The Kinah Of Eli Tzion

0

burningby Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times

Most of the Kinos we recite on Tishah B’Av were written during the Crusades. “Eli Tzion” is a kinah that has a special impact on many people. Perhaps it is because the same mournful tune is used on Mussaf of yom tov when we say, “B’nei veischa k’vatchilah,” but it is this author’s feeling that it is the triple combination of the remarkable words, the slow dirge, and the rhyme.

If any of the three elements were missing, it would not have the same impact. Unfortunately, those who are not fluent in the Hebrew lose the impact, even if they were to simultaneously read it in English. To some, the translation provided below, in which an effort was made to keep the rhyme, may help bring across the powerful feeling that so many feel when hearing and reciting “Eli Tzion.”

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the palace abandoned and forlorn
Because of the sins of the flock she had borne
And for the arrival of the blasphemers that looms
Into the sanctuary of the Temple’s rooms

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the exile of the servants of G d
Who’d sing songs, praise and applaud
And for their blood, spilled in barrels
Bursting forth like waters of her channels

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the lyrics of her dances so grand
Now absent and silent throughout the land
And for the great hall in which it did stand
The glorious Sanhedrin, now unmanned

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the daily offering lost to the nation
And for the Pidyon Bechor’s negation
And for her vessel’s desecration
And for the incense altar’s salvation

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

For the children of her kings, let’s cry
The descendants of David, flying so high
And for their beauty, now entirely lost
When her royal crowns were tossed

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the Divine honor now in exile
At the destruction of temples erstwhile
And for the persecutor who did scorn
As she dons her garments torn

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the pounding and numerous blows
Her noblemen received from their foes
And for the smashing upon the stone
The skulls of infants and children not yet grown

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the joyous shouts of the enemy
Laughing at her misfortune and calamity
And upon the affliction of free men set apart
Noble in spirit and pure of heart.

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the sin that she had wrought
Diverting her from the straight path she had sought
And for the legions of congregations slackened
With faces now wrinkled and blackened

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry over the curses of those who abused her
Multiplying corpses as they pursued her
And for the sounds of those who blasphemed long and hard
Inside the tabernacle of her courtyard

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

Cry for the Name that was profaned
In the mouth of the tormentor so disdained
And for the prayer we cry out to You
Hear our cries, through and through!

Cry, O Zion, and cities around her!
Like a woman in labor whose birth pangs confound her
And like a mournful newly wed bride
Crying over her groom who died

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com.