Posted on July 17, 2020 by Cantor Risa Wallach
July 17, 2020
25 Tammuz 5780
This Shabbat is one of those traditionally called Mevarechim, a Shabbat on which we recite the blessing for the new month in anticipation of Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the new Hebrew month). The coming Hebrew month is the month of Av. The most mournful day of the Jewish year is observed on Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av.
On Tisha B’Av, Kinot, or songs of mourning sung, elegies, the most famous of ‘which is called Eli Tziyon: the signature melody’ for the month of Av. At the service this Erev Shabbat, I will be singing the melody of Eli Tziyon, to give us the flavor of the Jewish month that is coming, and of the day of sadness that will soon be in our calendar. We will also sing Lecha Dodi to the same melody, a custom that can be taken up during this month, and we will conclude our service with that same melody. Here are some of the verses of this grief-inspired song, bemoaning the destruction of Jerusalem:
Mourn Zion and her cities, like a woman in her birth pains,
And like a maiden wrapped in sack-cloth for the husband of her youth,
Mourn the palace that was abandoned in the sheep’s negligence of its flock,
and for the coming of the revulsion of God within the Temple’s rooms.
For the exile of the servants of God, who sing her songs,
and for their blood that was spilled like the waters of her rivers.
For the chatter of her dancers which was silenced in her cities,
and for the gathering that destroyed and canceled her rabbinic court.
For the periodic sacrifices and redemption of her firstborns,
and for the desecration of the vessels of Temple and the altar of her incense.
At this moment of much uncertainty in the face of a pandemic that has taken lives, and has transformed the way that all of us live on a daily basis, there is much that has been lost, and much that can be mourned. The wisdom of our tradition is to allow us an entire day on which to experience this most appropriate emotion. Other days of our calendar are designated only for joy, for repentance, or for celebration. On Shabbat however, we are forbidden from mourning. In this way, we can know that as the psalmist wrote:
‘Weeping may stay for the night,
But rejoicing comes in the morning.’ -Psalm 30
I look forward to rejoicing with you, as together we bring in the most frequently celebrated festival of all; Shabbat shalom,
Cantor Risa Wallach