Cynicism tip-toed its way into my life, a soft pitter patter so quiet that I didn’t realize it was coming until it was already standing at my shoulder.

It was a combination of the end of my youthful naivety,I know that once upon a time I was different life experiences, and a world suddenly turned much smaller with the influx of social media and news-streaming outlets.

I know that once upon a time, I was different. Though never spontaneous, I was filled with a sense of adventure—excited about the little things, optimistic in the face of challenge, and definitely somewhat of a dreamer.

And I was emotional. Emotional in the sense that I allowed myself to feel happiness and sadness, and fear and hope, and wonder and amazement and empathy. It didn’t take much to make me cry—a gene strongly inherited from my mother, who used to joke that she would cry when reading a kids book about a mom falling down the stairs and breaking her leg.

Then, at some point, something changed. I left my teens and early 20s behind, and with them I left behind a life of abandon and blithe.

I retained some of the carefree attitude, but life happened, and challenges arose. I traveled my own bumpy road, saw those near and dear to me hit bumps of their own. Some of them hit mountains that seemed unsurmountable. And as the Internet became a minute-to-minute update of the world around me, I was fed a constant stream of sadness that seemed unbearable in the life of others. I saw pain and heard of war and corruption. The world seemed to become harsh and unpredictable. I feared reading the news and almost lived in a state of semi-breathing, unsure if it was OK to let out air.

Eventually, I developed my own protective measure of defense. I needed something to combat the intense feelings that arose each time I heard or read of something that pulled at my heartstrings. Sharing in the pain of others around me was so draining, so tiring.

So I became numb. It was easier not to think. Not to ponder and discuss and dissect.

Easier not to hope and expect and anticipate.

I tried not to feel, and if I did have to feel, I kept a close tab on reality and tried not to let optimism overweigh the starkness of actuality.

That’s how I felt until one day I realized that it had been some months since I had allowed myself the luxury of crying. Had I forgotten how to cry?

Last Shabbat, I found myself with the incredibleI wondered how I would react when we saw the Kotel experience of meandering my way through the narrow streets of the old city in Jerusalem with my husband. It was a cool morning, in the low 50’s, and the air was thin and light. The cobblestone streets were rough and smooth as only those streets can be, and every turn brought a breath of delight, a sense of wonder. There was something so fresh and pure about the very atmosphere that it tingled along the hairs on my arms and traveled straight inside me through every limb. I was filled with a sense of magic, pride, and gratefulness—all at the same time.

I wondered how I would react when we saw the Kotel. It had been eight years since I was there last. I was 20 at the time, visiting Israel with friends to celebrate the wedding of our good friend. It almost seemed like a lifetime ago. I was so young; I still carried that innocent, glorious expectation for life. So many milestones had been accomplished. My life had been filled with an overabundance of love and joy and wisdom and thankfulness. Yet it had also been witness to the new numbness that had stolen my feelings. I had changed. Time had changed me.

We rounded a corner and lightly ran down the steps to the landing overlooking the Western Wall plaza. There it was, covered partially by new construction that I didn’t remember being there in the past, but still strong and sturdy, the light of the morning sun shining on just the right places, the shadows caressing those nestled against it.

I felt my heartbeat quicken, and we fastened our gait, eager to approach.

We parted ways in the courtyard, and I was pleased to see that only a smattering of people milled around—some praying, some watching, some all the way at the wall, their faces touching the stones and their shoulders shaking with silent cries.

I found a spot right up against the wall and took out a book of Psalms. I was on three different groups praying for the recovery of three different people, all near and close to my heart, and I started whispering the words of the first chapter.

Almost immediately, I felt a familiar pressure mounting in my temples.

A burning behind my eyes.

The quickening of my heartbeat.

And then a lone tear, followed by another and another.

I breathed deeply. I touched the stones, and laid my forehead against them and allowed myself to pray. To hope. To believe. To feel.

To cry.

It was heavy, and it was cleansing. And more than anything, it was coming from a part of myself that was so real and authentic. It was me—feeling the pain of those around me, using that pain to request with a deep, sincere heart from the All-Seeing, All-Feeling.

It was breaking down the barriers of fear inside my heart and allowing for feelings of empathy and love to surface.

Later, I told my friend about my experience at the wall. I described the intensity of the prayer—the way it moved meIt’s good to feel and took up so much of my energy, but allowed me to access so many feelings that had lain dormant.

“It was draining,” I said. “So many feelings. So many emotions. So many people to cry for and ask for. But I felt cleansed and lighter somehow when I was done ... ”

“It’s good to feel,” she responded.

It’s good to feel.

I let the words sink in.

It may be hard, but at the end of the day, it is good to feel.