Monday, July 27, 2009

meshech chochma on the lesson of the ayal

The gemara (Shabbos 119) explains the pasuk in Eichah (1:6) which compares the leaders of the Jewish people to "ayalim (antelopes) without a place to graze" as a hint to one of the causes for the churban. The gemara says that Yerushalayim was destroyed because of the lack of rebuke given for wrongdoing -- just as each ayal travels with "its head in back of the tail of the next ayal" in sequence, so too, there was a "see no evil" attitude in Yerushalayim which caused a blind-eye to be turned toward corruption and prevented anyone from rocking the boat with rebuke.

The Meshech Chochma (P' Devarim) adds an additional insight to this analogy. Tochacha need not come from Rabbis and leaders -- it can come from observing a simple fellow Jew. When you see the poor person who is scrupulously honest in his business dealings even at the cost of financial gain, or the shadchan who is meticulous not to speak lashon hara, or the person burdened with personal responsibility who still takes time to learn -- these are opportunities to learn from the example shown and should inspire a person to improve his/her own behavior.
However, when your "head faces the tail of the ayal" in front of you, if all you see is the negative and poor behavior of others, the bottom rung of their actions instead of what is great and inspirational, then there is very little reason to try to improve.

Unfortunately, we are surrounded with tales of the "tails" of Jewish behavior. It's up to us to not be like the ayal and to look for role models of greatness.


  1. Interesting food for thought - a hakira that came up in discussion today upon which I was hoping to solicit your opinion:

    If someone reads Eikha b'tsibbur from a qelaf, and recited the berakha in accordance with the custom of the Vilna Gaon, should he stand or sit during the reading?

    It seemed to me that the question is whether we look at the performance itself, which is an act of qeriyat ketuvim and should ostensibly be done standing mipnei kevod hatsibur, or do we consider the qiyum of the performance, which is qinah and thus should be done sitting on the ground?

  2. The very fact that you are using a kelaf and reciting a bracha of mikra megilah would seem to indicate that there is a formal kiyum of keri'ah, no?

  3. Forget my sevara -- it's mefurash in Masechet Sofrim (ch. 18): *omeid* v'rosho mefulash b'afar u'begadav mefulashin v'korei b'bechiya v'yelala.

    Interestingly, the Shu"T Rama #35 (which I found through R' Zevin's Moadim b'Halacha) singles out Eichah as deserving of a bracha because "sham ha'chazan korei l'hashmiya hatzibur v'havei k'mo kerias megilah" and the reading of Eicha is hinted at in the end of Mes. Ta'anis as opposed to the other megilot which have no Talmudic source for their being read.

  4. I retract what I wrote -- I davened last night at a Beis Medrash that reads from klaf and they said a bracha (as per the GR"A). After the bracha the ba'al koreh sat down on the side of the bimah and read Eichah.
    I'm not sure why they did it that way or if there is a makor, but ma'aseh rav (esp. in a yeshiva olam) is better than my sevaros.