Slings and Arrows... Outrageous MisfortuneBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
Jeremiah wishes that he could live in an inn, far away from his people, so he wouldn’t have to observe their sinful actions. Their tongues are like bows shooting words of falsehood as the arrows. They go from one sin to the next, not recognizing G-d. Nobody can trust anybody else. They just tell lies all day and sin until they’re exhausted. Because of their immersion in falsehoods, they have lost the ability to know G-d. Therefore, the nation must be refined (through suffering, just as silver is refined through fire).
They speak peacefully to each other while secretly laying traps for one another – how can G-d possibly let this go on? Jeremiah mourns for the destruction that is to come; not only will the habitations of people be destroyed, even the places where cattle graze will become desolate. Both birds and animals will be forced to relocate. Jerusalem will become a ruin, inhabited by jackals. Isn’t anybody smart enough to understand why the land is being turned into a wilderness? Isn’t there a prophet who has been told this by G-d? It’s because the people ignored the Torah! Instead of following G-d, they pursued their desires and served idols. Therefore, G-d will serve them bitterness and poison. They will be scattered throughout the nations and pursued to the verge of extinction.
G-d says to call for mourners to raise a cry over the people, so mournful that their eyes will gush. (Jeremiah includes himself among the nation by saying “us” rather than “them.”) A cry is heard from Jerusalem, “We are ruined! We are shamed! We have been exiled and our homes have been razed!”
Jeremiah addresses the women, telling them to teach their neighbors and daughters a song of mourning. Death has entered, not discriminating infants and young adults. People will fall like sheaves without anyone to pick them up.
G-d says that no one should boast of their strength, wisdom or wealth – none of these things will save him. The only thing of value is that a person recognizes G-d – and G-d likes righteousness and justice! Days are coming when G-d will punish the wicked, Jew and non-Jew alike. Egypt, Judah, Amon, Moav and the rest – they’re either literally uncircumcised or, in the case of Israel, they have uncircumcised hearts.