Newsletter

TWO KINDS OF WEEPING

Roy Neuberger - Jul. 24, 2015


In a certain study hall in Jerusalem, there was a Rabbi who would continually pace up and down between the lecterns, carrying on an intense conversation in learning … with himself! This was a delightful and sometimes amusing spectacle. As he paced, however, he was also aware of his surroundings. One day, I was explaining to my study partner my personal criterion for a good leader of the prayers, namely that he should make me cry.


The Rabbi yelled out, “cry-tear-iyun!”

Was this guy sharp!

My friends, we can learn a lot from “cry-tear-iyun.” We say every day, that, among the “precepts whose fruits a person enjoys in This World but whose principal remains for him in the World to Come is ‘iyun’ tefilla … absorption in prayer” (Shabbos 127a).

What is the secret of prayer?

“Rabbi Elazar said: ‘From the day that the Temple was destroyed, the heavenly gates of prayer were locked…. But even though the gates of prayer have been locked, the gates of tears have not been locked, for it is stated, ‘Hear my prayer, G-d give ear to my outcry; to my tears be not silent’” (Berachos 32b).

Tears indicate that we are taking our prayers to heart, that we are trying to understand, visualize and internalize our words, trying to comprehend what we are saying, trying to address G-d “with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our resources” – begging for life and sustenance. This is not theory but reality, and it can bring us to tears. This, I believe, is “iyun tefilla… absorption in prayer.”

The heart of Joseph was so deep! He ruled over Egypt, the greatest civilization in the world at that time, yet his heart melted when he saw his brothers’ repentance. “Joseph could not endure in the presence of all who stood before him, so he called out, ‘Remove everyone from before me.’ Thus no one stood with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He gave forth his voice in weeping…” (Genesis 45:1-2).

My friends, do we know how to weep?

“Whosoever mourns for Jerusalem will merit to witness her joy, and whosoever do not mourn for Jerusalem will not merit to witness her joy” (Taanis 30b).

On Tisha b’Av, the Ninth day of the month of Av, the Jewish People wept at the report of the spies. This nation had everything! We had been freed from slavery by the Master of the Universe Himself and then sustained in a “howling wilderness,” (Deuteronomy 32:10) but we believed the spies! “The entire assembly raised up and issued its voice; the people wept that night” (Numbers 14:1).

There are two kinds of tears.

There are tears of complaint against G-d, tears of self-pity, tears of frustration, when one does not feel “sameach b’chelko … happiness in what he has” (Ethics of the Fathers 4:1). There is no end to these tears. The Jewish People wanted to “return to Egypt.” This would, G-d forbid, have nullified our entire existence. We would have sunk below mem-tes shaarei tumah, the forty-ninth level of impurity, and become Egyptians, ending the mission of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! That is what our ancestors desired when they cried in the desert. That is why this day is so tragic!

There is another kind of tears.

“Thus said G-d: A voice is heard on high, wailing, and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, for they are gone” (Jeremiah 31:14).

This is weeping for one’s People, the tragedy of a Nation. Ultimately, it is weeping for Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father and King, Who has accompanied us into exile and Who suffers for us and with us on a scale of magnitude that we cannot even begin to imagine. These are tears of love for G-d and His People.

The Gate of Tears has not been locked!

The adult body is over sixty percent water. A baby (whose principal means of communication is through tears) is seventy-eight percent water. When a person cries, his eye perceives something painful and then his very essence flows out through his eyes. That is what real tears are about. You are losing your essence! Your very being is so distraught that your insides are actually exiting your body!

Every day we say, “Shema Yisroel! the L-rd is our G-d, the One and Only! You shall love G-d your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your resources.” When we cry during prayer, we are expressing love for G-d with all our heart … with all our soul and with all our resources. Our essence is pouring out. “Majestic, Beautiful, Radiance of the universe, my soul pines for Your love!” (Yedid Nefesh prayer)

These are the tears of Tisha B’Av!

We don’t have to fake these tears. We don’t have to try to make ourselves cry. We simply have to listen to the words of our own prayers!

“Eichah … How is it possible that she sits in solitude! The city that was great with people has become like a widow… She weeps bitterly in the night and her tear is on her cheek! She has no comforter … her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies…!”

My friends, this exile is so challenging! The pain of living without the Holy Temple is so deep! “G-d is good to those who trust in Him, to the soul that seeks Him. It is good to hope submissively for G-d’s salvation … Let one put his mouth to the dust … there may yet be hope!” (Lamentations 3:25ff)

Let’s not be afraid to weep! “All those who mourn for Jerusalem will merit to witness her joy.” May we merit to witness the complete joy of Jerusalem soon in our days!

 

Recent Posts


Tags

Banias secret Solomon Galil meraglim Leah Western World Magog Creator Midrash Greeks culture kesuba evil inclination Judgement Day Exodus Maccabeans Mordechai Judah Yerushalayim paradise fault Chanukah Dead Sea Passover Seder three weeks fragrance missiles Day of Atonement tabernacle stones Song of Songs blessing Jews seder Tisha b'Av minyan soul Shavuos kiddush Benjamin Chol haMoed King Solomon Elul heaven Rachel Passover Moshiach Rabbis Jewish festival Purim Children of Israel compassion Adam keys terror Holy land Rosh Hashanah tears yarmulke Zohar Abrahem Yaakov priests Amalek Babylonia Moshe survival eternal Laban Solar eclipse Sukkos Baku sin Sodom idol leprosy repent Ammon tremors Holocaust tablets Rome Day of Judgement Chafetz Chaim G-d Jewish holidays Sabbath India Moshaich Esther trees alone Boaz Mount Zion Jewish kinneret spiritual resurrection holiday Shechina synagogue Rosh Hashana angel Sephardi exile Earth danger Samuel pain Mount Hermon evolution shmittah Western Wall violence Ishmeal locusts Avraham automobiles Hagar Chofetz Chaim barley spies Land of Israel Bais Hamikdosh plague Eve End of Days peace commandment media Sefiras haOmer messiah moon America miracles Israel Hasmoneans redeemer Europe Sarah Second Temple Lunar eclipse Ashkenazi Balak heavenly throne Hashem Blame Protective edge prophets Shabbos war Holiness Geula Moses Talmud murder liberation Beit Hamikdash Teshuva shofar Father in Heaven cries prayer judgement heavenly gates Genesis Garden of Eden light evil 2020 Vision High Priest Maimonides sun prayers Jeremiah Parsha persecution Bilaam salvation Holy Ark world to come Lot fires Final redemption Hebrew enemies Edom Matriarchs shield of Abraham siddur Golden Calf King David Egypt Ezekiel Chanukkah redemption slaves Rabbi Akiva King of the Universe logic Red Heifer Miraglim Achashveirosh earthquake mikveh mitzva patriarchs'matriarchs Miriam Tallis High Holy Days Gog terrorism Master of the Universe Jew Zechariah king Sukkah Macabees Prophecy patriarchs rain Torah New Moon terrorist Noah Sea of Galilee Angel of Death Joseph Sages Haman matzos terrorists Golus Torah portion darkness Golan fear Terror Attack in Jerusalem Moab sacrifices angels United Nations prophet Samuel rosh chodesh water Tu b'Av Tzuk etan Rebecca Divine presence prophet Zion, Angel Ishmael Mount Sinai forefathers night spirituality purity Ishamael Temple Mount song Aharon dreams Holy Temple God Torah scholars ethics mikveh, Sabbath Esau deluge Psalm stars kosher Red Sea Pinchas Repentence Canaan death repentance Nation of Israel Judaism mitzvos holy self-worship hubris Rebbe Eglon Tu b'Shvat chessed biblical menorah Heavenly Mercy cholent Matisyahu Psalms lights Yom Kippur Babylon sanctity gossip ancestors Tefillin flood bible esrog Faith brotherhood Ten Commandments materialism Shushan idolatry Malbim incense chaos creation bird Jacob Ruth Rashi Jewish People Amram Jerusalem rabbi Temple bris milah Samuel the Prophet prayer book Pharaoh yeshiva Raiders of the Lost Ark David miracle eternity pray Isaiah Abraham slavery Isaac Zion

Archive