As an intellectual exercise, it is not difficult to imagine the totality of the world’s pain.
But as long as it remains on the intellectual plane, it does not constitute an emotional experience.
For this reason, many scholars speak of the expectation that when we suffer personal pain, we will comprehend and feel it as part of the cosmic pain.
The same principle applies to prayer.
When we pray for mercy for ourselves and our loved ones, we should view our suffering (and theirs) as part of this cosmic pain, which is the pain of the Divine Presence, the pain of the collective soul of the world.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz