Lamentations 5
Orthodox Jewish Bible
1 Remember, Hashem, what is come upon us; consider, and behold our reproach.

2 Our nachalah is turned over to zarim, our batim (houses) to foreigners.

3 We are yetomim and fatherless, immoteinu are like almanot.

4 We must pay kesef for our own mayim; our wood is sold unto us.

5 Our necks are under persecution; we are weary, and have no rest.

6 We have submitted to the Mitzrayim, and to the Assyrians, to get enough lechem.

7 Avoteinu have sinned, and are no more; and we have borne their iniquities.

8 Avadim have ruled over us; there is none that doth deliver us out of their yad.

9 We get our lechem with the peril of our lives because of the cherev of the midbar.

10 Our skin was hot like an oven because we burn with ra'av (hunger, famine).

11 They ravished the nashim in Tziyon, and the betulot in the towns of Yehudah.

12 Sarim (princes) are hanged by their yad; the faces of Zekenim were not respected.

13 They took the bochurim to grind, and the ne'arim staggered under the wood.

14 The zekenim have ceased from the sha'ar, the bochurim from their music.

15 The joy of our heart is gone; mekholeinu (our dance) is turned into mourning.

16 The ateret is fallen from our head; woe unto us, for we have sinned!

17 For this our lev is faint; because of these things our eyes are dim.

18 Because of the Har Tziyon, which is desolate, the jackals prowl upon it.

19 Thou, Hashem, remainest forever;Thy throne from generation to generation.

20 Why dost Thou forget us forever, and forsake us for so long?

21 Restore us, Hashem, to Thyself that we may return; renew yamenu (our days) as of old.

22 Unless Thou hast utterly rejected us and Thou art angry with us beyond measure. etc /mahzorD.pdf /mahzorE.pdf /mahzorF.pdf /mahzorG.pdf /mahzorH.pdf /mahzori.pdf /mahzorJ.pdf /mahzorK.pdf /mahzorL.pdf /mahzorM.pdf [T.N. The Book of Kohelet shows us that in the gruesome shadow of death, the whole life of Man is made to seem as so much empty and lonely loitering at the gates of an infinite abyss. There is a word for this emptiness in Hebrew, the word hevel which means empty, unsubstantial, a passing elusive vapor. This is what life is without a personal knowledge of G-d. The author, who calls himself Kohelet "leader of the Assembly,” “Ben Dovid Melech B’Yerushalayim" finds that death has thrown a shroud of gloom and meaninglessness over every kind of work that man does "under the sun.” G-d's work endures (3:14; 7:13), but man's does not. Death sees to that. And therein is the riddle of life. What can dying man gain from all his work (1:3)? What can mortal man achieve from all his labor, in view of his rapidly approaching demise (2:22)? There is a time to die (3:2), but death is life's biggest riddle. What possible gain can workers have from all their life- long toil (3:9), since death causes them in the end to toil "for the wind (5:16)?" A generation comes and goes and expires in death and is forgotten (1:4; 2:16). Death makes all toil "wearisome" and predictably futile. Also, since everything dies, everything is déja vu (disagreeably the same). People of long ago and people yet to come will both alike be forgotten and all their labors will be forgotten because of that great leveler called Death. Death is what makes life at heart such an unhappy business, and there is nothing man can do about this crooked state of dying affairs (1:15). So this life in itself is found wanting, and death is the reason. Many who claim to be Jewish claim that life is wonderful as it is, but these people are not Biblical Jews, any more than that Jewish man Karl Marx was a Biblical Jew with all his philosophizing about the worker's existence "under the sun.” The French philosopher Pascal noticed how we habitually block out the thought of our own coming demise. We do this in order to maintain a fragile sense of mental happiness. Death is an end too incomprehensibly ominous to contemplate. Yet our thoughts keep returning to glower at its reality. And though we try to divert ourselves with continuous activity and company and "unhappy business," we know that each of us must ultimately die alone and see everything we have done unraveled into nothingness. Where can we then find pleasure in anything we do? What in the world, what under the sun, are dying men to do with their meaningless lives? The author makes a test of various activities and pursuits: wisdom, madness, folly, pleasure, laughter, wine, women, song, great building projects, great "life works," great acquisitions, possessions, treasure-collecting; and in the end he finds only emptiness and meaninglessness in all these. Whatever pleasures these things brought him were fleeting indeed. The more wisdom he acquired, the more sorrow he became aware of. The more money he acquired, the more vexation came with it. Death robs all men, because everyone goes to the grave naked and penniless. So what use is money, in the face of death? And since the sage and the fool must both go to the same all-consuming grave, what use is wisdom, in the face of death? The author acquired much wisdom and his wisdom remained with him (2:9), although wisdom can be ephemeral even in this life, in view of senility and the effects of aging, so grimly portrayed in chapter 12. But since man cannot really extend his life or control what happens after his death, all that his wisdom attains for him may fall into the hands of some foolish oblivion as soon as he dies, so, in the final analysis, what good is wisdom? The same fate (death) befalls everyone. No man has an heir he can really trust, since even one's posterity is also subject to death, which can, and eventually will, given sufficient time, play havoc with anyone's legacy. So death destroys life's meaning. Death makes one hate life (2:17). Death makes one hate one's work (2:18). Wise men, for all the work of their minds, are no better than mad men or fools because all alike die. Indeed, man is no better than the beasts who are also subject to the same fate. And man is ignorant! Man doesn't know what G-d has done or will do (3:11). Man doesn't know what will take place after his death. Man doesn't know if his human spirit awaits a fate different than animal extinction (3:20-22). Man needs G-d to give him some answers, because if death completely swallows and obliterates man, then Mankind that G-d created to work and till the ground and have dominion over the animals (Gn 1:26; 2:15) is himself no better than an animal. This is the problem. Death. What is the answer? Is there anything that death cannot obliterate? Yes, the author of Kohelet says. The work of G-d. It endures and death has no dominion over it (3:14). But what is the work of G-d? What does G-d do, in the final analysis? G-d judges everyone, and he has appointed a time to judge the world (3:17). G-d judges the sinner by bringing all things he does into judgment (11:9). The sinner's life is dispensed with not as the sinner pleases but as G-d pleases, and the wages of sin that G-d pleases to dispense is a meaningless death (2:26). But death cannot obliterate this judgment that G-d metes out. Therein is where lies the hope of the resurrection from the dead, which this book questions but does not negate. The author does not merely say, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." In fact he says just the opposite. He says, "I've tried that, and I don't recommend it." G-d will bring everything into judgment (11:9); therefore, fear G-d (5:7). Do not live for this world because this world in itself is meaningless and empty and fallen and dying. Live for G-d and enjoy everything that He gives you as a gift from Him. Otherwise, there is no pleasure in this life. Death is man's lot. To be able to accept this as a fact of life is itself a gift from G-d. G-d is a mystery and creation was created good but it is now fallen (7:29). Man has limits to his wisdom. There is no power in man that will save him from the day of death. All he can say is that death cannot take away the good that the G-d-fearer has. "It will be well with those who fear G-d, because they stand in fear before Him." The author seems to be questioning and looking for something new under the sun (1:9-10), which was what the Moshiach is when he comes walking out of the tomb in his glorious resurrection body. Otherwise, "there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the abode of the dead), to which you are going" (9:10). The righteous and the wise and their deeds are "in the hand of G-d" Who endures and Whose judgment not even death can thwart. This is the assurance of wisdom that makes the resurrection of the dead the vibrant hope and the only answer to the riddle that death poses to the author of this book. Philosophers like David Hume may say that they are not afraid to die, but put a pistol to their breasts, then threaten to kill them, and see (with Boswell and Johnson) how the wisest philosopher will behave. The illusions of genteel philosophy will not help us face the rude indignities of death when they brutally rap at the door. The problem of evil as it churns bitterly around in our minds often tempts us to doubt the existence of G-d, especially a G-d who is safely removed from both suffering and death and waits austerely in heaven to judge us [but this is not the G-d of the Bible, the G-d in Moshiach, the G-d who as Immanu-El suffers with us in this world]. But if we think of death's inescapableness, where do we have to go with the guilt of our moral failures as our years quickly arraign us into the courts of the inevitable graveyard? Facing the universal evil of the human condition and the absurd, meaningless, sniper fire of death picking off everyone around us, we begin to feel a deep inner unhappiness and anxiety. We ask ourselves, what is lurking at the bottom of our fears—is it not the fear of death? Yet the English philosopher Hobbes once wrote, "G-d, that could give life to a piece of clay, hath the same power to give life again to a dead man, and renew his inanimate and rotten carcass into a glorious, spiritual and immortal body." This very point is what separates the religion of the Jews from that of Homer, for the Greek g-ds could not revive the dead. They were not truly omnipotent. But omnipotence is precisely the claim of the G-d of the Bible, Whose Hebrew prophets even predicted the Moshiach’s coming victory over death. The prophets said that the coming Moshiach would be an eternal kohen and his death would be a momentous "ah-sham" guilt offering for sin (see Psalm 110:4; Isaiah 53:10). Further, these Hebrew prophets predicted that after the Moshiach offered himself as an offering for sin he would see the light of resurrection life (see Isaiah 52:13-53:12 in the Dead Sea Scrolls).]

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.

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