Changing the Tune for the Third Chapter of Eicha

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Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik

by R. Aharon Ziegler

There is a prevalent custom where the reader of Megillat Eicha for Tisha B’Av changes the trop tune when he reads the third chapter. Some claim that this is done because the sentences are all shorter and more cryptic making the regular trop sound awkward.

Rav Soloveitchik said that when he was in the Ukraine he never heard of this change in trop, but he did hear it in Berlin. Furthermore, he acknowledged that it does make sense because the entire tenor of Eicha changes in that perek. Until that point the mood consists primarily of asking how such destruction could occur–which is actually, a complaint. In fact the Rav said that the tone of Kinot is different from Selichot, of which the latter always emphasizes the “mipnei chato’einu” concept, that we are to blame and it is our fault.

Kinot, in contrast, asks how G-d could do this to us. The mood of the third perek in Eicha, however, is one of taking responsibility for what happened and turning inward: Nissa Leva’veinu El-Kapayim El Kel BaShamayim –Let us lift up our heart with our hands to G-d in the heavens [Eicha 3:41]. It is true that each perek has some mention of acknowledging our fault, but that is incidental and not the main emphasis.

We also see that not all wailing sounds are the same. Kinot wailing is definitely different than Slichot wailing. And all the wailing of the first, second, fourth and fifth perakim of Eicha are decidedly different than the third. Whether we should change the tune for the third is a matter of different opinions and different customs.

About Aharon Ziegler

Rabbi Aharon Ziegler is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Agudath Achim of Boro Park and the Dean and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Agudath Achim. He is the author of six volumes of Halakhic Positions of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.

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