The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

New writings by R' David Seidenberg:
"The Third Promise: Can Judaism’s indigenous core help us rise above the damaging politics of our time?"

for more Tisha B'Av resources click here!

You can fast, sit on the ground, etc., but you can't really observe Tish'a B'Av without feeling it. A good translation of Eikhah, "Lamentations" or "Laments", makes a huge difference. If you want to get what makes Tish'a B'Av real or relevant, try this translation. The current version can be downloaded in handout and booklet format. Copy it for your synagogue, havurah, minyan.

Tish'a B'Av תשעה באב is not primarily about mourning, but about becoming refugees, being thrown into a hostile world without shelter or protection. Part of this experience is mourning for what has been lost, but what we think of as mourning customs -- not wearing fresh clothes, not washing, eating or drinking, not being able to sit down -- more closely resembles the experience of a refugee than a mourner sitting shiva. Tish'a B'Av is not primarily about the end of sacrifices or the Temple – Chaza"l, the rabbis, figured out how to live without the Temple long ago. Rather, it's about homelessness, fleeing from war into famine, about things that are all too present in our world. It's also an opportunity to confront the ways in which we as individuals (and as a people) use our power to make others (people and species) into refugees. In an era when refugees are mistreated, when children are separated from families in order to punish parents for seeking asylum in the U.S., when countries across eastern Europe as well as Italy have come out to meet people fleeing war with armed opposition, like Edom rising up to repel the Israelites, we need to read Laments as the story of what is happening right now.

Reb David Seidenberg's articles on Tisha B'Av:

  • "To Prey or to Pray? The Lessons of Famine" – on cannibalism in Eikhah
  • The meaning of Tish'a B'Av after the state of Israel
  • "Breaking Open the Abyss" – on Tisha B'Av and environmental destruction
  • "Why I'm fasting for Tisha B'Av" – on refugees
  • "How Tisha B'Av can help us understand the refugee experience" – interview with Rabbi David by JTA
  • For all other Tish'a B'Av material on Neohasid (songs, prayers, texts), click here
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    Eikhah Booklet:

    The following file of neohasid's translation of Eikhah can be printed back-to-back and folded in half to make a 28-page booklet (seven sheets double-sided, stapled on the center crease.When you click to download, a window will open to make a donation -- but you do not need to donate in order to download the booklet.

    Download the PDF in booklet format

    Please support neohasid with a donation!
    Versions you can use on zoom: PPT or PDF half page per slide, PPT or PDF whole page per slide. Also available on ISSUU in book format that animates page-turning. The handout format will also work as a zoom pdf, two pages per sheet.

    A Visceral Translation

    Click image to download zoom-ready PowerPoint, half-page per slide:

    Laments for zoom

    Laments for zoom Get the half-page format in PDF. You can also get Eikhah-Laments formatted as single whole pages for zoom in a PDF or in a PPT format, black-on-tan. Or a black-on-white PDF, or black-on-white PPT. (Formats for photocopying below come two pages side-by-side per sheet.) Or get it in ISSUU book format that animates page-turning. The handout format below, two pages per sheet, will also work with zoom.

    The translation offered here is one of the best you'll find for liturgical use. Ten years in the making (and first conceived in 1993), Laments was finally completed in 2017, with chapter 3 fully retranslated, new artwork, and an expanded afterward. I always have at least one chapter read phrase by phrase in Hebrew and English when I lead a Tish'a B'Av reading, and it's a very powerful experience. For 2018 and 2019, minor tweaks to the translation were made. For 2020, several versions of a zoom-ready Power Point or PDF were created. Laments uses the Buber-Rosenzweig principles of concordant translation, which means it's closer to the Hebrew syntax and sense than the JPS. It strives to connect us on a gut-level to what Laments and Tisha B'Av are all about: a national cataclysm that turned the entire people into refugees, treated with hostility by neighboring countries and persecuted by ruling powers.

    Laments also includes an afterword on theology and theodicy in Eikhah and on ecological meanings of Tisha B'Av. Click here to read the afterward. I've also added some new pages of commentary for 2020 that you can download separately. And here's another set of readings you can use, by Rabbi Jill Hausman. A suggestion for zoom -- invite everyone to have their lights down with just a candle for illumination.

    I imagined using this half-page black-on-tan version with a zoom matrix of people in darkened rooms illuminated by candles and screens. The half-page version can be read in a smaller frame, leaving room for people to see each other, and black-on-tan would go better with candelight. Note that for the PPT files, you can change the color of the slides or reset them to black-on-white.
    Please consider making a donation if you use this offering of Eikhah and find it meaningful! $3 is appreciated; for more than 10 copies, 50¢ per copy is appreciated. Whatever donation would be for zoom Eikhah is up to you. All funds used for Thanks! Please share!

    Click here to download a zoom-ready PowerPoint (PPT) version of Laments with a half page (3-6 verses) per slide. You can also get a PDF version. And if you prefer a whole page per slide click here for black-on-tan PDF, or here for black-on-tan PPT, or here black-on-white PDF, or here for black-on-white PPT.

    Click here to download a handout format PDF that staples in the upper left-hand corner with pages in consecutive order (read each sheet right-to-left).

    Click here to download a booklet format PDF that folds in the middle. (See copying instructions to the left at the bottom of the column.)

    When you click to download a window will open to make a donation. You can download Laments whether or not you donate.

    Image below links to booklet format (best for printed copies):
    Laments page one


    Hi David...
    thanks for this. much love. good luck in Mass. SL

    Posted by: SaraLeya at July 22, 2007 3:45 PM

    Playing a solea or siguiriya does it for me.

    Posted by: Solea at July 22, 2007 11:54 PM

    Thank you so much, David. Having a good translation is really important to connect to this very difficult holiday. Thanks too for the linear layout (What software did you use to create it?)
    b'Ahavah, Chaim

    Posted by: Norman Weingart at July 30, 2008 9:38 PM

    Super Great Job! I love the layout and translation.

    Posted by: Felipe at July 31, 2008 11:58 AM

    Thanks. I've just added a post to my site with your Fresh Translation.

    Posted by: Victorino at July 26, 2009 11:56 AM

    Thanks to Kay Magilavy for inserting page numbers into the 2008 edition!


    Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006