Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Etymologically derived from the Latin word dirige! (imperative) – ‘direct!’ (see Tehillim 5:9) – the “dirges” or kinnot of Tisha B’Av accomplish exactly that – they offer us direction and enable us to properly channel our emotions of despair.

These somber laments/dirges expressing public mourning and grief are composed with short meters resonating with sentiments of loss and incompletion. “The Book of Kinnot” (Lamentations) sets the tone for the day as we hear the “Lamenter” expressing anguish for the destruction of Yerushalayim in the manner of mourning an individual who has died, highlighting irrevocable loss. The poetic compositions are meant to elicit emotional responses from us, ranging from cries of suffering and shame, agony of abandonment to anger and confusion, as we turn to Hashem to remember and restore.

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Rabbanit Shani Taragin is educational director of Matan-Bellows Eshkolot Tanakh teachers’ programs and Mizrachi Olami Lapidot. Shani directs, leads tours, coordinates, and teaches Tanach, Talmud, Halacha and women’s health in numerous seminaries and adult education programs in Israel and worldwide. Shani lives with her family in Alon Shvut, Gush Etzion-Israel.