1) AGADAH: THE AMORA'IM CRIED WHEN THEY READ CERTAIN VERSES
The Gemara describes how a number of Amora'im would cry when they would read certain verses. Apparently, the verses that so deeply affected each Amora reflected an element of that Amora's own experiences, and that is why he cried.
(a) Rebbi Yochanan cried when he read five particular verses. When he read the verse which describes how Hash-m is persuaded by the Satan, as it were, to afflict a person for no reason (Iyov 2:3), he cried and said, "What can a servant do if his Master is persuaded to afflict him!"
When he reached the verse which says that Hash-m "cannot have faith even in His holy ones" (Iyov 15:15), he cried because the verse implies that Hash-m takes young Talmidei Chachamim from the world so that they will not have a chance to sin when they get older.
The third and fourth verses (Malachi 3:5, Koheles 12:14) at which he cried are verses which imply that Hash-m punishes a person for an inadvertent sin (Shogeg) just as He punishes for an intentional sin (Mezid), and He punishes for a light sin (Kal) just as He punishes for a severe sin (Chamur).
Finally, he cried when he reached the verse which says that Hash-m will punish the people with afflictions that cannot be remedied (Devarim 31:21), because the remedy for one problem intensifies another problem.
Perhaps Rebbi Yochanan was sensitive to these particular verses because of his personal experiences. The Gemara in Berachos (5b) relates that Rebbi Yochanan lost ten sons but did not despair. He accepted the tragedies as Yisurin Shel Ahavah.
1. The verse in Iyov relates that sometimes Hash-m afflicts a person for no apparent reason, when the person has no sins. The afflictions are Yisurin Shel Ahavah, as the Gemara in Berachos there describes.
2. When Rebbi Yochanan read the second verse in Iyov (15:15), he cried because he realized that there might have been another reason why his sons died -- because sometimes Hash-m takes away young Talmidei Chachamim in their youth so that they will not have an opportunity to sour later.
3. Rebbi Yochanan further justified the afflictions he suffered by pointing out that Hash-m judges great people by a higher standard. Consequently, great people sometimes are punished very harshly for inadvertent (Shogeg) or light (Kal) transgressions, as though the act was an intentional (Mezid) or severe (Chamur) transgression (as described in Ta'anis 8a and Bava Kama 50a).
4. Rebbi Yochanan cried when he reached the verse which speaks of the "evils which will be many and difficult" (Devarim 31:21). He explained that the verse refers to evils which "complement each other" in that the remedy for one affliction is the cause for another (see Rashi, Tosfos). This verse caused him to cry because he understood that his afflictions came about because of Bitul Torah; the Gemara in Berachos (5a) says, "If one cannot find a specific cause for his afflictions, he may assume that they are due to Bitul Torah." However, his affliction involved becoming a mourner for the loss of his sons. Since a mourner is prohibited from learning Torah, Rebbi Yochanan was unable to rectify his "misdeed" of Bitul Torah. Hence, his affliction served to reinforce his deficiency.
(b) Similarly, the other Amora'im who cried upon reading certain verses may have been affected by those verses because of their personal experiences. Rav Huna cried when he read the verse which describes how Hash-m once yearned to see the Jewish people come to Yerushalayim for the festival (Shemos 23:17), and the verse which describes Hash-m's disgust at them after they sinned, "Who asked you to trample My courtyard!" (Yeshayah 1:12). Similarly, he cried when he reached the verse which says that Hash-m once yearned for His servant (the Jewish people) to eat upon His table (to offer Korbanos upon the Mizbe'ach), and now He rejects them (Yeshayah 1:11).
Perhaps Rav Huna was especially sensitive to these verses because of the incident recorded in Berachos (5b). The Gemara relates that 400 barrels of Rav Huna's wine went sour, and the Rabanan had to come to comfort him. Rav Huna was very wealthy (Moed Katan 28a) and he used his money for Mitzvos and Tzedakah. When his entire inventory went bad, he watched as Hash-m not only took away his business, but impoverished him. He exclaimed that until that time, he had used his wealth to provide for Talmidei Chachamim. Providing for Talmidei Chachamim is akin to offering Korbanos (Berachos 10b). Now, however, Hash-m has taken everything away from him, as if to say that He does not want Rav Huna to serve Him anymore.
(c) Rebbi Elazar cried when he read verses which discuss the exactitude of Hash-m's justice (Bereishis 45:3, Shmuel I 28:15). The Gemara in Ta'anis (25a) relates that Rebbi Elazar suffered from extreme poverty. He accepted Hash-m's judgment and declared that Hash-m's treatment of him was just, and that no one can fathom the justice of Hash-m.
(d) Rav Yosef cried when he reached the verse, "Yesh Nispeh b'Lo Mishpat" (Mishlei 13:23), which teaches that sometimes a person's life is cut short prematurely and his remaining years are granted to a Talmid Chacham who is humble and does not stand up for his rights. The Gemara in Nedarim (41a) relates that Rav Yosef became mortally ill, blind, and forgot all of his learning. This may have occurred twenty-two years before his death, at the time that the Chaldeans predicted that he would die (Berachos 64a).
The Gemara in Berachos (ibid.) says that when it was time to appoint a new Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Yosef deferred to Rabah and gave him the position. That act qualified him as a Talmid Chacham who acts with humility and does not stand up for his rights. Rav Yosef understood that the reason he recovered from his illness and lived for another twenty-two years was because Hash-m had given him the years of someone who had died prematurely (as described in the Gemara here) in reward for his trait of humility. (M. KORNFELD)
2) AGADAH: HASH-M CRIES FOR THREE PEOPLE
QUESTION: The Gemara says that Hash-m cries for three people every day: a person who is able to learn Torah but does not learn, a person who is unable to involve himself in learning Torah but does so anyway, and a community leader who acts haughtily over his members.
Why is this discussion cited here? It seems entirely unrelated to the other discussions in the Sugya.
Moreover, how do the Chachamim know that Hash-m cries for these three people? What is their source?
Finally, why does He cry for a person who is unable to learn Torah but does anyway? If the person is unable to learn, what does the Gemara mean when it says that he learns anyway?
ANSWER: The Gemara earlier quotes a verse in Yirmeyahu (13:17) which mentions that Hash-m cried three tears. The Gemara explains that the first tear was for the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, the second tear was for the destruction of the second Beis ha'Mikdash, and the third tear was for the Jewish people who were sent into exile.
The preceding verse in Yirmeyahu reads, "Even if you do not hear it, My soul cries in private places because of the pride." The Gemara here understands that verse to be saying that Hash-m cries three tears because of the three points mentioned in that verse.
"Even if you do not hear it" refers to the tears He cries when He does not hear a person learn Torah when he is able to learn.
The second phrase in that verse says, "My soul cries in private." This refers to Hash-m's tear for one who cannot learn Torah but learns anyway. He cannot learn because of the persecution of the nations and their decrees against learning Torah. As a result of those decrees, one who learns must do so clandestinely. "My soul cries in private" -- Hash-m cries for those who learn Torah in private because they are not permitted to learn Torah in public. Hash-m does not cry because He is upset at the person, but because His mercy is aroused for the person. (This is the meaning of the expression, "My soul cries.")
Alternatively, "one who is unable to learn but does anyway" does not refer to one who learns Torah in secret due to the persecution of the nations, but rather it refers to a person who speaks Lashon ha'Ra. The verse in Tehilim (50:16) teaches that when a person speaks Lashon ha'Ra he has no right to learn Hash-m's Torah (see also Sanhedrin 106b). Since he uses his mouth for the profane purpose of Lashon ha'Ra, he is not entitled to use his mouth for the holy purpose of learning Torah. Accordingly, "My soul cries in private" means that Hash-m cries for the person who sins in private by speaking Lashon ha'Ra (which is called a "Davar sheb'Chashai," a sin committed in private; see Yoma 44a). Hash-m cries because although such a person has the ability to learn Torah, he is not permitted to learn because he speaks Lashon ha'Ra.
The third cry is for the leader who extorts his people. The verse alludes to this when it says, "My soul cries... because of the pride," a reference to the haughtiness of the arrogant leader.
These three sins were the cause for the three tragedies for which Hash-m sheds tears: the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, the destruction of the second Beis ha'Mikdash, and the exile. The Gemara in Bava Metzia (85a) teaches that the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash was due to Bitul Torah ("they did not recite the blessing before learning Torah"). This corresponds to "those who are able to learn Torah but do not" (see Bava Metzia 85a).
The second Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed because of Lashon ha'Ra (see Gitin 56a and the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza). At that time, many evil decrees were passed against learning Torah (as described in Berachos 61a).
Subsequently, the Jews suffered exile after exile due to leaders who acted haughtily over their flocks. (M. KORNFELD)