Tisha B'av is the day of great mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem.
On Tisha B'av, the mournful Eicha (Lamentations of Yirmiyahu) is read
aloud. Eicha is one of the five Megilos (scrolls), which include Esther and
Shir Hashirim (the Song of Songs).
There are a variety of opinions regarding the public reading of these
Megilos. The Taz held the view that a brocha must not be said before any
of the Megilos, except for Esther. There is a view that, if read from a
klaf (parchment, rather than a printed book), a brocha may be said. On the
other hand, others, such as the Vilna Gaon, held the opinion that each of
the Megilos require a brocha, even if read from a printed Hebrew text.
After arguing that a brocha must be said, the author of Levush was
disturbed: Why is it that many sofrim (scribes) do not trouble themselves
to write Eicha properly, on klaf? Since a brocha is to be said, it would
certainly be proper to have a klaf available.
The Levush answered: The sofrim do not wish to make it seem as if they have
given up on the thought of redemption. Writing a Hebrew scroll, of
course, takes time and preparation; the sofrim would rather not prepare
well in advance for Tisha B'av, but be hopeful for the redemption. (Simon 559)
Since Megilas Esther is read with an additional brocha -- the Shehechiyanu
-- an additional question comes up: According to those who make the brocha
before each of the Megilos, should Shehechiyanu be recited as well? The
Vilna Gaon, for one, said yes. However, in regard to Eicha, since
Shehechiyanu is recited as a blessing of thanks -- it would not be
justified to utter thanks at such a somber time as Tisha B'av. (The view
of Ramban is quoted as saying that the brocha affirming Hashem's justice,
"Dayan Ha'emes," is read along with the brocha for Megilas
Eicha. [Hamoadim Bahalacha, from Toras Ha'adom; this is not the practice
What about in the future era? Will Eicha still be recited? Will
Shehechiyanu replace "Dayan Ha'emes"? In Tractate Berachos, the Rabbis
had, by tradition, a different reading of a verse. Where the prophet said,
"She has fallen, and cannot get up anymore," the Rabbis read: "She has
fallen, but no more -- Arise!" In similar manner, Kedushas Levi showed how
each of the verses of Eicha could be read in a positive manner. If one
could read Eicha with joy and gratitude, Shehechiyanu would be recited --
as it shall be in the era of redemption. (See Ta'amei Haminhagim, p. 288)
Recently, we were asked how one could prepare for Eicha -- would it not
seem as if one had given up on the thought of redemption? This train of
thought comes from the Levush, mentioned above. However, it is clear that
the Levush does not truly hold this point of view. He was merely trying to
find some justification for the custom of sofrim not to write the book of
Eicha on parchment. However, the Levush himself was of the opinion that
the reading of Eicha was of such importance that it required a brocha, just
like Megilas Esther. Properly, according to the Levush, Eicha would
certainly be written on klaf.
It appears to be a mitzva to write Eicha on parchment, and to read it
properly on Tisha B'av. Instead of preparing for the mournful time of
Tisha B'av, we could have in mind the joyous reading that will take place
sometime, replete with the Shehechiyanu brocha of thanks!