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The Music of Halacha: Kinah 25: Crying I

“Would that my head were water and my eye a fount of flowing tears.” (Based on Jeremiah 8:23) [See Kinah 25 – Was It All Worth It?]

An interesting Responsum of the Radbaz (#985) concerns a great scholar who lost a son but did not shed a single tear. Is such a stoical attitude reprehensible or is it to be commended?

He replies: This is an evil trait demonstrating hard-heartedness and a bad character. This cruel attitude is that of the philosophers who say that this world is vanity, a huge joke…But we who have received the Torah must believe and appreciate that this world is very precious to those who use it properly and who conduct themselves in a fitting manner.

It is through the way he behaves in this life that man attains to the World To Come and to immortality, for this world is called the world of deeds. Consequently, we must never treat it as vanity, attributing its sorrows to the poor way it is governed and complaining about the woes of temporal existence, as the majority of poets have done. Man should rather mourn for his own bad deeds.

One who weeps, mourns and sheds tears over the loss of his relatives, how much more over the death of the righteous, follows in the footsteps of the saints, the prophets and the men of good deeds. It points to purity of soul and submission to man’s Maker. Man, when confronted with tragedy, should grieve for his sins that brought it upon him.

It is not for nothing that the Rabbis, of blessed memory, rule that the first three days after the death of a relative are for weeping, seven days for mourning, and thirty days for abstaining from washing clothes and cutting the hair.It it were not a good thing, they would hardly have prescribed it for three days.

Abraham, Jacob, and David wept when they lost a relative.

Consult the work of Torat Ha-Adam by Nachmanides, of blessed memory, and you find enough to answer your question.

Nevertheless, it is not proper to mourn too much over the death of a relative, as the Talmud says.

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