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21 July 2010


Ay. Ay-ya-yai. Ay-kah!
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow...

A day of weeping and lamentation. A day of fasting and remberance.
Today, millions mourn the loss of the temple in Jerusalem. Tradition has it that the Romans razed the temple on the anniversary of the day the Babylonians ravished the temple so long ago.

On this day Israel's children's children sing the blues, chanting the book of Lamentation in a solemn trope. Lamentations, the very sound of the word (in Hebrew) is a lament: Ay-kah! 
Ay. Ay-ya-yai. Ay-kah!
For these things I weep; my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me, one to revive my courage;
my children are desolate, for the enemy has prevailed.

Zion stretches out her hands,
but there is no one to comfort her;
the Sovereign God has commanded against Jacob
that his neighbors should become his foes;
Jerusalem has become a filthy thing among them.

It is virtually impossible I think, for modern peoples to comprehend the sense of abandonment the Israelites had at the loss of their temple in 567 BCE and again in 70 CE. (And this was after Antiochus desecrated the rebuilt Second Temple in 167 BCE.)

The book of Lamentations is a book of raw anguish. And blame. It is God's fault. But because a just god cannot be blamed; it is the people's fault for provoking God.

The Holy God has become like an enemy and has destroyed Israel;
God has destroyed all its palaces, laid in ruins its strongholds,
    and multiplied in daughter Judah mourning and lamentation.

It was for the sins of her prophets
        and the iniquities of her priests,
    who shed the blood of the righteous in the midst of her.

The text ends with a cautious hopeful plea: Restore us to yourself, Holy One, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old. But one can never be certain of an inscrutable god. The final words: unless you have utterly rejected us, and are angry with us beyond measure. Ay. Ay-ya-yai. Ay-kah!

What temples shall fall in this new age?
What blues shall we sing?

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