There have been many tragedies in thehistory of the Jewish people. From Egyptto Hitler, there have been many times inour history where God seems to beAWOL.
Is God involved in tragedy? There are times when horrible things happen to innocent people and we ask the age old question “how could God let this happen?”The answer might be found in MigilatEicha
Eicha Chapter 1• The narrator illustrates the hardships and destruction that God has brought uponHis own house• He calls out to the Lord almost as if to say “look what You did!”• It seems like the first step after tragedy is to blame God.• “Hashem has afflicted me on the day of his burning wrath” (1:12)
Eicha Chapter 2• The second step is ANGER!!!• The narrator turns God into a destructive force• Here the narrator continues to blame God and focuses on God’s wrath (taken out on the Jews)• “He did not remember His footstool on the day of His wrath” (2:1)
Eicha Chapter 3• The third step is self pity• The narratoris reflecting on his current position• He talks about how far he has fallen and how the entire world is out to get him• At the end of the perek, he screamsat God and says “You have seen the injustices I have suffered…”• “I have become a laughing stock to all my people” (3:5)• He then asks God to redirect His wrath towardsthe Jew’senemies (seems to be redirecting the blame off of God)• “pay them *the enemies+ back their due, Hashem, as they have done” (3:64)
Chapter 4• The chapter begins by giving a overall summery• A lot of repetition from previous chapters – “Hashem vented his fury, He poured out His burning anger” (4:11) – “Hashem has afflicted me on the day of His burning wrath” (1:12) At the end of chapter 4, the narrator says that this kind of tragedy will NOT occur again “He will not exile you again” (4:22) (ironic because the entire chapter was filled with repetition)
Chapter 5• In the fifth chapter, the narrator starts out with another summery.• This is his final plea to Hashem for a better life.• He recalls the past and begs Hashem to return us to that state – “bring us back to you Hashem and we shall return, renew our days of old” (5:21) The narrator signs off in an ambiguous way: He says “for even if you had utterly rejected us, you have already raged sufficiently against us”
The take home messageAt the end of the Eicha the narrator tells God to lay of with the punishment because he has already raged sufficiently. This seems contrary to the penultimate pasuk of “hashiveinu”. I would say that the narrator is trying to come to an agreement with god. The narrator is saying “we want to come back and we want to stop fighting with you but we need you to take the first step and return to us.
Its is clear from Migilat Eichathat God wreaked havoc onthe Jews. However it is alsoevident that God was presentand did not simply disappear.He might have left, but it was not theabandonment that we originally accused God of. The narrator tells us that the punishments we received came from God. He also seemed to confide in God at certain points in the megilla. I think that the narrator is sending us a message. He is saying that God is responsible for the evil and the tragedy in the world and it’s ok to get angry at Him if something horrible happens that you don’t understand, but in the end, whatever that means, God is really on our side and if we go back to him, he will return the favor.