Tuesday, 20 July 2010

How Not to Read Kinnot

If you don't understand 'em you probably missed the point

The kinnot are not magical incantations even according to the most fundamentalist forms of Judaism. So if you have no idea what the hell the kinnot mean then you might as well close your kinnot book and spend your time doing something more worthwhile. Translations are little help because poetry gets lost in translation.

If you don't appreciate 'em you probably missed the point

The kinnot are supposed to be aesthetically pleasing and evocative. If you (like most people nowadays) do not appreciate poetry then you might as well read a holocaust book instead of wasting your time saying repetitive words. No one can force you to appreciate poetry you either do or you don't. The kinnot are clearly aimed at the former.

If you chant 'em you probably missed the point

Its poetry for crying out loud! Say it properly! Anyone who rushes through the kinnot is just being stupid.

If you say all of 'em you probably missed the point

There is no reason to say every kinnah! You choose one or two you like (I recommend Ibn Gabirol's "Shomron"), read it, appreciate it a bit and finish Tisha B'Av services at a reasonable time instead of 12 O'clock or something. Nobody, in most shuls, is even paying attention after the twentieth kinna! Whoever invented the siddur did a great disservice to the Jewish people by making people think that you have to read every word.

So what is the point that you're missing?

I'm not quite sure. If you're a believer then the point is that for some reason or other its a religious duty to feel bad about the destruction of the temple. The kinnot and here is the keyword are a mean to an end not an end themselves. If kinnot fail to be evocative to you then THERE IS NO POINT IN SAYING THEM.

Cummon Orthodoxy be a little creative! Why isn't there a booming industry of Tisha B'Av movies portraying some of our worst tragedies? I'm sure more people would get meaning out of a movie version of The Jewish Revolt than some old Hebrew poems. Where are Tisha B'Av novels and Tisha B'Av plays? Why are we so damn uncreative that the only medium of expression we make use of on this day are poems composed hundreds of years ago! A little variety and creativity!

For the rest of I guess there is little point, except maybe to muse about the long difficult history we Jews lived through and to appreciate the fact that despite it all we managed to not only survive but to thrive!

I for one will be reading Josephus and perhaps sit (on the floor of course!) appreciating some of the better poems in the Tisha B'Av liturgy.

An easy fast everyone!

Edit: My favorite kinna below, (it's so good that it gets said twice in the Tisha B'Av liturgy):

שׁוֹמְרוֹן קוֹל תִּתֵּן מְצָאוּנִי עֲוֹנַי
לְאֶרֶץ אַחֶרֶת יְצָאוּנִי בָנָי
וְאָהֳלִיבָה תִזְעַק נִשְׂרְפוּ אַרְמוֹנָי
וַתֹּאמֶר צִיּוֹן עֲזָבַנִי יְיָ

לֹא לָךְ אָהֳלִיבָה חֲשׁוֹב עָנְיֵךְ כְּעָנְיִי
הֲתַמְשִׁילִי שִׁבְרֵךְ לְשִׁבְרִי וּלְחָלְיִי
אֲנִי אָהֳלָה סוּרָה בָּגַדְתִּי בְקָשְׁיִי
וְקָם עָלַי כַּחְשִׁי וְעָנָה בִי מִרְיִי
וּלְמִקְצָת יָמִים שִׁלַּמְתִּי נִשְׁיִי
וְתִגְלַת פִּלְאֶסֶר אָכַל אֶת פִּרְיִי
חֲמוּדוֹתַי הִפְשִׁיט וְהִצִּיל אֶת עֶדְיִי
וְלַחֲלַח וּלְחָבוֹר נָשָׂא אֶת שִׁבְיִי
דֹּמִּי אָהֳלִיבָה וְאַל תִּבְכִּי כְּבִכְיִי
אֲנִי נַדְתִּי לִרְחוֹק וְדַי לִי זֹאת דַּיִּי
שְׁנוֹתַיִךְ אָרְכוּ וְלֹא אָרְכוּ שָׁנָי

מְשִׁיבָה אָהֳלִיבָה אֲנִי כֵן מָרַדְתִּי
וּבְאַלּוּף נְעוּרַי כְּאָהֳלָה בָּגַדְתִּי
דֹּמִּי אָהֳלָה כִּי יְגוֹנִי פֻקַּדְתִּי
נָדַדְתְּ אַתְּ אַחַת וְרַבּוֹת נָדַדְתִּי
הִנֵּה בְיַד כַּשְׂדִים פַּעֲמַיִם נִלְכַּדְתִּי
וּשְׁבִיָּה עֲנִיָּה לְבָבֶל יָרַדְתִּי
וְנִשְׂרַף הַהֵיכָל אֲשֶׁר בּוֹ נִכְבַּדְתִּי
וּלְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה בְּבָבֶל נִפְקַדְתִּי
וְשַׁבְתִּי לְצִיּוֹן עוֹד וְהֵיכָל יִסַּדְתִּי
גַּם זֹאת הַפַּעַם מְעַט לֹא עָמַדְתִּי
עַד לְקָחַנִי אֱדוֹם וְכִמְעַט אָבַדְתִּי
וְעַל כָּל הָאָרֶץ נָפוֹצוּ הֲמוֹנָי

הַחוֹמֵל עַל דַּל חֲמוֹל עַל דַּלּוּתָם
וּרְאֵה שִׁפְלוּתָם וְאֹרֶךְ גָּלוּתָם
וְרוֹמֵם קַלּוּתָם וְהָקֵל סִבְלוּתָם
רְפָא נָא אֶת שִׁבְרָם וְנַחֵם אֲבֵלוּתָם
כִּי אַתָּה שִׂבְרָם וְאַתָּה אֱיָלוּתָם
חַדֵּשׁ יָמֵינוּ כִּימֵי קַדְמוֹנַי
וְלֹא תֹאמַר צִיּוֹן עֲזָבַנִי יְיָ

9 comments:

gamzoo said...

I've been thinking about what was so terrible about the loss of the temple and I've come to the conclusion that it's not the loss of temple per se that was the tragedy, rather it was the loss of national sovereignty. Had the Jewish people not lost their homeland the laws of the nation probably would have gradually changed over time and we wouldn't have been stuck with these antiquated laws. The Temple represents this because of it's symbolic significance. The destruction of the Sanhedran was the real loss. Although I'm personally glad there is no theocracy in place

G*3 said...

> I've come to the conclusion that it's not the loss of temple per se that was the tragedy, rather it was the loss of national sovereignty

National sovereignty was lost long before the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed. It was an attempt to restore sovereignty that led to its destruction.

That said, you make an interesting point about the effect of the loss of the Sanhedrin.

Baruch Spinoza said...

Shilton: "Anyone who rushes through the kinnot is just being stupid"

Or maybe just being really lazy and wanting to go home as early as possible.

By the way this is what I did for Tisha B'av. 1)I cut my hair and shaved (during the three weeks). 2)I listen to music. 3)I ate today instead of fasting. 4)I drank alchohol. 5)I ate meat during the three weeks. 6)I wore leather. 7)I did not go to shul. 8)Studied mathematics, it bring me happiness, something to be avoided on Tisha B'av. 9)Sat on high seats. 10)And I did some other things today on Tisha B'av that I will not say because you get angry when I bring this kind of topic over and over again. So I had a good Tisha B'av. How was yours? ^.^

"I've been thinking about what was so terrible about the loss of the temple and I've come to the conclusion that it's not the loss of temple per se that was the tragedy, rather it was the loss of national sovereignty.":

What are you talking about? The loss of national sovereignty was great. Did you know what the Sanhedrin was capable of? They could have committed capital punishment for adulterty, picking sticks on Shabbos, and even for making idols. I am happy that they got destroyed. Of course, I do not mean to imply that I am happy that the Jewish people got destroyed, they are people who were innocent here and should have no been killed. And this bring me to my main point. The real tragedy is the Jewish people who were killed. Not that the the Sanhedrin was destroyed, the destruction of the Sanhedrin was progress that came about indirectly.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>The destruction of the Sanhedran was the real loss.

I have faith in the abilities of religions to defy modernity to the bitter end whether or not they are endowed with power to change the laws.

Also a Jewish Pope! (which is what I presume would happen had the Sanhedrin stuck around) ichhhh (It would make a good alternative history novel though)

>Or maybe just being really lazy and wanting to go home as early as possible.

Might as well skip them and save yourself the trouble

>By the way this is what I did for Tisha B'av

Lol thanks for sharing (you missed wearing leather shoes)

>They could have committed capital punishment for adulterty, picking sticks on Shabbos, and even for making idols.

If the Mishna is any guide the Sanhedrin basically decided to stop capital punishment before they were "destroyed". So tip of the hat to the Sanhedrin.

gamzoo said...

Orthodox Judaism of today is largely a product of Christan Europe and shtetl culture. Had the Jewish people not been subjected to that in the first place and kept their land, culture and legal system in it's organic setting, who is to say how would it have evolved. This is basically a point that Rav Kook makes. It's just an interesting thought.

Baruch Spinoza said...

"So tip of the hat to the Sanhedrin.":

Even if they stopped with the capital punishment I am absolutely sure they have done some nasty things. The Catholic Church does not kill people but it is an evil institution which will hopefully be intellectually destroyed one day and exposed for what it really is.

"Orthodox Judaism of today is largely a product of Christan Europe and shtetl culture. Had the Jewish people not been subjected to that in the first place and kept their land, culture and legal system in it's organic setting, who is to say how would it have evolved.":

It would have been evil like the other religions. Remember Judaism is based on a book which says to be tribal, racist, homophobic and sexist. A law system which says to kill the homo, ston the adulterer and other basic sins. Judaism is based on the book which praises the destruction of innocent people in the Amalekites simply for being Amelekites. I can assure you if you had a governing body of Israel which the influence of Christianity or Islam it would also been evil. I am very certain that if the Jews were powerful, rather than the oppressed, they would have been the oppresors themselves. The only reason why Jews are not responsible for oppresion in history was because they were weak to oppress.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Remember the modern western intellectual tradition is based on the works of Aristotle who was sexist, racist, and supported slavery and Plato who believed the perfect government consisted of a Spartan autocracy and heavy censorship.

Almost everything produced in the Ancient World was barbaric by our standards.

Dunno if that makes a difference or not but its worth remembering that the Bible is not really unique in being um... un-modern.

The sign of a good religion is one that manages to transcend the bad parts of its inception. Lucky for us Jews we got rid of (or were force to get rid of) the genocide, and the stoning. Now we got to get rid of the sexism and racism. Bimheira BeYameinu.

Baruch Spinoza said...

"Remember the modern western intellectual tradition is based on the works of Aristotle"

No it is not. Western Europe was Christian tradition for close to two thousand years. The modern western values were largely the result of the Age of Enlightenment, which was superior to whatever there was.

Shilton HaSechel said...

True but I think the "enlighteners" thought of themselves as a continuation of the ideal of an "examined life" a very Socratic Greek concept. Hence the term "renaissance"

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