Reuven Brauner wrote to us from Raanana, Israel about his publication on the lamentations (Hebrew: kinnot or kinnos) for Tisha B'Av, "Key Notes for Kinnos." The work is available in PDF format for free downloading at http://www.halakhah.com/:
The Tisha B'Av poems of lament, the Kinnos, like all our Piyyutim and Selichos, were written in a poetic language and style containing hinted references to verses in Tanach, stories in the Talmud and Midrashim, and other historical incidents like the Crusades. They are difficult to comprehend and appreciate by even the most knowledgeable modern speaker or student of Hebrew, not to mention those who are not fluent in the Holy Tongue.
What chance is there for most of us to fully understand the depths of their messages of sadness and despair, prayer and hope?
In a modest attempt to rectify a part of this problem, I have selected a few key words and phrases from each Kinnoh and provided a flash of information regarding their definitions and references in hope that the reader will be able obtain a measure of meaning from and appreciation for what he or she is reading during the services of this day of fasting and repentance.
This work I call A Few Key Notes on Kinnos. It has been designed to be used as a sort of quick reference guide and companion volume in conjunction with a proper Sefer Kinnos.
I have also added some brief prefatory remarks regarding the authors of the various Kinnos, and some other background material of interest.
The information in this monograph is based primarily on the work on the Kinnos of the great liturgical researcher and scholar, the late Dr. Daniel Goldschmidt, his footnotes and comments, which was published by Mossad Harav Kook and which I highly recommend.