Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells us: “The main benefit of crying is when it is motivated by joy. It is even very good when remorse is motivated by joy; when out of great joy in G-d, a person feels remorse and aches greatly over having rebelled against Him in earlier days” (Likutey Moharan I #175).
Rebbe Nachman adds that the word b’chiyah (crying) is an acrostic for “B’shimcha Y’giloon Kol Hayom (In Your Name they rejoice all day long)” (Psalms 89:17). This hints to us that we must temper our crying over tragedies and that our crying should primarily be motivated by joy in Hashem.
Reb Noson explains that crying is an especially propitious means for arousing oneself to better serve G-d. Moreover, crying can move another person and motivate them to want to help the person in distress. Thus, when one cries out to Hashem, they awaken, as it were, a feeling from the Almighty to help them personally or to bring a general salvation to the Jewish people. Hence Rabbi Elazar tells us that even when the gates of prayer are locked, the gates of tears are still open (Berachos 32b).
So, as we transition out of the mournful month of Av and get ready for Elul, let us focus on the myriads of kindnesses Hashem has bestowed upon us. Through this new mindset may we come to true tears of joy and a new awakening for Hashem and His Torah.