“It happened during those many days, that the king of Egypt died and the Children of Israel groaned from the work and they cried out. Their cry for help from the oppression rose up to G-d.”
Rav Chayim ibn Attar also known as the Ohr HaChayim, says the following:
The meaning of, the Children of Israel groaned “from the work,” is not that they cried out in prayer to the Almighty to save them, but rather, that they cried out from the agony of the harsh labor, like a person who howls because of his pain. The posuk then informs us that that outcry went up before Hashem. This is the point of its later statement.
Which later statement?
“And I, too, have heard the groan of the children of Israel…”
Ohr HaChayim says, “We can further explain what [the posuk] means with, ‘Their outcry from the work went up,’ based on that which is stated: ‘From the straits, I called upon G-d; G-d answered me with expansiveness.’ This teaches that one of the prayers that are readily accepted by Hashem is a prayer that is uttered out of distress (‘from the straits’); and so, it is stated elsewhere: ‘I called, in my distress, to Hashem and He answered me.’ That is the point of [the posuk’s] statement, ‘their outcry from the work went up to G-d’; it means that they prayed and their prayer went up to G-d and was accepted by Him because it came from the distress caused by the hardship of the work.”
Similarly, Rabbeinu Bachayei writes the following:
“Even though the time of the redemption had arrived, they weren’t worthy of being redeemed. However, once they all cried out in unison from the work that they were undergoing, their tefillos were accepted… This is to teach you that the tefillah of a person is only complete when one cries out from the pain and stress that are contained within one’s heart. This type of tefillah is more accepted by Hashem then mere lip service.”
Was there any time that crying was ineffective?
Indeed, we find in Parshas Vayigash that Yosef fell upon his brother Benyamin’s neck and wept; and Benyamin wept upon his neck. Rashi explains this to mean that Yosef wept over the two Batei Mikdashos that were destined to be in Benyamin’s territory and were destined to be destroyed. Benyamin wept over the Mishkan of Shiloh, which was destined to be in Yosef’s territory and was destined to be destroyed.
In Parshas Beshalach: “Egypt was journeying after them and… the Children of Israel cried out to Hashem.” Moshe tells us to calm down by stating, “Do not fear! Stand fast and see the salvation of Hashem that He will perform for you today… Hashem will do battle for you and you shall remain silent.” Then Hashem catches Moshe “red-handed” and says to him, “Why do you cry out to Me?” Why did G-d ask him such a question? What else was Moshe supposed to do?
Imagine a child falls and cuts himself badly. The mother comes into the room and frantically tells her husband to call an ambulance. Instead of calling an ambulance the father goes to the shelf, pulls out a Tehillim starts davening with tears pouring down his face. His wife says to him, “Unless you are a descendent of Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai or a Kabbalist, GET ON THE PHONE AND CALL AN AMBULANCE NOW!”
Rashi explains, “Moshe was standing and praying. The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Moshe, ‘Now is not the time to prolong prayer for Yisrael is in distress and immediate action must be taken.’” As the next posuk says, “Speak to the Bnei Yisrael and let them journey!”
In Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Indiana stands in a small opening, just small enough for his shoulders to squeeze through and beyond that a 100-foot drop to the rocks below and 100 feet across, nothing but a rough, stony cliff wall.
He can see nowhere to cross. He looks again to the v-rail Diary.
“The path of the flood. Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth.”
Indiana looks around and then he notices that inscribed on the rock above his head is the head of a lion.
Impossible! Nobody can jump this!
Indiana looks down into the Diary and tortures over what it is asking him to do. He realizes, “It’s… a leap of faith.” Henry calls to him, “You must believe, boy. You must… believe.”
He leaps into space. He is in midair. He is not going to make it. His hands claw for the opposite wall, but he is going to fall 100 feet to his death. And then – he doesn’t! He appears to be held up by thin air as he lands on his hands and knees.
Indiana looks around and down and now he figures it out.
Ingeniously, the First Crusaders have painted a pathway to align with the rocks 100 feet below. It is a perfect forced perspective image of the rocks below with lines from a hundred feet continuing six feet below his sight line where his feet are stepping.
It’s painted to blend in with the rocks below. Highly evolved camouflage… in perfect alignment with everything, we see below.
When Indiana leans out to the left or right… that’s when he sees the perfect alignment shift that betrays the trick. Indy throws some dirt on the bridge and he crosses it like the first Crusader from the painting over Henry’s desk.
Indiana crawls through a small opening in the side of the cliff and enters a Temple.
Rashi explains, “There is nothing to do but travel, for the sea does not stand as a barrier before them. The merit of their forefathers and of themselves and the faith they had in Me when they went out of Egypt are sufficient to split the sea for them.”
Who jumped into the sea? Nachshon ben Aminadav, the prince of the tribe of Yehudah, leaped forward and descended into the sea first… Why? He still ruled with G-d, i.e. he had faith in the Holy One, Blessed is He…”
Nachshon ben Aminadav teaches us a fundamental in life:
Faith in Hashem determines our reality.
In Parshas Shelach: “The entire assembly raised up and issued its voice; the people wept that night.” To which the Gemara states, “Rabbah said in the name of Rebbe Yocḥanan: That night was the night of the Ninth of Av. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to them: You wept needlessly that night, and I will, therefore, establish for you a true tragedy over which there will be weeping in future generations.”
Even though they cried out in unison, it was for no purpose. Whereas in Egypt, they cried out in unison from the work that they were undergoing.
The word, וַיִּזְעָקוּ is referring to many people crying. Is this the first time we hear about crying in the Torah? Where else do we find individuals crying? In Seifer Bereishis:
“When Eisav heard his father’s words, וַיִּצְעַק צְעָקָה גְּדֹלָה, he cried out an exceedingly great and bitter cry…” R’ Yitzchak derives this posuk that the redemption of Israel depends only on crying.
In Seifer Shemos there are eight pesukim that contain the word וַיִּצְעַק:
“וַיִּצְעַק מֹשֶׁה, Moshe cried out to Hashem concerning the frogs that he had inflicted upon Pharaoh. וַיַּעַשׂ השם כִּדְבַר מֹשֶׁה וַיָּמֻתוּ הַצְפַרְדְּעִים, Hashem carried out the word of Moshe and the frogs died…”
“וַיִּצְעַק אֶל־השם, He cried out to Hashem and Hashem showed him a tree; he threw it into the water and the water became sweet.”
“וַיִּצְעַק מֹשֶׁה, Moshe cried out to Hashem saying, ‘What shall I do for this people? A bit more and they will stone me!’” Hashem said to Moshe, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Yisrael and in your hand take your staff with which you struck the River and go.”
“You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan… If you [dare to] cause him pain…! – כִּי אִם־צָעֹק יִצְעַק אֵלַי שָׁמֹעַ אֶשְׁמַע צַעֲקָתוֹ, for if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry.” My wrath shall blaze and I shall kill you by the sword and your wives will be widows and your children orphans.”
“If you take your fellow’s garment as security until sunset shall you return it to him. For it alone is his clothing, it is his garment for his skin – in what should he lie down? – וְהָיָה כִּי־יִצְעַק אֵלַי, so it will be that if he cried to Me, I shall listen, for I am compassionate.”
Finally, the last time וַיִּצְעַק is mentioned in the Torah is in Seifer Bamidbar:
“וַיִּצְעַק הָעָם, the people cried out, to Moshe; וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל מֹשֶׁה, Moshe prayed to Hashem and the fire died down.”
Why does the posuk first state, “The people cried out” and then say, “Moshe prayed”?
As Rabbeinu Bachayei told us earlier, “The tefillah of a person is only complete when one cries out from the pain and stress that are contained within one’s heart…” Furthermore, the Gemara states that from the day that the Beis HaMikdosh was destroyed, the ‘gates of tefillah’ was closed. Still, the ‘gates of tears’ were never closed.
Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai gives us a very deep approach to tears:
“Tears are an expression of sadness and sorrow. The celestial beings appointed over the gate of tears break down all the iron locks and bars and let these tears pass through. The prayers of the afflicted penetrate and reach the holy King… Thus, the prayers of the afflicted person do not return to him empty, and the Holy One takes pity on him. Blessed is the man who in his prayers sheds tears before the Holy One.” In fact, crying out in prayer is beneficial for a person because it has the effect (i.e. power) to reverse a decree.
There are two types of crying. One is vocally and the other is with tears.
If that’s the case, why don’t we cry to Hashem?
Both children and adults, want to think of themselves as macho. Even if they’re undergoing mental anguish, they’d rather bottle themselves up, then express their emotions to others or even our Creator! They believe crying is showing a sign of weakness or maybe that’s what America has brainwashed us to think. In the words Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l: “Most of us are – and forgive my expression – emotionally constipated.”
Next time you have a real difficulty go into a room and shut off the light. Then do the following:
- Thank Hashem with enthusiasm for everything that you have in life.
- The harder part: Thank Him with enthusiasm for all the difficulties that you have and realize without these challenges you wouldn’t be the spiritually accomplished person that you are TODAY without them!
If tears are cascading down your face while thanking Hashem, you may have changed your predicament in heaven!
The posuk says, “And I, too, have heard the groan of the children of Israel…”
The statement [of the posuk], “and I too, have heard,” means that aside from the fact that [the Jewish people] prayed to the Attribute of Mercy and aside from the love that Hashem has for the Patriarchs and their covenant with Him to redeem their children (as explained in the previous posuk), there is a third element in Hashem’s decision to redeem the Jewish people at this time. This is that Hashem hastened the redemption due to their cries alone (i.e., even without any prayers), which came from the pain of the enslavement, that is, Hashem heard the sound of their cries of intense pain and had mercy on them.
May we all cry out to Hashem, instead of trying to bottle up our soul’s emotions and merit to experience our own personal redemption!
Dedicated in memory of Rivka bas Rav Eliyahu, Shlomo Avraham Moshe ben Yechezkeil Yosef, Rochel bas Menachem Mendel Boruch, Eliyahu ben Mordechai, Mashah Tzivyah bas R’ Shlomo Zalman, Altah Soshah Devorah bas Aryeh Leibush, Chaim ben Shmuel Efraim Zalman, Tuvyah Shlomo ben Naftali Tzvi HaKohein, Leah bas Leib Yehudah, Esther Perel bas R’ Shlomo, Miriam bas Zelig Shaul, Menachem ben Shimon, Menachem ben Zev, Sarah bas HaRav Yisroel, Zushe Yosef ben Shmuel Tzvi, Yosef ben Moshe HaLevi and all the other departed souls of our nation.
For the complete recovery of Chayah Malka bas Bas-Sheva, among the other sick ones of our nation.
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