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I recently browsed a Tikun Simanim and noticed that in the first 4 chapters of Eicha (Lamentations), each verse is in its own parsha (paragraph). I don't know if this is unique among the books of Tanac"h or not. (I haven't checked how every book is written on klaf.) If it is unique, why was it written this way?

  • It's not consistent between tikkunim, since Masechet Sofrim doesn't require particular parshios for most of Ketuvim – Noach MiFrankfurt Oct 21 '18 at 19:59
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    @Noach ?? It's quite consistent in old manuscripts. Rashi even says so IINM. Masekhet Sofrim has no such rule. Many later books never cared to print parshiot accd to any tradition, but that's not Judaism just printers. Some even just put parsha breaks at every Christian chapter break! – Double AA Oct 21 '18 at 20:19
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This is my personal pshat that I've developed over a few years.

The first four chapters (for Eicha the Christian breaks are the obvious logical divisions) follow the alef bet to indicate the totality of the destruction - everything from א to ת is lost. The parsha breaks are meant to show that each individual pasuk, each individual thing that was lost, was a tragedy by itself, not just part of the bigger picture.

The last perek is different. It doesn't follow the alef bet, but it does have 22 pesukim (the structure of one of the nighttime kinnos uses this fact). I suggest that this is meant to reflect the situation years later. The destruction is still complete, and the 22 pesukim indicate a "virtual" alef bet, but because of the galus we don't even see the totality of the destruction. And there's only one parsha break, because we don't realize the magnitude of each individual tragedy.

The short piyut אשמנו מכל עם in the viduy of selichos, which is supposed to inspire us to teshuva by reminding us of the destruction, uses a pasuk from this perek, עבדים משלו בנו פרק אין מידם, as part of its alphabetical structure. I'd like to further suggest that this is meant to remind us that we don't even appreciate the magnitude of the destruction as we should and to restore the alphabetical order, which was partially corrupted (פ before ע) in the second, third, and fourth perakim and completely lost in the last one.

  • Interesting analysis. You say that this is your personal pshat, but I sense that there's some "foundation" behind this. If so, please indicate. – DanF Oct 22 '18 at 19:54
  • @DanF I may have heard "The first four chapters follow the alef bet to indicate the totality of the destruction" somewhere, but I don't remember where. Maybe artscroll. The rest is my own. Very rarely do I see anyone actually discuss the significance of parsha breaks so it's not that surprising. – Heshy Oct 22 '18 at 19:59

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