isaiah 8:17)

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz