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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Shabbat Chazon(68)

This week's sedra is Devarim, the first in the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy). It is also called Shabbat Chazon, which is the Shabbat before Tisha B'Av, the fast of the Ninth of Av (this year, immediately before). It is called "Chazon" because the haftarah is from the first chapter of Isaiah and begins with the words "Chazon Yeshayahu" meaning "the vision of Isaiah". On Tisha B'Av (this year on Sat. night and Sunday) we read the megillah "Eicha", ( in English "Lamentations.")

Let us look at the first Rashi in Eicha.

Lamentations 1:1 Oh how does she sit in solitude, the city that was great with people has become as a widow; the greatest among the nations the princess among the countries has become for tributary.


Oh how does she sit in solitude: Rashi: Jeremiah wrote the book of Lamentations it is the same scroll which (king) Yehoyakim burnt on the fireplace; there are in it three Aleph Beises (verses in the order of the alphabet) : "Oh how does she sit" (Chapter 1); "Oh how has it become clouded" (Chapter 2); "Oh how (has the gold) been diminished" (Chapter 4); then was added "I am the man" (Chapter 3) which is a triple aleph beis as it says (Jeremiah Ch 36:32 ) "and in addition to them many things like them." Three ( Aleph Beises) against three.


This is very interesting Rashi for it gives some historical background to megallas Eicha. Read chapter 36 in the book of Jeremiah; there we have a scene of Jeremiah's depressing prophecy, which prophesied that unless the people and king repent the Temple would be destroyed. This was read in front of the king & he ridiculed it. He had it burnt in front of him to show his mockery of Jeremiah's words. Jeremiah also had to go into hiding; they wanted to kill him. (He already had been thrown into a pit - prison - for a period.) What is astounding is that in Rashi's interpretation (that the scroll referred to in Chapter 36 is Eicha and not some other scroll) it would mean that Jeremiah had written the chapters 1,2 & 4 some 17 years before the destruction! Only later when he personally witnessed the fulfillment of his prophecy, the Temple's destruction, did he add the personal ("I am the man,") chapter 3 (and 5).

Do you see how the words in chapter 36 which Rashi quotes, are evidence that Jeremiah added the third chapter later?

Your Answer:


An Answer: Rashi quotes the last words in that chapter: "an in addition to them many things like them." Rashi then writes: "Three ( Aleph Beises) against three.

This means that chapter 3, which has the order of the Aleph Beis (as the other chapters), has each letter given three verses and not just one. This is the meaning of the words in chapter 36: "and in addition to them many things like them."

Like them, meaning repeated like them - three chapters had three aleph beises so this third chapter (the personal one) also had three aleph beises. This was added later probably as the destruction was going on.


We see the trials, tribulations and frustrations of Jeremiah whose words went unheeded and he, himself, had to witness first hand the tragedy he foresaw. We also see that Eicha, according to Rashi, was written many years before the destruction; Jeremiah could actually see and emotionally experience the destruction through his prophecy many years before its occurrence. Jeremiah is probably the most personal prophet - with much self-disclosure - that we have in the Scriptures. A tragic figure. Of course his tragedy was our tragedy - the people would not hear of it. They wanted soothing words not harsh predictions of things to come - which would happen unless the people reformed their ways. We can only assume the people and king were not total fools. They were sure their behavior was fine and destruction would not come. Today we call that "denial." Are we, today, also experiencing denial?

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

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