Monday, November 5, 2007

Guest Post by Nossie Gross on Public vs. Private Grieving

Nossie Gross, from Zemer Orchestras in Baltimore, has written a guest post that I am posting below, reflecting on the ideas of public vs. private expressions of grief that A Simple Jew and I were discussing in our Q & A. He cites the Gemara in Chagiga 5b. You can see the text and translation in a bit larger form if you click on the picture above.

-Dixie Yid

Dear Dixie Yid,

Regarding your discussion about displaying sorrow, here
is an important source. The Gemara in Chagiga 5b describes Hashem’s display of
sorrow as being only in the inner chambers – while in the outer chambers there
is only strength and joy. I attached a pdf with the original gemara and an
approximate translation in case anyone would benefit from it.

I was at
the shiva of a great Rav/Rebbe here in Baltimore – Rav Amram Taub. He was an
amazing man with a smile that would light up a room. Joy was always on his face.
His face did not show the tragedies that he suffered in the Holacaust where he
lost his wife and all his children or the great suffering he had here in America
–losing his 2nd wife and raising his children alone and then losing a daughter
at a young age.

His children told us that he would say that a man’s face
is a “Reshus Harabim” – a public domain. Maybe he was referring to the concept
in this gemara. Hashem is not putting on a happy face in the outer chambers –
there is real joy. Hashem is not faking the sadness in the inner chambers – it’s
real tears. There can be what to cry about and at the same time great reason for
joy. For some reason – it seems that the place for the joy is where everyone can
see it – and the place for the sorrow is in private. This is not necessarily
referring to a levaya or shiva, where an outward display of joy seems
inappropriate, but it seems like very relevant concept nonetheless. Maybe the
sorrow is only in the inner chambers because while the sorrow and joy are both
real and may both be true – the one we need to spread to others is the joy.

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A Simple Jew said...

However, from what is written above, maybe expressing grief internally is reserved only for Hashem and for leaders of Klal Yisroel and not for the simple folk.

I am not sure...only a thought.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

That definitely sounds like a valid point. What I wrote also is more applicable to people in leadership positions.

For everyone else, I might chalk up people who don't display emotion at times of grief to either shock or a different personality than me.

-Dixie Yid