That’s Amazing!

Each year when we experience our Seders, it is inevitable that our minds shift into a reflective mode of Seders of years gone by; who was in attendance, how it was conducted, what was served, which tunes were sung and which insights were shared.

My Father o.b.m. ran a majestic Seder and we follow his lead. During the recitation of the Hagadah I repeated certain timeless insights that he had shared with us.

One of them was when the Hagada quotes the Torah verses that are associated with a Jew’s declaration when he presented his Bikurim, first fruits to the Kohain in the Temple. The presenter of Bikurim recalls what occurred in Egypt. “The Egyptians afflicted us and imposed hard labor upon us and we cried out to G-d, and G-d heard our cry and saw our affliction and He took us out of Egypt with an outstretched arm and awesome wonders.”

My father would quote the Netziv o.b.m. who points out that the Torah does not say G-d listened to our prayers. Rather, He listened to the cries and moans of our ancestors – without them even enunciating any words. When the Jews directed their plight toward G-d in hope for salvation, G-d heard their unspoken prayer and responded.

My father pointed out that when one is brought to tears, if he channels them toward G-d for His help – G-d responds to them, and it’s a most potent form of prayer!

When I related this at the Seder I shared an amazing story that appears in an Artscroll book recently authored by Rabbi Yechiel Spero.

During the final years of Yankel Malach’s mother’s illness, he spent a lot of time at his aunt’s home. Yankel, an intuitive 5-year-old, knew that something was wrong but could not put his finger on it. To be on the safe side, whenever he left his house to stay at his aunt’s home, he would first say good night to his mother.

The sad day came when the young mother left the world; the family felt Yankel was too young to be taken to the funeral.

The night after the funeral, still unaware of what happened, Yankel planned on continuing his routine of saying good night to his mother…

No matter how hard the family tried to distract him and cajole him to go to his aunt, he became more insistent on saying good night to his mother. He desperately began searching the house, running frantically from room to room crying out Mommy! Mommy! Please stop hiding!

Finally, a loving family member picked Yankel up and carried him to the waiting car to go to his aunt’s home so he could calm down and accept the reality.

Later that night, Yankel’s older sister Yocheved sat next to her father and asked him, “How can it be that such heart wrenching cries would not cause Hashem to bring Mommy back to life so she can say good night to Yankel?”

Her father Pinchas Menachem was an elevated Jew with sincere trust in the Almighty answered; My dear daughter, do you think for a moment that Yankel’s crying was in vain? Do you think Hashem takes our tears and throws them in the garbage? Believe me, all his tears will accomplish something. I am telling you, our tears are never in vain!

Fast forward 19 years later, and Yankel got married and two months later, he mentioned to his wife that his family had planned a get together that evening to commemorate his mother’s Yahrtzait. His wife turned to him somewhat disappointedly and said, tonight is my Hebrew birthday and I was hoping we could celebrate together with a special dinner, but it can certainly wait until tomorrow.

Yankel heard her response and began to think. How fascinating; his wife’s birthday is the same day as his mother’s Yahrtzait. Then it dawned upon him that not only was she born on the same day, she was born the same year that his mother passed away!

Yankel immediately called his sister Yocheved and told her the concurrence of his wife’s birthday and their mother’s Yahrtzait and her birth happening in the same year. His sister nearly dropped the phone as she vividly recalled Yankel’s hysterical screaming ‘Mommy! Mommy! Where are you?’ She further remembered her father’s words to her, “Tears do not go to waste, we don’t cry for nothing.”

Yocheved asked Yankel if his wife could look at her birth certificate to check to see what time of the day she was born. She checked and… it was precisely at the moment of Yankel’s hysterical cries!

No tears or prayers to G-d are ignored, discarded or dismissed!