The Lament At The River
By (bs”d): Aryel Nachman for Tisha B’Av 5768
137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
Why did we weep? Was it for our homes, our property, our shops and fields? No, these we missed. Was it for our family and friends who we would never see again? No, for they are with us in exile. Was it for the dead? No, for these we mourn.
We wept because we closed our ears to the warnings, and now they were open. We wept because we closed our eyes to the abominations, and now we see. We wept because HaShem sent to us His prophet with warnings, and we were foolish and brazen, and therefore, we inherited Gehenom of our own free will. We wept because strange gods now surrounded us and we long for the G-d of Yisrael.
137:2 Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.
The willow, like us, looks strong, but its roots in the land are shallow, and HaShem’s wind will uproot us at His will. The willow grows well by the waters, like us, when we are faithful and watered by the words of HaShem. The willow grows tall and then bends down humbly; like us when we are faithful, we bow down to HaShem. But now the willow reminds us of our brazenness and we are now bent low in a foreign land.
The harp is an instrument of joy, and in this land there is no joy. The harp is an instrument of the Temple, and the Temple is no more, so we have hang up our harps. We hang up our harps in the willow’s branches so when the wind blows it will make the harp vibrate and remind us of what we had and to humble ourselves before HaShem. We hang our harps in the branches in hope that in His great mercy, He may look favorably on our repentance and return us to the land.
137:3 For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion.’
When we turn our backs on HaShem, He will hide his face from us. When HaShem hides his face, our enemy, like the jackal that smells the rotting carcass, follows the scent to devour the remains. They howl in delight.
137:4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?
On the Rivers of Babylon – Jhbard Fogel 1920