Recently, I attended a sheva brachos at which the mother of the kallah spoke. She expressed her tremendous feelings of gratitude to her family and friends and extolled the virtues of her daughter the kallah and her new son-in-law. Then, before concluding, she noted that, during the weeks before the wedding, it had felt strange to be so focused on her simchah when there was and is so much ongoing heartbreak and anguish in klal Yisrael. As she said that, she choked up. Then she looked down and said, “I’m sorry,” and began to cry. After a moment, through tears, she continued by noting the pain of hostages, broken and displaced families, and wounded soldiers. She apologized for her tears twice more.

I found it intriguing that she apologized for her tears three times. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear someone apologize for being overtaken by emotion.

Our society views demonstrating emotion, and particularly tears, as weakness. People like to present themselves as being strong, confident, and like they have everything in life together. Crying is a profoundly vulnerable and intimate expression of one’s inner self. It’s an admission that things are not perfect, and one doesn’t feel completely in control.

Women cry out of a feeling of guilt that they overburdened another with their emotions. They apologize for causing an emotional imposition on the other person. The feeling is that dealing with real emotions and feelings of loneliness and pain are too intrusive and overburdening to push onto another. Most people would rather just use counterfeit intimacy, perpetuated by a quick emoji showing care, albeit from a distance.

Men cry out of a feeling of shame that they appeared weak and unmanly by allowing themselves to appear vulnerable. The message absorbed from early on is that men don’t show emotions. They have to be tough and deal with everything “like a man.”

Although in our world crying is viewed as showing weakness, the Torah has the opposite perspective. We are encouraged to feel the pain of others and to empathize to the extent that we are able. Shedding a tear for the pain of another is virtuous.

The Ponevezher Rav once entered the home of the Chofetz Chaim and became alarmed when he heard piercing cries. The Chofetz Chaim’s wife reassured the Ponevezher Rav that it was nothing out of the ordinary. A woman had been there a few minutes earlier and had shared with the Chofetz Chaim painful details about her life. After she left, the Chofetz Chaim was davening and crying for her.

The beauty of this story isn’t just about the incredible empathy and care that the Chofetz Chaim felt for a Jew he hardly knew. It’s also that we share the story as a value to aspire for.

At the beginning of Parshas Sh’mos, the Torah describes the development of Moshe Rabbeinu into the future leader. Moshe left the comforts of the palace to seek the welfare of his people. When he saw the bitter servitude that they were subjected to, he was crestfallen. The Midrash (Sh’mos 1:27) writes: “Moshe would see their burdens and would cry and say, ‘Woe is me on account of you! If only I could die for your sake.’” Part of the development of our greatest leader was that he cried for his brethren.

We could fill volumes of stories of Jews who cried for each other, and thereby offered a modicum of comfort. If nothing else, those suffering didn’t feel alone.

At the sheva brachos that I attended, the kallah’s mother’s message was the most memorable and meaningful part of the sheva brachos for me. It was genuine and heartfelt, and it was inspiring how deeply she connected to the pain of am Yisrael. It was apparent that many others in the room were likewise moved by her words. Her apology was not only unnecessary, but it was also out of place. At most, she could have said “excuse me” for taking a moment to compose herself. But to remind us of the need to feel each other’s pain, especially that of am Yisrael, an apology is never in order.

I can only say that I’m sorry that anyone would feel the need to apologize for demonstrating empathy with tears.

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, a rebbe at Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, New Jersey, is a parenting consultant and maintains a private practice for adolescents and adults. He is also a member of the administration of Camp Dora Golding for over two decades. Rabbi Staum was a community rabbi for ten years, and has been involved in education as a principal, guidance counselor, and teacher in various yeshivos. Rabbi Staum is a noted author and sought-after lecturer, with hundreds of lectures posted on He has published articles and books about education, parenting, and Torah living in contemporary society. Rabbi Staum can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. His website containing archives of his writings is