(Torah Portion Shlach) Weep No More!
Years ago, I came home to find my wife Malki crying on the couch. Startled and bracing myself for sad news I came over and she pointed to a book she was reading. Needless to say it was a real tear jerker.
I recall telling her that at such moments she should utilize the power of her tears to effectively pray for someone in need or for something she needs.
A short while later, during a class I was presenting on the topic of prayer, I related this story. The main reaction of those participating in the class was a desire to know the title of the book. (Okay… it was “The Notebook.”)
Apparently every so often people feel that a good cry is worthwhile and beneficial.
Tears are precious.
We can see this clearly in an incident related in this week’s portion. Before the Jews entered the Land of Israel they requested from Moshe to send spies into the land to check it out. G-d allowed them the freedom of choice to send spies although it was against His wishes.
Ten out of the twelve spies that went returned with a bad and discouraging report. Their negativity and scare tactic proved effective and the Torah tells us that the nation began to cry.
This pained G-d and He proclaimed, “On this day, the ninth day of Av, you cried tears of naught over entering into the land. In years to come, I will give you a real reason to cry, when both Temples in Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Babylonians and then by the Romans.”
The Talmud tells us that although there are times when certain ‘gates’ in heaven may be closed, the ‘gate’ through which sincere tears pass are never closed.
Rebbe Simcha of Pishischer asked, If the gates of tears are never closed, why are there gates in the first place? He answers that the gates are there to block insincere tears from entering.
Prayers accompanied by tears are very effective. It is interesting that the Torah and Haftorah portions that we read on the two days of Rosh Hashana all reference G-d responding to tears that were shed.
When the son of Hagar the maidservant of Avraham was deathly ill, the Torah relates that she raised her voice and cried.
When Avraham was ready to offer his son Yitzchok as a sacrifice at the behest of G-d, the Medrash relates that Avraham, Yitzchok and the angels were crying.
When the prophetess Chana was barren with no children, she cried.
Finally, Jeremiah the prophet describes how our matriarch Rachel weeps for her children that they should return to the Land of Israel after their exile. Of all the great people who petition G-d, He will listen to Rachel’s cries because of the self-sacrifice she exhibited during her life.
I read a poignant story related by Rabbi Chaim Zeitchek that illustrates how prayers accompanied by tears are extremely potent.
A dejected woman once approached a pious sage weeping bitterly that her daughter, an only child, was lying in a coma barely clinging to life.
The sage assured the woman that he will pray for her daughter. He secluded himself in a room and took out a book of Tehilim – Psalms and wept for the recovery of the sick girl.
Upon completion of his prayers, the sage sent the woman a bottle of liquid with instructions to drip the liquid into her daughter’s mouth until she opened her eyes.
To her mother’s surprise and delight, after a few drops, her daughter woke up from her unconscious state.
When the sage was asked as to what the secret of his cure was. He responded, “It was not water or any kind of medicine. Rather, the bottle contained the tears I shed while praying for the sick girl. The tears of my eyes together with the ache of my heart healed the child.”
The Talmud relates that G-d sheds tears as well. His tears are over the destruction of the two Temples, and over our exile which cause his children not to study the Torah.
King David in Psalms states, “Place my tears in Your flask.” The Talmud derives from this that it is meritorious to shed tears over the loss of a worthy man. The tears shed for him are not forgotten, and G-d counts and safeguards them in His treasure room.
In fact, the commentator, Mahari Pinto, explains that G-d preserves these holy tears because they will become the fresh dew which He will use to revive the dead at the time of resurrection!
The Prophet Isaiah tells us, there will come a time when, “(G-d) will remove death forever, and G-d Almighty will erase all tears from all faces.”
This will come at the time when Moshiach comes, when there will be no more suffering, no more war, and no more grief.
This is something for us to yearn for, hope for and to pray for!
Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks