What to Cry About
By Rabbi Label Lam
Remember please, and lament, O all of Israel, let your voices be heard on
For Germany has destroyed our people, during the stormy days of the World
with killings, horrible and cruel, with starvation and thirst.
For all generations, do not forget, until you will merit witnessing the
(Remember) Their screams and their weeping as they were tightly packed and
locked into the train’s (cattle) cars.
Like sheep to the slaughter they were led to be incinerated in the
May the sound of their pleading cries be eternally remembered by the One
Who dwells in the Heavens.
When they proclaimed, “Shema Yisrael” they offered up their lives to the
Lord of lords.
(Excerpt from the Kinnah in memory of the Martyrs of Churban Europe by
Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe)
The following is found in a footnote of the Artscroll Tisha B’Av Siddur:
The Bobover Rebbe was a scion of Sanz, one of the most illustrative
Rabbinic and Chassidic dynasties. The Rav lost everything in the Holocaust-
family, friends, followers, disciples, and students in the thousands. The
Rebbe arrived in America after the war with nothing but the clothes on his
back and a burning determination to rebuild what the Nazis had destroyed.
With the help of HASHEM the glory of the House of Bobov has been restored
and one can find dozens of Bobover institutions and thousands of Bobover
Chassidim in every corner of the globe.
In 1984, the Bobover Rebbe composed a special Kinnah to bemoan the tragedy
of Churban Europe and it is recited in many congregations. When the Rav
was asked to for permission to include his Kinnah and its translation in
this edition of Kinnos, he graciously conceded. Then he explained why he
had written it; “For years I had wanted to express my grief over my
personal loss and Klal Yisrael’s loss, in a special Kinnah, but I
hesitated. I felt that in order to compose a Kinnah one must be on the
exalted level of R’ Elazar HaKalir, who wrote with
Ruach HaKodesh, Divine Inspiration. Moreover, he was a master of
Kabbalistic secrets and knew the mystical incantations of the ministering
angels. Still many Chassidim requested a vehicle to express their personal
sorrow on this bitter day, but I held back because I felt genuinely
Then one day I was studying the laws of Tisha B’Av in the book Seder
HaYom (By Moshe Ben Yehuda Makir, Rosh HaYeshiva in Sefad, and a
colleague of the Arizal and the R’Yosef Karo) He writes as
follows: “Whoever can wail on this day should wail, and whoever can recite
Kinnos should recite Kinnos-either those already recorded in the holy
books or the Kinnos he himself composed with the intellect that G-d has
granted him. It is a Mitzvah for each and every individual to compose
Kinnos for weeping and moaning and to recite them on this bitter day.
Whoever does this is considered most righteous and is worthy of being
described as one of Jerusalem’s mourners and one of her holy men. But one
who is not capable of composing his personal Kinnos, should recite the
Kinnos written by others.”
“When I read these words”, the Rav concluded, “I saw a clear sign from
heaven that time had come to compose a Kinnah over the last Churban. For
doesn’t the Seder HaYom say clearly that any person, even the smallest,
should express his feelings in his original Kinnah?”
For those of us who have grown up in the era of the American exile a
Kinnah awaits to be written and wailed about on the bitter day of Tisha B’
Av… Woe for all the heads without Tefillin…after 3700 years from Avraham
Avinu and after surviving Holocausts and Inquisitions Jewish boys and
girls blunder in the darkness that plagues our generation and go lost by
the millions, with visions of isms and pleasure in an instant, rapt in
utter ignorance, bathed in a blue light that captivates their souls, they
may never escape, and generations and giant families whole have
disappeared and their names only grace lonely stones in forgotten
cemeteries bearing words their children, those that had, could never read.
Woe to us…on this bitter day we too have what to cry about.
DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.