“And the Lord heard our voices.”
As it is written: “And God heard their wailing, and God remembered His covenant, His Abraham, His Isaac, His Jacob.”
God, who supposedly knows everything, needs to be reminded of a promise He made with our ancestors. This is disconcerting—a word which here means “cause for much argument among rabbis and peasants alike”—but not surprising. All of us have forgotten about promises we have made, even promises that are very important to us, and that are still very important to the people to whom we’ve promised them. These people may be wailing right this very minute, hoping that we remember whatever it is that we promised. Perhaps we promised to help them with something, but then the task was so dull that we put it aside. Perhaps we promised to be kind to them, but then we became interested in other people instead. Or perhaps we simply promised to keep thinking about them, but we have forgotten about these people until this very moment, because it is so much more interesting to think about ourselves and our own problems.
It is entirely possible that God, too would rather think of Himself, and His own problems. When we suspect this to be the case, Jewish tradition encourages us to wail, often in Hebrew. But we might also stop wailing for a moment and listen instead. We might think of the promises we have made and have not kept, or promises we ought to have made but didn’t, and while we’re thinking of this, we might hear the wailing of others, some of whom may be trapped beneath the floors of this very room.
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