The Focus of Tears
Yesterday was Yom Kippur, so I took a digital fast. I love Yom Kippur, especially the Kol Nidre service at night. I always cry when our rabbi sings the opening prayer because you hear his entire heart being sung into the words.
So it was fitting that on Yom Kippur Day, he began his sermon by asking us to turn to someone sitting near by, introduce ourselves, and tell them the last time we cried. We turned around to the couple behind us. The man informed us that he didn’t know the last time he cried, and he implied that he never cried. The woman told us that she cried inwardly when the rabbi asked us to talk about crying because it was just something she didn’t do. And then I informed them that while I hadn’t yet cried that day, I probably would. And I had definitely cried the day before.
“Why?” the couple asked.
“I don’t know. I often cry when I’m reading a book and something strikes me as sad. I’m reading a book now that is making me cry a lot. I cry at movies. I cry because something is moving.”
“You cried last night,” Josh reminded me. “When you were talking about the death penalty with the kids in the car.”
“Oh,” I said, brightly. “Yes, I cried then. And I cried when the rabbi sang Kol Nidre.”
And then five minutes later, I cried during part of his sermon when he talked about his kids growing up.
I loved his sermon because it was about looking long and hard at the things that move you to cry instead of trying to suppress the urge to weep. That crying is a good indicator that the triggering event is something important to us. And yes, he spoke very specifically about crying and infertility because the Torah portions back at Rosh HaShanah were both about infertility.
And his point: you cry with infertility because you want children to parent so badly. And that it’s not only okay to cry but that we should cry because crying is an extension of how deeply our heart longs for our infertility to be resolved or for our children to arrive. He told us that crying is a form of prayer, perhaps the deepest, most intense form of prayer, because we are laying our heart bare. Our tears are saying, this is really really really important to me.
Have I mentioned how much I love my rabbi?
Sometimes when he talks, I start crying because he speaks so deeply to my personal truth. He has this magical ability to dig around in congregant hearts and make everyone walk out of shul still mulling over what they found in there.
So when was the last time you cried? And what was it that moved you to tears?