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Joseph interprets Pharaoh's Dream (Genesis 41:15–41). Of the biblical figures in Judaism, Joseph is customarily called the Tzadik.
Joseph interprets Pharaoh's Dream (Genesis 41:15–41). Of the biblical figures in Judaism, Joseph is customarily called the Tzadik.

Tzadik (Hebrew: צַדִּיק [tsaˈdik], "righteous [one]", also zadik, ṣaddîq or sadiq; pl. tzadikim [tsadiˈkim] צדיקיםṣadiqim) is a title in Judaism given to people considered righteous, such as biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is -d-q (צדקtsedek), which means "justice" or "righteousness". When applied to a righteous woman, the term is inflected as tzadika/tzaddikot.

Tzadik is also the root of the word tzedakah ('charity', literally 'righteousness'). The term tzadik "righteous", and its associated meanings, developed in rabbinic thought from its Talmudic contrast with hasid ("pious" honorific), to its exploration in ethical literature, and its esoteric spiritualisation in Kabbalah.

Since the late 17th century, in Hasidic Judaism, the institution of the mystical tzadik as a divine channel assumed central importance, combining popularization of (hands-on) Jewish mysticism with social movement for the first time.[1] Adapting former Kabbalistic theosophical terminology, Hasidic philosophy internalised mystical experience, emphasising devekut attachment to its Rebbe leadership, who embody and channel the Divine flow of blessing to the world.[2]

Etymology

Ṣedeq in Canaanite religion may have been an epithet of a god of the Jebusites.[3] The Hebrew word appears in the biblical names Melchizedek, Adonizedek, and Zadok, the high priest of David.

Nature of the Tzadik

Definitions

In classic Jewish thought, there are various definitions of a tzadik. According to Maimonides (based on Tractate Yevamot of the Babylonian Talmud 49b-50a): "One whose merit surpasses his iniquity is a tzadik".[4]

According to Shneur Zalman of Liadi's Tanya, a work of Hasidic Judaism, the true title of tzadik denotes a spiritual description of the soul. Its true meaning can only be applied to one who has completely sublimated their natural "animal" or "vital" soul inclinations into holiness, so that they experience only love and awe of God, without material temptations. Hence, a tzadik serves as a vehicle (מרכבה merkavah)[5] to God and has no ego or self-consciousness. Note that a person cannot attain such a level, rather it is granted from on High (or born with, etc.).[6] This select level elevates the "Intermediate" person (beinoni) into one who never sins in thought, speech or action. Unlike the Tzadik, they only experience divine devekut (communion) during devoted moments of worship or study, while in mundane life they can be tempted by natural inclinations, but always choose to stay connected to holiness. In the Tanya[7] the difference between the former Talmudic-Maimonidean and latter Kabbalistic-Hasidic conceptions is raised. Since the "Torah has 70 facets" of interpretation, perhaps both conceptions are metaphysically true:

As for what is written in the Zohar III, p.231: He whose sins are few is classed as a "righteous man who suffers", this is the query of Rav Hamnuna to Elijah. But according to Elijah's answer, ibid., the explanation of a "righteous man who suffers" is as stated in Raaya Mehemna on Mishpatim, which is given above. (Distinguishing 2 levels of Tzadik: The "righteous who prospers"-literally "good to him" is interpreted to mean that the natural soul in him has become "his own-transformed to good". The "righteous who suffers"-literally "bad to him" is interpreted to mean that his natural soul still exists in his unconscious, but is nullified to his Divine soul, "the bad-is under him") And the Torah has seventy facets. (So the reason for the question)[citation needed]

Tzadikim Nistarim

Moses speaks to the children of Israel
Moses speaks to the children of Israel

The Talmud says that at least 36 Tzadikim Nistarim (anonymous tzadikim) are living among us in all times;[8] they are anonymous, and it is for their sake alone that the world is not destroyed.[9] The Talmud and the Kabbalah offer various ideas about the nature and role of these 36 tzadikim. In Jewish folklore they are called lamedvovniks, from the gematria numerical value for 36. In Hasidic Judaism, with its social institution of the Tzadik in the central role of the community, the 36 may not necessarily be unknown, therefore. However, a Hasidic aphorism describes a known Rebbe Tzadik as being among the 36, as their true greatness could be concealed beyond the perception of their devoted followers.

Tzaddik of the Generation

Main article: Messiah in Judaism

Hasidim adhere to the belief that there is a person born each generation with the potential to become Messiah, if the Jewish people warrant his coming. This candidate is known as the Tzadik Ha-Dor, meaning Tzaddik of the Generation.

Miracle workers

See also: Baal Shem and Practical Kabbalah

While tzadik status, according to its above definitions, is not necessarily related to the ability to perform or call upon miracles, the term tzadik is often used loosely by the Talmud to indicate those who have achieved especially outstanding piety and holiness. In this context, the tzadik's prayers are considered especially potent, as the Talmud states: "A tzadik decrees and the Holy One (blessed be He) fulfills." This is line with the Talmudic dictum: Rabban Gamliel the son of Rabbi Judah haNasi used to say: "Make His Will your own will, that He make your will as His Will."[10]

In some contexts, people refer specifically to the pious miracle worker as a tzadik. In Hasidism, the doctrine of "Practical Tzadikism", developed by Elimelech of Lizhensk, involved the Tzadik performing miracles to channel the Ayin-Yesh Divine blessing. In its most extreme version, Hasidic "wonder-workers", predominant in 19th century Poland, emphasised this conception, sometimes criticised by other Hasidic leaders as superficial. To Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, and his reaction against Popular Tzadikism, the greatest miracle was to examine oneself without self-delusion.

Historical sources

Based on the teachings of Isaac Luria, the Baal Shem Tov and the Chaim ibn Attar, Shneur Zalman of Liadi taught in the name of the Zohar that "He who breathed life into man, breathed from Himself." Therefore, one's soul comes from the essence of God.

According to Kabbalah, a tzadik, because they have completely nullified themselves and their desires to what God wants, their Godly soul (which like every Godly soul is part of God) is revealed within them more than other people who have not completely nullified themselves to God. This concept is based upon many Jewish sources. Here are some:

Terminology in Kabbalah

Identification with Yesod

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Correspondences; Yesod-Foundation: 9th sefirah, Tzadik, Covenant, channels Heaven to 10th sefirah: Kingship, Earth, Shekhinah, Israelites.
Correspondences; Yesod-Foundation: 9th sefirah, Tzadik, Covenant, channels Heaven to 10th sefirah: Kingship, Earth, Shekhinah, Israelites.

"..For all that is in Heaven and on Earth.."[20]
"-For all כל (Yesod) joins the Heaven and the Earth"[21]
"The Tzadik is the foundation (Yesod) of the World"[22]

In the system of 10 Sephirot Divine emanations in Kabbalah, each of the 7 emotional expressions is related to an archetypal figure in the Hebrew Bible. The first emanated realm to emerge from God's potential Will in Creation is Atziluth, the World of "Emanation". As it is still nullified to Divinity, so not yet considered a self-aware existence, it is the realm where the 10 Sephirot attributes of God are revealed in their essence. In lower spiritual worlds the sephirot also shine, but only in successively lower degrees, concealed through successive contractions and veilings of the Divine vitality. Seven biblical tzadikim, righteous figures are considered as embodiments of the emotional sephirot of Atzilut: Abraham-Kindness, Isaac-Restraint, Jacob-Mercy, Moses-Endurance, Aaron-Glory, Joseph-Foundation, David-Kingship. While all seven figures are considered supreme Tzadikim, in particular contexts, either Joseph as Yesod, and Moses as inclusive soul of the community, are identified especially as archetypes for the Tzadik in general.

In the sephirot, Chesed-Abraham, Gevurah-Isaac and Tiferet-Jacob are higher spiritual powers than Yesod-Joseph, which channels the higher powers to their fulfilment in Malchut action. However, traditionally in Judaism, Joseph is referred to with the quality of "Tzadik-Righteous". While the Patriarchs lived righteously as shepherds, Joseph remained holy in Egypt, surrounded by impurity, tested by Potiphar's wife, captive in prison, and then active as viceroy to Pharaoh. As the Heavenly sephirah of Yesod-"Foundation" channels spirituality to our physical realm, so in Kabbalah and the further development in Hasidic thought, its function also parallels the human role of the Tzadik in this world:

Intellect in the supernal soul of the community

"..To love the Lord your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him.."[24]
"Cleaving to a Torah scholar is as cleaving to the Divine Shechinah"[25]

The leaders of Israel over the masses stem from the intellect of Adam's soul[26]
"In every generation there is a leader like Moses"

Breslov Hasidut

...the Rebbe (Nachman of Breslov) must have intended that we go there for Rosh HaShanah, continually, until the arrival of the Mashiach. The Rebbe himself said that the Evil had glorified many false leaders, making it extremely difficult to find where Moses is - the true Tzaddik. You should know, my friend, that this is the reason we have come here: to join our precious heritage with a bond that will last every day of our lives

— Nathan of Breslov[citation needed]

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov explained how only a true leader can awaken the most genuine Jewish faith: this leader is the Tzadik.[citation needed]

Variants as first names

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Tzadik in Hasidism

The Hasidic development of the tzadik combined the former roles of private mystic and social Maggid into communal mystical-leadership. Hasidic thought internalised the Ayin-Yesh Heavenly duality of Kabbalah into a complete paradigm for Deveikut perception of Divine Omnipresence. The Hasidic tzadik embodied this as a channel for the Divine flow.[citation needed]
The Hasidic development of the tzadik combined the former roles of private mystic and social Maggid into communal mystical-leadership. Hasidic thought internalised the Ayin-Yesh Heavenly duality of Kabbalah into a complete paradigm for Deveikut perception of Divine Omnipresence. The Hasidic tzadik embodied this as a channel for the Divine flow.[citation needed]

See also: Ayin and Yesh

See also

References

This article uncritically uses texts from within a religion or faith system without referring to secondary sources that critically analyze them. Please help improve this article by adding references to reliable secondary sources, with multiple points of view. (March 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
  1. ^ The Zaddik: The Interrelationship between religious Doctrine and Social Organization by Immanuel Etkes, in Hasidism Reappraised edited by Ada Rapoport-Albert, Littman.
  2. ^ God and the Zaddik as the two focal points of Hasidic worship Ada Rapoport-Albert, in Essential Papers on Hasidism edited by Gershon Hundert, NYU Press 1991
  3. ^ Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, s.v. ""Sedeq", Melchizedek".
  4. ^ Mishneh Torah, Sefer Madda, Laws of Repentance 3:1
  5. ^ Tanya ch.23
  6. ^ Tanya, ch. 27
  7. ^ Tanya, Chapter 1 footnote
  8. ^ Sanhedrin 97b; Sukkah 45b.
  9. ^ The Kohanim represent the tzaddikim who "eat to satiate their souls" (Book of Proverbs 13: 25). Not only can they elevate the material world to the spiritual, but they draw spirituality into the material world as well (Likutey Halakhot III)
  10. ^ Avot, 2:4
  11. ^ "Jerusalem Talmud Eruvin 5:1:4". www.sefaria.org. Retrieved 15 July 2022.
  12. ^ Ki Sisa, 33:7
  13. ^ Jeremiah, 23:6.
  14. ^ Bach on the Tur, Orach Chaim, 47
  15. ^ Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 1, ch. 4
  16. ^ Mesillas Yesharim, ch. 26
  17. ^ Marbitzei Torah U'Mussar, sec. 3, p. 10
  18. ^ Likutei Sichos, Vol 2, pp. 510-511.
  19. ^ 2:38a.
  20. ^ I Chronicles 29:11. The verse mentions all the emotional Sefirot. Yesod is alluded to by these words
  21. ^ Zohar I:31a, II:116a, III:257a
  22. ^ Proverbs 10:25, as interpreted in the terminology of the Sefirot
  23. ^ Sefer Yetzirah 1:7
  24. ^ Deuteronomy 30:20
  25. ^ Paraphrase of Talmud Ketubot 111b
  26. ^ Kabbalistic conception, emphasised by Isaac Luria, discussed in Tanya I:2

Sources