Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eichah: chiyuv of kri'ah and/or chiyuv of kinah?

Masechet Sofrim 18:4 writes that the reading of Eichah was accompanied by targum so that everyone would understand what was being read, even women and children, as women are obligated in reading the megillah just as men are.  In the new Dirshu Mishna Berura I saw they quote a number of Achronim who struggle to understand why women are obligated in kri'as Eichah.  B'shlama by Purim we have a special chiddush of "af heim ha'yu b'oso ha'nes," that since women we the cause of the miracle or involved in the miracle (machlokes Rishonim) they are obligated in the megillah, but nowhere do we find such a chiddush by other megillos.  Furthermore, I would ask why the Mes Sofrim couples this din with the idea of reading the targum along with the text.  Is there a din that if you don't understand kri'as haTorah, for example, that you are not yotzei?  Why here does the Mes Sofrim make special mention of the need for targum?

A few years ago I suggested (based on a question raised by R' Joshua Maroof) that reciting Eichah is not only a mitzvah of kri'ah, like we find by Esther and kri'as haTorah, but the reading is also a kiyum of kinah as well.  This is why the ba'al koreh sits on the floor while reading, even though kri'ah is normally done standing, as the sugyos in Megillah tell us, and this is why the main reading of Eichah is at night, when mourning is at its most intense, unlike other mitzvos of kri'ah which all take place during the day (see Ran in Megillah regarding Meg Esther).  I would like to suggest that the chiyuv of women to hear Eichah is not a din in kri'ah per se, but stems from their chiyuv to mourn for Yerushalayim and is part of the kiyum of kinah.  This explains why targum, understanding what you are saying, is integral to the mitzvah.  It may not be necessary to understand kri'as haTorah to be yotzei, but if the reading is a kiyum is aveilus and kinah, one can only mourn if one understands what one is mourning for.  Simply reciting empty words does not accomplish anything.  (The MG"A generalizes from this Mes. Sofrim and uses it as a basis to suggest women have an obligation to hear kri'as haTorah on Shabbos.  According to the approach I am suggesting the two mitzvos are not related.  The poskim do not generally accept that view of the MG"A.)


  1. Good vort! Yasher Koach

  2. I also think this M'Haleich is correct. I also saw a similar idea here:

  3. The lomdus of eicha as kinah is appealing and feels correct in itself. But I just wonder if it really explains the language of Maseches Sofrim, which says women are obligated in "kri'as sefer", and later on in the same halacha specifically talks about targum on shabbos for the sake of women and children. Presumably this is why MG"A generalized it. It's possible that other poskim disagree with MG"A's generalization simply because they hold Maseches Sofrim did not literally mean an actual chiyuv for women, rather just a level of fulfillment (and therefore targum is worthwhile), but they might agree there is nothing special about Eicha. (I saw someone say that the Aruch HaShulchan takes that view.)