Can the mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple still be relevant today? It seems that in the 21st century, in a free and prosperous State of Israel, the pain over the loss of the Temples thousands of years ago is perceived as distant and irrelevant. If, five hundred years ago, Jews found in the verses of the Book of Lamentations a reflection of the persecutions they endured in exile, and if fifty years ago these verses mirrored the stark challenges of the modern era, today we must recognize in the Book of Lamentations the pains of contemporary humanity. We enjoy abundance, technology, and entertainment, but an inner feeling of emptiness sometimes surfaces, leaving us restless.
In this commentary on the Book of Eikha and its laments, the ancient words take on a new meaning. Cultural phenomena of our time – loneliness, sorrow, alienation, and a sense of disconnection – resonate as if they were taken from today's morning headlines. Each verse resounds with a cry of great pain: "Where are you headed, O man?" Within the abundance, technology, and entertainment – do you find meaning and holiness in your life?
This book vividly describes the pains of contemporary culture in which we live. Paradoxically, by acknowledging our shortcomings, the Book of Lamentations and its laments outline a path towards repair: "Return us, O Lord, and we shall return; renew our days as of old."
Rabbi Haggai Lunden, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Holon, is one of the prominent Israeli figures in Jewish education today and is a prominent feature in yeshiva and academic settings, as well as through various media channels, and conferences throughout the country. He is known for his ability to make Jewish concepts accessible in the language of the twenty-first century.