Is Jerusalem like a widow?

In the first verse of Megilat Eicha, the prophet Yirmiyahu describes Jerusalem k’almana, like a widow: “Alas- she sits in solitude! The city that was great with people has become like a widow. The greatest among nations, the princess among provinces, has become a vassal.”

Eicha goes on to tell us that she weeps bitterly at night. She has nobody to comfort her. Her friends are now her enemies, her young children have gone into captivity.

Why is Jerusalem described as k’almana, like a widow, rather than almana, a widow?

In the Talmud, Sanhedrin 104a, Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav: Jerusalem has merely become like a widow, but not truly a widow. Rather, she is like a woman whose husband has gone overseas, but his intention is to return to her. Similarly, Jerusalem is not permanently estranged from God, but will one day be reunited with Him.

B’nai Yisrael “the husband” left Jerusalem “the wife” during the exile but will eventually come back as it says in Yishayahu 54:4 “Fear not, for you shall not be ashamed: neither be humiliated; for you shall not be disgraced: For you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall no longer remember the disgrace of your widowhood.”

Radak explains that at the time of the final redemption, we will not experience the humiliations that our ancestors encountered when they returned from exile in the days of Ezra.

We will read in the Haftara for Parshat Nitzavim (Yishayahu 62:5), the seventh Haftara of Nechama (comfort) exactly eight weeks from this Shabbat: “As a young man takes a maiden in marriage, so will your children settle in you; and like the bridegroom’s rejoicing over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

Instead of the image of a man deserting his wife, we have the image of a groom rejoicing with his bride.

We are already fulfilling part of this prophecy. The Jewish people have returned to their homeland. The “husband” and “wife” are now back together. Now we are waiting for all of the “children” who are living throughout the world to return home to Jerusalem and settle in Israel.

Fifteen years ago, in August 2004, Josh and I decided to do our part in fulfilling the prophecy by making aliya along with our two young children Dov and Moshe. Yehuda was born on Chanuka two years later.

May we all be blessed to return to the rebuilt Jerusalem.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a meaningful Tisha B’Av

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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