UPDATED - after adjusting the text a number of times, this is the adjusted text that indicates what I actually said.
Tisha B’av 5766
In my shul we have a program which has become quite common among anglo communities in Israel. Instead of reading all the kinot published as was commonly done, we select a number of the kinnot to read (a lot of them, but not all of them). Before each kina one of the members will give a brief introduction to the kinna, an explanation, some words of inspiration, etc. The idea is that instead of mindlessly reading a bunck of kinnot that nobody understands, we say less but it is more infused with meaning and understanding.
I was asked to give the introduction to Kinna 23, entitled “V’Es Navvi”. Below I am posting what I plan (more or less to say as the introduction.
In 23 we will be lamenting the story of the children of R’ Yishmael Ben Elisha. The paytan relates the tragic story of how these 2 children, a son and a daughter were captured by separate captors. The captors were bragging to each other about the special beauty each one saw in his respective captive. They came up with a plan to have the two captives mate and they would share the offspring, which they assumed would be tremendously beautiful children.
The paytan goes on to describe how they were put together in a dark room and they stayed apart the whole night ashamed that this is what could come of the child of such a great man. By daybreak they each realized who the other was and they held each other and their nashamos left them together.
Truly a tragic story. Bit it is difficult, at least for me, to relate to a story of a kidnapping from about 2000 years ago and be moved to tears.
If one has a hard time relating to a story from so long ago and crying about it and simply reads it as a tragic story, there is no lack of similar stories from more modern times.
If you must, think about Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who are being held by barbaric captors under who knows what type of conditions. Think of Ron Arad whose daughter never had the opportunity of knowing him because he has been held captive for so long. Think of all the other MIA’s who we have no idea of their whereabouts. Think of their parents who have no idea if their children are alive or dead or what kind of condition they are in. Think of the turmoil these people are going through.
If that is not enough, think of the holocaust. Think of the children who were snatched away from their parents. Think of the families that were separated and decimated and destroyed.
The ArtScroll explains that we are not crying specifically about the capturing of these young adults, rather we are crying about the hillul hashem. We are including this story in the kinnos because they were less concerned with their personal fate and more concerned with the hillul Hashem of their being forced to such degrading acts.
But if you have a hard time crying about a hillul Hashem that took place 2000 years ago, think of the hillul hashem that we have gone through daily, throughout history, since the destruction of the beis hamikdash. All Jews are princes and princesses and we all come from great yichus of Avraham Avinu. Yet the blood of jews, the children of Jews, have been left for hefker for the pillaging of the goyim. We have suffered throughout history bloog libels and progroms and holocausts. Killing and kidnappings. Even to this day.
Think again to the holocaust. Think of all the children who were given refuge and protection by the church, only to never be returned to their families, but to be raised as Christians.
Think of what is perhaps the most famous of uch stories, the story of Edgardo Mortara. Edgardo was a young 6 year old child in Italy in the mid-1800s. he fell ill and was on his deathbed. The families youngle Christian maidservant was concerned the child would die without ever having been saved and he would remained damned for eternity. So she baptised him, without telling the family. Edgardo eventually recovered from his illness, but it did not matter. The church found out about the baptism, and despite it being unauthorized and illegal, he had been baptized. They came and removed him from his parents care. After all, it was illegal for a Jew to raise a Christian child. No amount of pleading and fighting with the church and with the courts was able to bring Edgardo back home to his parents. he later went on and became a Catholic priest.
That is something everybody can relate to. If thinking of children being kidnapped 2000 years ago creating a hillul hashem does not move you to tears, think of the more modern instances of the same events, and that should move you.
As Jews we are all princes and princesses with the great yichus of being children of Abraham. Every tragedy that has befallen us is a tragedy but is also a hillul Hashem. If you cannot cry about the tragedy and hillul Hashem of 2000 years ago, it is all too easy to think about more recent tragedies and let those move you.
The paytan says, - woe Hashem has such decreed, he says and he fullfills his word. אוי כי זאת גזר אומר ועושה . If we do not let these kinnos move us to be inspired to improve our ways, Hashem has promised what will happen, and we should know that He fulfills His word.