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The elegy "אש תוקד בקרבי", in the 9 Av liturgy, contrasts our exodus from Egypt after enslavement there with our exile from Jerusalem with the Temple's destruction. It comprises 23 couplets, each of which presents a contrast of similar ideas. Sometimes the contrast is literal, as in the fifteenth stanza:

We would wage war and God was there in my exodus from Egypt.
He was far from us and, lo, he is absent, in my exile from Jerusalem.

Other times it's allegorical, as in the fourth stanza:

The sea waves rose and stood like a wall in my exodus from Egypt.
The deliberately evil ones flooded and poured over my head in my exile from Jerusalem.

One stanza, though, doesn't seem to be a contrast of similars. The eighteenth stanza reads:

פארי מגבעות לכבוד נקבעות בצאתי ממצרים.‏
שריקות ותרועות וקולות וזועות בצאתי מירושלים.‏

The splendor of hats, set for honor, in my exodus from Egypt.
Whistles, trumpet blasts, sounds, and tremblings in my exile from Jerusalem.

(The מגבעות, hats, referred to are presumably the kohanim's.)

What's the contrast here? How do glorious hats contrast with terrifying sounds?

  • Possibly helpful to someone trying to find an answer to this: Rashbam to Sh'mos 28:40. – msh210 Aug 6 '14 at 1:34
  • @msh210. I preface this with I really don't know the answer but would like to share an idea I thought of. Hats, in a sense, hide things. In Judaism, head coverings are a sign of respect to the Creator. They are suggestive of modesty. The Sounds, as per your translation, are attention getters. They are harsh and unpleasant. Thus, perhaps, Israel had a quiet dignity while leaving Egypt. In contrast, they were exiled in shame from Yerushalyim. – JJLL Aug 6 '14 at 2:53
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+50

Peirush Lev Aharon (Kinnah 31, this Kinnah) asks the very same question and notes that the hats were worn "לכבוד ולתפארת", as an honor and beauty (Exodus 28:40), as emphasized by the author of this Kinnah. The noises or "terrifying sounds", as you call them, are not actually war cries or terrified screaming, but rather, the whistling and mocking noises made by our enemies to degrade us. If this is the case, the hats show honor, and the noises show the opposite:

ולא ניחא דאין דימוי בין אברי החרוזה, אלא נראה שְׁרִיקוֹת, של תמהון ובוז, כד"א (ירמיה יח טז): לָשׂוּם אַרְצָם לְשַׁמָּה שְׁרִיקוֹת עוֹלָם כֹּל עוֹבֵר עָלֶיהָ יִשֹּׁם גו', ופי' רש"י דהעובר על חרבות שראה כבר בבניינם הטוב רגיל לשרוק. וּתְרוּעוֹת, של שמחת השונא, כמו (תהלים מא יב): כִּי לֹא־יָרִיעַ אֹיְבִי עָלָי. וְקוֹלוֹת, בנוס' דווקני: לְקָלוֹן, כלומר לשעבר נהג בי באותות כבוד ועתה הייתי לבזיון. וּזְוָעוֹת, האומות רואים זועות החורבן ומנדים אותנו, כענין שנאמר (דברים כח כה): וְהָיִיתָ לְזַעֲוָה לְכֹל מַמְלְכוֹת הָאָרֶץ, ותרגם יונתן: ותהוון לריחוק לכל מלכות ארעא.

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My own take:
The hats in question are מגבעות worn by the kohanim during the Temple Service. The Service represents stability (to the point that rabbinic idiom still includes the phrase תמידים כסדרן to this day). The stability of the Kohanim at their posts is contrasted with the instability of the alarms and terror of the exile.

  • I would add that the temple service included multiple trumpet/shofar blowing, daily. – Danny Schoemann Aug 6 '14 at 8:11
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    True, but if the paytan was referring to those I would expect a reference to them in the first half of the couplet. – Yitzchak Aug 6 '14 at 14:00
  • But there are a few stanzas about the temple service. Why is stability associated specifically with hats? – msh210 Jul 22 '18 at 10:42

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