The Far-reaching Cry

The group that sat huddled together on some makeshift stools, in their regular spot behind a junkyard, was a typical sight in that particular rundown neighborhood. The discussion was extremely typical; everyone was raising tough financial issues they all shared and identified with. Every few seconds, a sigh escaped from one of them. They each had so many reasons to sigh, as the struggle for basic sustenance was their common lot.
Suddenly, a fellow neighbor joined them, his hands waiving in excitement. He was eager to share some good news. The local government was planning to allocate a certain sum to improve their district and benefit their economic situation. Voices were raised in agitation as everyone realized the import of the good tidings. If they did not jump at the opportunity, the funds would be allocated to other, more central regions. That day, a collective cry erupted from behind that junkyard, but it did not stop there. Unlike their previous useless sighing and moaning, this cry was an appeal for change, and it finally reached the right ears. Luckily, they received a grant that offered them much reprieve from their suffering.
* * *
There are plenty of reasons why people sigh, complain or cry. The source of distress for one person might be a cause to rejoice for another. It depends on an individual’s perspective and we each have different views on various situations. Our reality takes on different subjective shades and tones, because we have lost clear and objective vision.
We once had real clarity of sight and insight, but we lost it a very long time ago with the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. When we were living in our land and the Bais Hamikdash stood majestically on the Har Habayis, the entire world was illuminated with radiance. The magnificence of the Mikdash encapsulated the beauty of all creation. All nations recognized its inner beauty, not only the Jewish People. Kings and monarchs yearned to bestow their wealth on Yerushalayim and the Bais Hamikdash. The best kind of life existed inside those city walls. Over there, Jews studied Torah with complete peace of mind, with sheer pleasure.
One of the most glorious aspects of the Bais Hamikdash was the quality of vision we experienced and received there. The Bais Hamikdash opened our eyes and granted us a pure vision of all parts of our lives. We were not confused by different shades of reality, because we saw life for what it is. We viewed every situation through the lenses of Emunah (belief) and Bitachon (trust). We recognized Hashem in every situation, in our every motion, emotion and thought. Therefore our da’as, our spiritual perception, was not muddled with trivialities, like who and what bothers me and who causes me trouble, what am I lacking, and what might or might not happen to me. The Mikdash was called “machmad ayneichem” – the treasure of their eyes. The “eyes” refer to Klal Yisroel’s eyes which saw with crystal-clear vision and which focused solely on the ultimate purpose of life. There were no misperceptions, because even the murky areas in life were illuminated with pristine clarity. And when our internal and external reality is so absolutely clear, the real goal in life is the centerpiece that attracts our entire focus.
Cries of Galos
Our life today is a far cry from life revolving around the Bais Hamikdash. The darkness of exile sends us off in search for some kind of light that will give us the right spiritual perception, even today. Rebbi Nachman z”l says (in Lekutei Moharan II: 67) that the brilliant capacity of shining light on others is an attribute of the tzaddikim who are fittingly called “aynei ha’eida”, the eyes of the folk. Similar to the aspect of the Mikdash’s light, the tzaddikim possess the element of enabling each individual to see with clarity, to afford everyone the means to see his goal in life and to reach it.
That explains why the passing of tzaddikim is likened to the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash. Demise of the holy is a form of hastarah, Hashem’s hiddenness from us. In a similar vein, one who does not recognize the importance of the tzaddikim and his connection with them is immersed in terrible darkness. His bond with the “aynei ha’eida” is severed, and he has no way of treading through the murkiness around him; therefore he has trouble finding his way in avodas Hashem. Consequently, he wanders away from kedusah, as it says, “תִּשְׁתַּפֵּכְנָה אַבְנֵי קֹדֶשׁ בְּרֹאשׁ כָּל חוּצוֹת” – “The holy stones were flung outside on all roads” (Eicha 4). The passuk alludes to holiness being cast away, like the holiness of a Jewish soul wandering away from its source.
Crying True Tears
What triggers tears? What causes us sadness? When our eyes do not see what we want and have to see – the light of spirituality – they fill up with tears, at least figuratively speaking if not in the literal sense. Because we do not see the ultimate truth that really counts, we are constantly consumed with worry, depression and disappointment due to all our troubles. This groaning and moaning attitude or feeling is preventing us from seeing the real reality and goal, and this is characteristic of galos – a continuous humdrum existence of frustration and despair.
This kind of crying, a result of blurred spiritual vision, is pointless. Not only does it not get us anywhere, but it can cause spiritual blindness. So we have to be aware of what causes us to cry and to wallow in misery or discontent.
But no, we should not stop crying. Our tears could be priceless jewels, as we know that the tikkun for the churban is crying. Yet the tikkun obviously requires a different kind of crying. We need to cry with purpose. If Galos is defined as blindness, an empty heart and a fuddled perception of reality, then Geula is described as brilliant eyes. And if we cry with the express purpose of reaching the light, then we do not feel the need to cry other kinds of tears.
We are granted light, paradoxically in the darkness, through the highlight of Bein Hameitzarim – Shabbos Chazon. The Shabbos preceding Tisha B’Av is named in reference to the haftorah that speaks of Yeshayahu Hanavi’s prophecy. Chazon is another term for nevu’ah – prophecy; but it is also literally translated as vision, alluding to the quality that a navi possesses. On Shabbos Chazon we receive the capacity to see correctly. We are given the opportunity to untangle ourselves from pointless crying and sighing, so that we can start to see a true image. The true picture of life is beautiful, and it is not at all far from us. Divine treasures are within our reach – we only have to see them. Training our sight requires transforming pointless, hopeless crying into the right kind of crying that expresses hope and yearning
Interestingly, the Hebrew term for mourner – מִתאַבֵּל – is an acronym of the command “לֹֽא תְבַֽעֲרוּ אֵשׁ בְּכֹל מֽשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶם”– “Do not ignite a fire in all your dwellings [on Shabbos]” (Shemos 35:3). Crying over trivialities and staying stuck in one’s frustrations is symbolic of the fire that destroys, the fire of churban. Conversely, a cry that stems from yearning and ratzon brings us closer to redemption.
During these days we ought to cry – the real cry for geula. Real tears have special potency. These teardrops do not dry up or get lost. The right kind of tears will lead us onwards towards the Geula, and with Hashem’s help we will merit to see it with our own eyes.

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