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Kinah 25-Kochav miYaakov-The Power of Tears

“Would that my head were water, and my eyes a fountain of tears.” Rav Yaakov Weidenfeld of Tchebin’s one volume of responsa, entitled Kochav MiYaakov, was a mere fraction of the thousands of responsa that he wrote, but which were lost during the two World Wars. Rav Yaakov’s glosses to Seder Taharos and Talmud Yerushalmi were written in one day, as is indicated by their original title, Hagahos Chad Yoma.


Rav Yaakov was known for the intensity with which he would recite Psalms every day. He would be so moved that rivers of tears would flow from his eyes. People would observe him reciting the Psalms and be moved to tears themselves. All were inspired by his great humility.

That humility empowered him to deal with situations that demanded that he act with authority:

There was an elderly scholar in his community, a widower, who saved his deceased wife’s clothing to sell them when he no longer had any way to support himself.

A few houses away, lived a miserly and arrogant man who intimidated everyone in the neighborhood. When the time came for him to marry off his sister-in-law, he decided that rather than purchase clothes for her, he would steal them from the elderly scholar.

When Rav Yaakov heard of this, he stood and declared, “In the merit of all the tears I have shed when reciting Psalms I declare that he who stole these clothes shall immediately return them or they shall be returned after his death!”

The miser ignored the Rabbi. His sister-in-law, a willing participant in the crime, collapsed and died less than a week later. The miser rushed to the Rabbi and returned the stolen clothes. (From the Introduction to Kochav miYaakov)

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