353. Rabbi Yitzchak said, There are three subjects here, a sigh, a cry, a wail, and each one is different from the other. THEY ARE NOT SIMILAR TO EACH OTHER. "Sigh" as it is written, "And the children of Yisrael sighed" (Shemot 2:23); "wail," as written, "And they wailed" (Ibid.); and "cry" as it is written, "And their cry went up to Hashem." Each one is explained individually, and Yisrael did all of them. Rabbi Yehuda said, Yisrael did cry and wail, but they did not sigh! This is implied from what is written, "And they sighed," INSTEAD OF USING THE REFLEXIVE VERB, as there was sighing for them from above.
354. HE ASKS, How are wailing and crying different? Rabbi Yitzchak said, There is no crying, except in prayer! As written, "Hear my prayer, Hashem, and give ear to my cry" (Tehilim 39:13), AND SO, "But to You have I cried, Hashem" (Tehilim 88:14) and, "I cried to You and You have healed me" (Tehilim 30:3). SO WE SEE THAT "CRY" MEANS WORDS OF PRAYER, and "wailing" means wailing without saying anything, MEANING WITHOUT WORDS. Rabbi Yehuda said, Wailing is therefore greater than all of them, because wailing is in the heart. This is written, "Their heart wailed to Adonai" (Eichah 2:18). Wailing and crying out in prayer are closer to the Holy One, blessed be He, than prayer and sighing, for it is written, "And they wail to Me, I will surely hear their wail!" (Shemot 22:22).
355. Rabbi B'rechyah said, The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Samuel, "I regret that I have set up Saul to be king" (II Shmuel 15:11). It is written, "It grieved Samuel, and he wailed to Hashem all night" (Ibid.). He forsook everything, MEANING SIGHING AND CRYING, and took to bewailing because it is closer to the Holy One, blessed be He, than all of them. This is what is written, "And now, behold the wail of the children of Yisrael have come before Me" (Shemot 3:9).
356. The sages taught that it is considered a complete prayer in the heart when one prays and weeps and wails until he can no longer move his lips. It never returns empty, but rather is accepted. Rabbi Yehuda said, Wailing has great value, for it tears the decreed judgment of a person from all his days.
357. Rabbi Yitzchak said, Wailing is of great value for it has power over the attribute of Judgment above. Rabbi Yosi said, Wailing is of great value for it has power in this world and in the World to Come. Because of wailing, a person acquires this world and the World to Come, as is written, "They wailed to Hashem in their distress. He delivered them from their afflictions" (Tehilim 107:6).