It’s so hard for us to imagine being in touch with somebody who is in another world… but for the rebbes, the Holy Masters, it was another thing altogether. For them, from this world to the upper realms was so close, so close… Before Reb Yitzchak Vorker left this world, he promised his son that he would contact him from heaven and tell him how things were for him in Gan Eden. But four weeks passed, and his son didn’t hear from him. He couldn’t understand what was going on, so he went to his father’s best friend, Reb Menachem Mendel of Kotsk, and said: “Rebbe, I’m so worried about my holy father. He promised to come back and speak to me, if only in a dream. But it’s been four weeks, and I haven’t heard anything from him. Do you think something could have happened to him in Heaven?”
And the Kotzker answered. “The truth is that your father also promised me to come back and tell me what happened to him in the World Above. And I got worried when I didn’t hear from him. So I went up to Heaven to look for him.
“Let me tell you what happened: I went everywhere in Heaven searching for your father. I went to the palaces of all the tzaddikim, all the holy people – of Rashi, the Rambam, Rabbi Akiva. I visited the place of the prophets, and even went to the very highest levels– to Moshe Rabbeinu and our holy fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Everywhere I went, I said, ‘I’m looking for my friend, the exalted Reb Yitzchak Vorker. Have you seen him?’
And they all told me, ‘Yes he was here. But he didn’t stay. He went on…’
I didn’t know what to do, where else to go. So finally I asked the angels, ‘Have you seen the holy Reb Yitzchak Vorker? Do you know where he went?’
And this time I got an answer, the angels told me, ‘If you keep going in this direction you’ll come to a thick dark forest. You must pass through it, and when the forest ends at a sea, that’s where you’ll find him.’
So I kept walking through Heaven, and as the angels had said, I soon came to the darkest, most forbidding forest I had ever seen in my life. I wanted to run away. I started to hear a strange sound.
Finally I came out of the trees, and found myself on the shore of the sea, anocean so big I couldn’t see the other side. And I realized that the sound I’d been hearing was coming from the waves. But it was not the sound that waves usually make… it was more like a wail, a moan, a scream – full of the most desperate pain. Never in my life had I heard waves crying and begging like this… And there at the edge of the ocean, I saw your father, the holy Vorker. He was leaning on his staff, staring at the sea. He never took his eyes off the water.
I ran toward him, ‘Reb Yitzchak, my holy friend, what is this place? What are you doing here?’ He turned towards me, ‘Ah Mendel, don’t you recognize this ocean?’
‘No, what is it? What’s that sound? What’s going on here?’
‘Mendel, let me tell you…this is the Ocean of Tears, the sea of Jewish tears. I want you to know that every tear is so precious to the Master of the World. God takes all the tears and places them here. And there were so many tears – that they formed this huge ocean… When I came here and heard the sound of the waves, the cry of all the suffering of so many, I can’t tell you how much it broke my heart. And at that moment I made a sacred vow: “Master of the World, I swear to you by Your Holy Name that I will not move from this place until You have mercy on your people, until you turn all the pain to joy.”
‘My dear friend,’ said the holy Rebbe, ‘I will never leave this Ocean until God has wiped away all of the tears.’ ”
(Lamed Vav, Tzlotana Barbara Midlo, 2004, p.369)