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    Tishah B’Av & Chanukah

    Echah EichahThere could hardly be a greater contrast than between Tishah B’Av and Chanukah – sadness and joy, subdued emotions and exuberant rejoicing, darkness and light.

    Not only is the mood different: so are the prayers.

    Yet a Tishah B’Av poem unwittingly suggests a new angle on Chanukah.

    Divide the word into two and you get chanu kah – “they encamped (or ceased fighting) on the 25th”, i.e. 25 Kislev. The letters k-h, with the numerical value of 25, can also be read koh, “Thus”.

    Which brings us to Tishah B’Av, when a piyyut offers a play on the word Echah, the Hebrew name of Jeremiah’s Book of Lamentations.

    The piyyut divides Echah into Ai Choh, literally, “Where is the ‘thus’?” Many Biblical promises begin with a “Thus” – e.g. “Thus shall your descendants be” (Gen. 15:5).

    On Tishah B’Av the poet confronts God; the Temple is in ruins, the people are suffering – where are all the promises of blessing and prosperity?

    Let’s borrow the “Thus” approach and apply it to Chanukah.

    A novel play on words could suggest that the purpose of Chanukah is to bring about a further “Thus” – “Thus says the Lord”, which is another common Biblical phrase in the books of the prophets.

    The original Chanukah celebrated the return to the Temple on 25 Kislev. May it inspire us to strive further to hear the “Thus says the Lord” that will enable us to merit the rebuilding of the Temple in our days!

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