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The Systems of the Jewish Year

All Alone Together

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

It’s tough to be alone. Loneliness is possibly one of the most painful experiences in the human experience. I’m not sure if there is anyone alive that can take being completely alone.

We always read Parshas Devarim on the Shabbos preceding Tisha B’Av. There is a connection between our Parsha and Tisha B’Av in the word Eicha. Moshe asked, How (Eicha) can I carry your burdens alone? (1:12) Eicha also refers to the Book of Lamentations that we read on Tisha B ‘Av, in which Yirmiyahu asks in astonishment, How (Eicha) could G-d have destroyed Jerusalem!?

The Vilna Gaon takes the connection further. Moshe said, “Eicha esa levadi.” “How can I alone (levad) carry your burdens?” Yirmiyahu asked, “Eicha yashvah badad” - “How can the city (of Jerusalem) sit alone, with no one to comfort her?” This gives us a clue, explains the Gr’a, to the essence of our national tragedy.

We all know that it is lonely at the top. Moshe was a lonely person; Jerusalem was a lonely city. Moshe, the greatest human being in history, admonished his people. How could you leave me alone in this burden? I too am a human being, I need support, I need friendship, and I need love! I can handle your rebellions, your murmuring, and your complaining, (Moshe referred to them all in his last speech) but you left me all alone. You allowed me to be isolated. No one can be expected to survive alone, totally alone. Moshe said ‘Eicha’. He was aghast with astonishment, and amazement.

Loneliness and isolation presents where you would least expect them. Who would fathom that Moshe Rabeinu felt isolated? Who would think that Moshe Rabeinu would need our good word, our positive feedback and our support? Who would believe that Moshe was not above it all? To this Moshe exclaimed ‘Eicha!’

The Kotzker once commented that, there is no place lonelier than a room full of people. Walk into a wedding or a Bar Mitzvah. Who would think that loneliness is even possible in this room? Everyone is eating, dancing and singing. But a room full of people is not a room of people together.

Today we are privileged to see big crowds. Thousands gather at the Kotel, thousands come together to pray for Israel, thousands demonstrate, thousands attend a Siyum HaShas, thousands celebrate and communicate on the Internet. Can anyone feel isolated?! The Kotzker said: Yes! Klal Yisroel can be a room full of people. There is nothing lonelier than a room full of people.

Chazal have guided us in this. Never let a Jew be alone. Never be elitist. Never assume someone can carry a burden themselves. Never assume someone is above feelings of loneliness and isolation. If we allow another Jew to be badad, Jerusalem too will sit badad.

Yerushalayim is a reflection of our national condition. Yerushalayim contains the nerve endings of the Jewish people. Yerushalayim was destroyed and there is no one to comfort it. Yerushalayim stands badad, in isolation, crying for its people.

Let us find ways to come together, and may ALL the streets of Yerushalayim sing with happiness and security as they overflow with holiness.

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