Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Power of Tears

You Yourself have counted my wanderings in advance, put also my tears into Your vessel; are they not also in Your counting?  (Psalm 56:9).

David HaMelech lauds the power of tears here in the ninth verse of the fifty-sixth Psalm. Rav Shimshon Pinchas explains that the Almighty stores our tears in a special vessel to have them in reserve when we need them; these are tears that had been shed in prayer at other times, but the prayers that accompanied them had not been answered.

We won't always have the opportunity to weep for someone who is sick or who may find themselves in the middle of some other crisis; if we did not have our tears 'in storage,' so to speak, they would not be employed when needed.  But now that the Master of the Universe has placed our tears in His vessel, at His disposal, those tears are often put to use even before we know about the trouble. Therefore, no prayer, and no tear, is in vain.

Why do we cry?  What causes our tears?

In general, we live our lives on a fairly even keel.  When our souls exert extra emotion, however, we begin to cry.  When someone dear to us passes away, we cry.  When we attend the wedding of a loved one, we may cry.   Though in one event the tears are connected with sadness and the other with joy, they both stem from the from the love and connection we feel with the individual.

Interestingly, when tears form in one's eyes, they blur the vision.  In fact, the word b'kiya, crying, is rooted in the expression m'vookah, confusion.  When the questions and confusion of life threaten to overwhelm us, we need just to cry out to Hashem from the depths of our hearts, and He will annul all of our questions - and bring us closer to Him.  The most exalted tears are those shed in our yearning to be close to the Almighty.

"You have counted the days of my wandering (my exile) in advance."  It was not the violence or scheming of men, but Your own providence that put me to the test, says David. The sense of the Hebrew is that G-d has counted out in advance the weeks, the days, and the hours during which we are appointed to endure trouble and trial.  Even the tears of sadness are counted among the trials and tribulations which He has ordained and appointed for us in advance.

It is critical to bear in mind that the days appointed for our suffering and trials will come to an end, and though we may call upon G-d each and every day, we cannot know the day which He has appointed for the end of our troubles.  But we can be certain that day will come, and although others may think that G-d has taken the side of our enemies, we remain confident beyond the shadow of a doubt that G-d allows us to suffer various trials only because He desires our welfare and has our best interests in mind.

Next to an old synagogue, there lived a heretic, who had long ago abandoned the synagogue and the community.  He had many questions and few answers.  He had endured many troubles and trials and blamed the Almighty for his suffering.  Most of the people in the community looked upon the man with derision and contempt.  Thus, instead of coming closer, he drifted farther from the truth. 

One night, the bitter heretic heard crying as he had never heard before.  He was surprised to discover that it was coming from the synagogue.  His curiosity finally got the better of him and he decided to have a peek inside.  What he was about to witness would have a profound effect.  

Standing before the open ark was a young boy.  The cries that poured forth were not sobs of sadness or depression, but cries of yearning and devotion.  The man listened closely, trying to decipher what the boy was saying.  Through the whimpering, he heard the child's painful sobs: "Please, Master of the Universe, forgive me for my sins and help me better understand the Torah that I learn."  Each word that he uttered was accompanied by heaving and sobbing.  The man watched, completely mesmerized.

But then, the boy had one more request: "And please, help the man next door see the wrong of his ways.  Do not let his heart be filled with bitterness and questions.  Help him to repent and turn back to You."  When the troubled fellow heard those sincere cries, his heart melted and he decided right then and there to change his ways.  

David knew that our lives would be fraught with difficulty, frustration, and confusion.  He revealed that one way to find solace, relief, and clarity during those times is through the precious gift of tears. Even when faced with the sternest decrees in the darkest days of our lives, we shall behold the hand of G-d and know that no tear goes to waste.  Are they not in His record?  May they strengthen and encourage us to conduct ourselves before Him with undiminished vigor and clarity of mind and spirit until that glorious day, known only to Him, when there is no more death, mourning, crying, or pain and every tear is wiped from our eyes.    

5 comments:

  1. Great post sir. Very nice. I do know that our tears also tend to contain chemicals in them that are supposedly found nowhere else in our bodies too.

    And that the chemical make up for sad tears is totally different from tears of joy. IIRC, the study that discovered this fact also said that men's tears can be different from women's.

    When you get down to the itty bitty gritty tiny details of our physical make up, it is amazing what is going on in the most "mundane" workings of our bodies isn't it.

    Have you ever watched the DVD series on evolution by Dr. Jobe Martin? He used to be a firm believer in evolution, until after one of his biology classes, he got challenged in his beliefs by a student.

    He started doing research and he found so many inconsistencies that he totally became a creation believer. The nice thing about his series is that he explains things so that even a child in early school years could not only explain creation, but even challenge a teacher's belief in evolution.

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  2. Thanks for the kind words and the reference for Dr. Jobe Martin. I am always looking for more resources to use with my family, so I appreciate the info.

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  3. Rabbi, I could not believe all the stuff that the good doctor covered in those DVD's. Just the talk about giraffes alone is well worth the price.

    When you see the absolute amazing attention to detail explained in full about how God created the world, how on earth could somebody ever believe that we came from sludge, or that the earth just "Big Banged" into existence?

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  4. Rabbi B.
    First time visiting your blog courtesy of Sarah S & Vox. What a delightful stop here on the inter-web highway. I'll visit more often and will share your blog with others.

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  5. Thank you for the kind comment. I have not posted in a while due to a number of commitments and interruptions. I hope to be back to more regular posting in the next couple of weeks or so. Stay tuned and thanks again.

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