Question & Answer With MCAryeh - Tears
A Simple Jew asks:
Before Neilah on Yom Kippur at the shul I used to daven, the rabbi would tell us about the importance of shedding tears during this last prayer of the day. Year after year I tried and tried, but my eyes always remained dry.
It hasn't been until very recently that I have found that I have been able shed tears during hisbodedus, and I do not know exactly what to attribute this to.
Have you found as you get older tears now come to your eyes easier than when you were younger?
MCAryeh of A Whispering Soul answers:
Good question! It is very situational for me. When it is natural, such as in the case of a funeral, a birth, hitbodedut, tears flow easily. When forced, as in trying to induce tears for neilah, it is difficult to impossible for me to cry. I have had that problem with Tisha B'Av for years now. It has always bothered me that I cannot cry on cue over the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, and even that I cannot cry over not being able to cry.
By nature, I am very attuned to my emotions, but part of that includes recognizing where my feelings are coming from and checking them for emes. With age, of course, there are more things to cry over, both out of joy and sadness, there are more life-events to trigger emotions, and there is a greater comfortability with the vulnerability of tears.
Now that I am in my 30s, I do find it easier to tap into the built up experiences that will trigger tears, especially when communicating with HaShem from my own heart, with my own voice. When trying to induce tears during prescribed prayers, however, I still struggle. I have to trust that HaShem will sense my sincerity and that tears, for me, at that point, would be insincere. The bottom line for me is about genuineness of feeling. If I want to induce tears for something I don't feel, I will have to start cutting onions.
Maybe it is enough that I am able to cry to HaShem in my own prayers to Him, but it does bother me that a movie can move me to tears, as can a passage in a novel, so why not the prayers set down by our Sages in the Yom Kippur service?