The emotion and the poetry fluctuate from shock on Tishah B’Av evening to sorrow the following morning, and to almost a feeling of joy by the end of the poetry when a melody of comfort and optimism concludes the service.
We begin by sitting and weeping over the words of Jeremiah’s Echah; we end by singing of the future in Eli Tziyyon. Everything is gloomy and black to start with; finally we stand up and think of the future.
You might ask which emotion is more authentic, more characteristic – the shadow or the sunlight – and you have no choice but to offer the answer “both”.
In case you fancy pretending that everything is fine, the laments bring you sharply down to earth. In case you fear that the suffering and sorrow will go on for ever, the air of Eli Tziyyon makes you smile in the midst of your tears.
If you ask which is more important in modern Jewish history, the Holocaust or Israel, the answer is also “both”.
The black night of the Holocaust cannot be denied or minimised, but neither can the bright dawn of the emergence of Israel.
The progress between one emotion and the other is symbolised in Israel by the proximity of the day of mourning and the day of joy, and Tishah B’Av in its own way presents the same picture.