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 lot of kinnot that many do not understand, 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 Kina 21 we just lamented about the Asara harugei Malchus. There we read about R' Yishmael Ben Elisha, one of the great Kohanim Gedolim. We read about his horrific death at the hands of the Roman conquerors.
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.
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 crying because the children of R' Yishmael Ben Elisha, who the gemara relates regarding him that Hashem even asked him for a blessing, who come from such purity and yichus, were debased and defiled in this manner. That is a hillul hashem.
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. 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.
But the kina ends off in the morning. In the morning they saw each other and were saved from the defilement and debasement that had been planned for them. Together they died being mekadesh shem shamayim. That is the g'vurah of the Jew. Despite our being hefker in the eyes of the goyim, they are not able to destroy our humanity, our moral purity. They cannot take away our tzelem Elokim. We are still people and we are still Jews. Despite our suffering, we will not give up our morals.
אוי כי זאת גזר אומר ועושה