The Gift of Tears by Elissa Felder
Crying is a good thing. Many of us spend a lot of the time doing it on our Momentum Trips. Tears, we are told, are our "souls' sweat."
Tears come from a deep place, and on Momentum Trips, they flow freely and unencumbered. They provide a way to emote and release a lot of otherwise inaccessible feelings. They are cathartic.
The experiences we have on a Momentum Trip are designed to help us touch that deep down part of ourselves that is who we truly are. We touch our souls. We are on the trip because we know what a big job we have as Jewish mothers. As we journey along together, we get a sense of what that means. We connect to each other and to ourselves at a soul level, which triggers powerful responses. Many experience an emotional release, a wellspring, an overflowing of salty tears!
We have been plucked out of our busy lives where we are constantly busy, distracted and scheduled. In Israel, we have no responsibilities, no one needing us or vying for our attention, and nothing to organize or to do. We are free to think, self evaluate, take stock, learn and grow. We are in an environment where we can reflect on the many different roles we have and in what direction we are heading.
We feel safe on a Momentum Trip. We feel safe to cry, to dance, to sing, to listen, to be open, to love, to be loved and to be vulnerable
In this week's Torah portion, we hear about the many times that Joseph cries.
His brothers come to Egypt in need of food since there is a famine in their land. Joseph has been elevated from being a prisoner in Pharaoh's jail to becoming the viceroy in charge of the distribution of stored food. He recognizes his brothers and he reveals himself to them.
"He cried in a loud voice. Egypt heard and Pharaoh's household heard" (Genesis 45; 2).
His weeping was loud and uncontrollable.
Later in the Torah portion, we read about his reunion with his father, Jacob, after 22 years:
"He appeared before him, fell on his neck and he wept on his neck excessively" ( Genesis 46:29).
Again, Joseph cries greatly and continuously.
Tears that express so much. Tears that come from so much pent up emotion, that are so happy and joyous, that are raw and unadulterated.
God gives us the gift of tears. It is very special. Don't be afraid of them. Embrace them. It is a healthy release. It is a way to connect to one's real self, to one's soul.
Deep down, we all have a pool of tears. Perhaps crying means that we have truly tapped into our inner and authentic selves.
The Kabbalists teach us, "Tears open all the gates. Tears reach the Holy King."
Tears are the keys to open the Heavenly gates. When we cry, God listens.
Water is a symbol of life. So perhaps tears are a healthy expression of living life fully and passionately.
We cry when we are sad and mourning losses;
We cry when we are happy and overjoyed;
We cry when we are overwhelmed with emotion;
We cry when we feel compassion and empathy for another;
We cry over life-changing events, like weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, births and deaths;
We cry when we pray.
Joseph shows us how healthy it is to cry. He doesn't miss an opportunity to do so and his tears are an expression of his inner, pent up, buried emotions. Tears are a human response to the magnitude of the emotion he feels. He is overwhelmed.
He cries over his family reuniting; he cries over the lost years; he cries over the sheer emotion of seeing his beloved elderly father again.
Thank God for the ability to cry.
Thank God for being able to access the depths of emotions that are so buried inside our very essence.
Thank God for family and the love we give and receive
I cry over the love I feel for God.
I cry over the love I feel for my family and friends.
I cry over the good and,
I cry over the bad that there is in the world.
I cry for the passionate way with which I love my children.
My blessing is that we should all have more opportunities to access our souls so that we can freely shed healthy, emotion-filled tears. These tears should soften us to love more, to embrace life more passionately, to inspire us to connect more authentically to who we truly are and to become the best people that we can possibly be.
Elissa Felder is a JWRP City Leader with the Providence Community Kollel.