In Tanna Dvei Eliyahu, he cites the words: "שערי דמעות לא ננעלו אפילו על רשעים" – “The gates of tears are never closed even for the wicked.” When Yitzchok told Esav that he gave the berachos of the Bechora to Yaakov, the Torah tells us that Esav screamed out bitterly, “צעקה גדולה ומרה” and asked for another beracha. Yitzchok did not want to give him. Until it says, “And Esav raised up his voice and cried,” he cried 3 genuine tears from his eyes, and only as a result of those 3 tears did Yitzchok give him a beracha.
Similarly, Leah cried and her eyes were always tender with tears. It affected her appearance. One would think that this might affect her shidduch as well. However, the Torah tells us the opposite. Not only did it not damage her shidduch – she ended up marrying a Tzaddik like Yaakov! And when Yaakov was told that Yosef was killed, he cried bitter tears and mourned for 22 years. Not only he cried, but even Yitzchok cried over Yaakov’s loss. These tears were not in vain and Yosef persevered and remained a true Tzaddik.
Rav Matisyahu Salomon shlit’a, Lakewood Mashgiach, tells about the time Rav Yechezkel Abramsky zt”l asked the Brisker Rov zt”l how he was zoche to such good children. The Brisker Rov told him, “Lots of Tehillim and lots of tears – and more tears than Tehillim!”
A certain Rosh Yeshivah once visited Rav Chaim Volozhiner zt”l and asked him why the Volozhin Yeshivah had so much success. “I, too, started a yeshivah, and I don’t have nearly the amount of success that you do.”
Rav Chaim responded, “Tell me, what did you do at the groundbreaking ceremony for your yeshivah?” The Rosh Yeshivah said they had a large seuda with many guests and they had music and much singing and dancing to celebrate the opening.
“That’s the difference,” said Rav Chaim. “At the Chanukas Habayis of Volozhin, I stayed up the entire night before and cried many tears, being mispallel for the hatzlacha of the yeshivah and the talmidim. In the morning, I took these tears and mixed them in with the cement and mortar as they laid the first brick. The success only came through these tears.”
At the Chanukas Habayis ceremony of the Ponovezh Yeshivah, Rav Yosef Kahaneman zt”l had no music or dancing. Instead, he began his speech to the assembled with the worlds, "הזורעים בדמעה ברינה יקצורו" – “Those who sow with tears, will reap with joy.”
Rav Shach zt”l said he heard from his uncle Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer zt”l, that the Netziv said about himself that any day he did not cry by “Ahava Raba” in davening, he was not zoche to come up with chiddushim in Torah.
The Sefer Sharei Aharon brings an amazing story about a bochur from Bnei Brak who decided to join the Israeli army. In his platoon he met and befriended a non-religious boy from Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar. On one occasion, they were given a few days off and the bochur invited his friend to join him in Bnei Brak. The fellow came for the weekend.
On Shabbos morning, the bochur said he was going to shul and asked his friend if he wished to join. The non-religious boy said he did not know what Tefillah was but if you want me to come, why not? He thoroughly enjoyed the davening experience and the next time he came for Shabbos, he eagerly went to shul on his own. After a few more visits, he slowly began to be chozer b’Teshuvah.
The boy’s father lived in Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar and was upset with these developments. He felt he was losing his son to religion. He himself had grown up religious, and even went to the same cheder as the famous Chazon Ish, R’ Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz zt”l, but he had left it all behind and did not want his son going back there.
He traveled to Bnei Brak and walked straight into the home of the Chazon Ish. He introduced himself and told the Chazon Ish that religious Jews were “stealing” his child.
The Chazon Ish replied, “If someone steals, go to the police.”
The man said, “Police? I will do much worse than the police!”
“Really? Like what?”
The father became angry. He said, “Avremel, you know my family. You know how upset my father was when I left Yiddishkeit and how many tears he shed over me. But you see, it didn’t make any difference. I am what I am! Now, I will not lose my son!”
The Chazon Ish stood up and looked the father in his eyes. “Chazal tell us that tears never go to waste! If your father’s tears did not help for his son, it will surely help for his grandson!”
Indeed, the boy became fully religious. When he got engaged, the Chazon Ish advised him to invite his father and honor him at the wedding. He told him to do this for each ensuing simcha that he will make in his life. He did as the Chazon Ish said and the end of the story is that the father eventually was chozer b’Teshuvah.
The power of tears are truly strong ….
By Rabbi Yehuda Reidel
Yeshivah Spring Valley
Rabbi Y. L. Reidel is a Rebbe in Yeshiva of Spring Valley and the Mashgiach of Yeshivas Bais Shraga