When leining in shul, there are a few minhagim about what gets read with the Eicha trop. This is what I've seen most often (in chronological order through the year):

  • איכה אשא לבדי in Devarim
  • Most of the haftara of חזון
  • Eicha
  • Most of the haftara of אסף אסיפם
  • A few pesukim in Esther

What about when learning Tanach? Most of the vicinity of אסף אסיפם is at least as bad as that haftara itself. All over Tanach, there are unfortunately plenty of bad things that we've done, warnings about the punishments, and actual punishments. Which ones are bad enough to be read with the Eicha trop? To give a few examples from Neviim Rishonim:

  • Achan?
  • ויעשו בני ישראל הרע בעיני ה' ‏, all over Shoftim?
  • Pesel Micha?
  • Pilegesh Begiv'ah?
  • The Pelishtim taking the Aron, which happened at the same time as the destruction of the Mishkan in Shilo?
  • ויעש {מלך} הרע בעיני ה'? ‏
  • The destruction of the Beis Hamkidash at the end of Melachim?

Even in the list of pesukim that are traditionally read with the Eicha trop, the standards seem to fluctuate.

  • The two haftaros of the weeks before Chazon are not much better than Chazon itself, if at all.
  • The first few pesukim of Chazon are an introduction to the entire Sefer Yeshaya, which includes plenty of good nevuos, so they're really only bad in the context of the haftara.
  • I would have considered the tochachos worse than איכה אשא לבדי.

It's pretty clear that these minhagim come from reading these verses close to Tisha Be'av. But what about Esther, which is halfway across the year? Setting aside the references to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, is איככה אוכל וראיתי any worse than other threats of bad things happening all over Tanach?

Or are these minhagim about using Eicha trop outside of Eicha meant specifically for public reading and not for personal learning?

Ideally, answers would be one of:

  • a comprehensive list of pesukim that are traditionally read with Eicha trop when learning Tanach (which could consist of just Eicha itself)
  • general rules for determining whether a pasuk or group of pesukim is bad enough
  • I think you're making an incorrect assumption that Eicha trope means "bad" or "tragic". Perhaps, you can expand on that? Eicha trope is for Eicha. As to why other verses imitate Eicha, it's probably timing, except for those in Esther. Maybe narrow your scope to that comparison?
    – DanF
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 16:28
  • 2
    "I think you're making an incorrect assumption that Eicha trope means "bad" or "tragic". ". I am assuming that, but why do you say it's incorrect?
    – Heshy
    Commented Jun 10, 2018 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


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 trop)
  • 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 different ways

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.

  • 2
    I said most of that in the question. I'm asking where you use it when learning Tanach.
    – Heshy
    Commented Oct 31, 2018 at 20:10

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