Where We Leyn with Eikha Trop – a saga in two parts
Part 1: during the Tisha b'Av season
- Eikha chapters 1, 2, 4, 5 (and 3 in communities like Ḥabad that don't
use the chapter 3 niggun)
- Almost the entire haftarah for Tisha b'Av –
Jeremiah 8:13 – 9:21 (vv. 9:22-23 are usually in normal haftarah
- Much of the Shabbat Ḥazon haftarah – Isaiah 1:1–26. Different
customs exist – I learned that the following verses are read in
normal haftarah trop: 1:1, 1:18-19, 1:24-26
- Deuteronomy 1:12 – אֵיכָ֥ה אֶשָּׂ֖א לְבַדִּ֑י טָרְחֲכֶ֥ם וּמַֽשַּׂאֲכֶ֖ם וְרִֽיבְכֶֽם׃, which is always read on Shabbat Ḥazon and starts with the word איכה.
Part 2: not during the Tisha b'Av season.
Several verses or parts of verses for Esther. Again, different customs exist. Personally, I learned that the following verses are read in Eicha trop:
- 1:7 – וְכֵלִ֖ים מִכֵּלִ֣ים שׁוֹנִ֑ים (in reference to the midrash that the various cups came from the Temple)
- 2:6, entire verse אֲשֶׁ֤ר הָגְלָה֙ מִיר֣וּשָׁלַ֔יִם עִם־הַגֹּלָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הָגְלְתָ֔ה עִ֖ם יְכָנְיָ֣ה מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר הֶגְלָ֔ה נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּ֖ר מֶ֥לֶךְ בָּבֶֽל׃ (clear parallels in meaning)
- 3:15–4:1 הָֽרָצִ֞ים יָצְא֤וּ דְחוּפִים֙ בִּדְבַ֣ר הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ וְהַדָּ֥ת נִתְּנָ֖ה בְּשׁוּשַׁ֣ן הַבִּירָ֑ה וְהַמֶּ֤לֶךְ וְהָמָן֙ יָשְׁב֣וּ לִשְׁתּ֔וֹת וְהָעִ֥יר שׁוּשָׁ֖ן נָבֽוֹכָה׃ (פ) וּמָרְדֳּכַ֗י יָדַע֙ אֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֣ר נַעֲשָׂ֔ה וַיִּקְרַ֤ע מָרְדֳּכַי֙ אֶת־בְּגָדָ֔יו וַיִּלְבַּ֥שׁ שַׂ֖ק וָאֵ֑פֶר וַיֵּצֵא֙ בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעִ֔יר וַיִּזְעַ֛ק זְעָקָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה וּמָרָֽה׃(the destruction of the entire people is forewarned, great fear and terror, sackcloth and ashes)
- 4:3 –אֵ֤בֶל גָּדוֹל֙ לַיְּהוּדִ֔ים וְצ֥וֹם וּבְכִ֖י וּמִסְפֵּ֑ד שַׂ֣ק
וָאֵ֔פֶר יֻצַּ֖ע לָֽרַבִּֽים׃ (great mourning, sackcloth and ashes)
- 4:14 –וְאַ֥תְּ וּבֵית־אָבִ֖יךְ תֹּאבֵ֑דוּ וּמִ֣י יוֹדֵ֔עַ אִם־לְעֵ֣ת
כָּזֹ֔את הִגַּ֖עַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת׃ (you and father's house will perish.
Note: six words prior to this use a different niggun, neither Esther
trop nor Eicha trop)
- 4:16 – וּבְכֵ֞ן אָב֤וֹא אֶל־הַמֶּ֙לֶךְ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־כַדָּ֔ת
וְכַאֲשֶׁ֥ר אָבַ֖דְתִּי אָבָֽדְתִּי׃ (further usage of "I perish")
- 7:4 – כִּ֤י נִמְכַּ֙רְנוּ֙ אֲנִ֣י וְעַמִּ֔י לְהַשְׁמִ֖יד לַהֲר֣וֹג
וּלְאַבֵּ֑ד (further usage of "we have been sold for destruction, for
murder, and for perishing")
- 8:6 – whole verse כִּ֠י אֵיכָכָ֤ה אוּכַל֙ וְֽרָאִ֔יתִי בָּרָעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁר־יִמְצָ֣א אֶת־עַמִּ֑י וְאֵֽיכָכָ֤ה אוּכַל֙ וְֽרָאִ֔יתִי בְּאָבְדַ֖ן מוֹלַדְתִּֽי׃ (again using that איככה root, also referring to
standing idly by while one's people is murdered)
And that's it.
Why do we use Eikha trop for Tisha b'Av and for Purim and that's it?
There are actually a lot of connections between Tisha b'Av and Purim. Both are days
- where work is permitted
- where the key reading is a megillah rather than Torah or Haftarah
- where said megillah is read at night, a time when leyning is almost
always forbidden (Simchat Torah is a whole other story)
- where we skip תחנון and the "תתקבל" verse in the Kaddish Shalem
- unlisted in the Torah itself, without any additional sacrifices
- closely associated with the experience of exile – albeit in very
Not to mention that, at least in Ashkenazi musical traditions, Eikha trop is strikingly similar to Esther trop – note the similar melodic patterns for darga-tevir, zarqa-segol, and revi'i.
The rabbis also warn us that even at our happiest, we should not forget the sorrow of exile. We smash a glass at a wedding to stop excessive celebration, we leave a section of the wall unpainted, etc., etc. On Purim, the happiest, craziest, raunchiest day of the year, maybe we add some Eikha trop to bring us back down to earth, just a little – just as we don't read Hallel on Purim since it wasn't a complete redemption.
There's an old joke:
- What's the difference between Yekke (aka German Jewish) Purim and
Yekke Tisha b'Av?
- On Purim they wear leather shoes.
It's meant to poke fun at the stereotype of the stoic, serious, fun-hating, "Lutheran lite" German Jew. But there's a deeper level to it. The connections between the two, the happiest exile day and the saddest exile day, are much deeper than surface-level. Perhaps we ought to remember that when we're putting on our fancy shoes next Purim.