In this beautiful and deeply moving series of short videos from 2008 from the Treblinka death camp, Dr. Marc Gafni tells us the story of Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, Rebbe of Piaseczno, who–after his whole family was killed by the Nazis–kept on teaching and loving and writing down his sermons to his students in the Warsaw Ghetto. When he became aware that the end of the Ghetto and its inhabitants was near, he buried the book in a canister. This canister was found after the end of the war and the book was published in Israel in 1960.
In one of the teachings of this last Polish Hasidic Master–as Dr. Marc tells us here–he asks himself: “What is the internal vibration of the Divine?” In Jeremiah, God speaks: “In the inner places, I cry.” Yet, in another place, it is said that in God’s inner places, there is joy and laughter.
Dr. Marc reminds us here that “in the inner space between the contradictions–that is where God lives.” And he narrates further that the Talmud, in the Tractate Hagigah, states about this: “That is in the inner house. That is in the outer house.”–without telling us which is which. Most Kabbalists read this–like a classical Vedanta, non-dual position–that in the inner places God is not affected by the world. So, in the inner places, God is all joy and laughter.
Not so, the Rebbe of Piaseczno… Read the partial transcript of the story as told by Dr. Marc Gafni:
In the inner places God cries… God’s tears are so infinitely powerful… And God feels the infinite pain of the world… And if that tear would but fall in the outer world, the world would be destroyed. So, in an act of infinite love, God holds the divine tears in the inner house, in order to allow the world the possibility of existence.
And the Rebbe of Piaseczno so loved God that he was willing to enter his own destruction, in order to enter the inner house of the Divine to cry with God…
What is God doing when this happens? God is crying. God’s tears are shedding. And how can you believe in a God who cries? How can you believe in a God who doesn’t cry?
And for me, in my life, at times when I couldn’t find the Divine, when I couldn’t find the sacred energy of joy, the energy that I most naturally live in and love, I was able to find the divine tears. And knowing that God is crying, that God’s power is not only infinite, but God’s pain is infinite, that God suffers in our suffering, and in that place of our suffering we can actually find God, because God is suffering with us. And in that finding of God in the depths of suffering, something falls away, and the ultimate sweetness, the ultimate love is revealed–even in the darkest of places. Because in the suffering itself, God is with us. In the tears themselves, God cries with us.
Let all the tears be healed. Let all pain be transformed to joy. Let all hurt and betrayal be transformed to love.