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Shabbat Parashat Bereishit 5781

Ein Ayah: Unique Tears

(based on Ein Ayah, Shabbat 13:5)

Gemara: Whoever sheds tears for a worthy person has Hashem count [the tears] and place them in His storage houses, as the pasuk says: “My being emotionally moved You counted, You placed my tears in Your flask, indeed in Your place of accounting” (Tehillim 56:9).


Ein Ayah: There is a powerful feeling that impacts the spirit when one comes to terms with the absence of a worthy person. While the fact that a good person is lost from the land makes one general impression, the emotion that surrounds the pain is connected to many specific impacts related to appreciation of a worthy life. That is because throughout one’s life, he finds value in different elements of a properly lived life, and this is expressed in the pain he feels at the time of a friend’s death.  

The more basic, singular view of the emotion is seen by the human emotional eye, which sees only the surface and feels only that which sticks out. However, the “divine eye” sees every hidden matter, counts every step, and appraises every thought. Hashem knows to “count” every element that is included in the pain that possesses the heart of one who appreciates a worthy life that is now gone. This is what Hashem does when someone sheds a tear for the deceased.       

A person experiences emotions in a relatively fleeting manner. The impact of the emotional pain must pass. However, the power that caused the temporary outbreak of emotion to the extent that one shed tears for the worthy person is not fleeting, but is a permanent thing which comes to the fore only when jolted by the death. Hashem is in touch with that permanent element of one’s soul and does not treat it as fleeting, even though its visible expression is such, but as something whose character does not change with time.

That is why Hashem does not measure the tears by volume like a normal liquid, in which each drop becomes an indiscernible part of a pool of liquid. Rather, Hashem counts the tears. The smallest shade of value in a pure Jewish life, of the type that make others appreciate it, is considered an independent, protected entity. Even though the human emotion does and must move on, the fact that it was powerful for a moment, at the time one comes to grips with the loss, comes from a permanent appreciation of good life. Therefore, Hashem keeps it permanently in His storage houses. You, Hashem, who know all hidden matters, counted the foundations of the spirit that caused the pain of loss of something valuable, in this case, a precious life that lived on earth among people.

The psalmist asks to put his personal tear in Hashem’s flask; it is there that the tear can be significant, as there its identity is not lost when it joins with other of its type, nor is there a loss to the most delicate emotion that caused the tear. Rather each one is counted, and it is kept in Hashem’s special mode of accounting. Because the counting of the one-time tear is connected to a permanent appreciation in the heart of the beholder of the good person, it is preserved in Hashem’s storage houses, which means for eternity, and it is “in Your accounting.”

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