- ''For the Hebrew letter "Tzadik", see Tsade.
Tzadik (צדיק, "righteous one;" pl. tzadikim) is a title which is generally given to those who are considered to be righteous such as a spiritual master or rebbe. The root of the word tzadik, is tzedek (צדק), which means justice or righteousness. This term thus refers to one who acts righteously.
In Arabic the word/name "saddiq" (صادق), has a similar meaning. The title of Voltaire's satirical novel Zadig also stems from this root.
Characteristics of a tzadik
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
. According to the Tanya
(based on passages in Tanach
and the Talmud
), the true title of tzadik
can only be applied to one who not only never sins, but also has eradicated any inclination to do so.
The Tzadik Nistar or lamedvovnik
The Talmud says that at least 36 Tzadikim Nistarim -- anonymous tzadikim -- are living among us at all times; they are anonymous, and it is for their sake alone that the world is not destroyed. The Talmud and the Kabbalah offer various ideas about the nature and role of these 36 tzadikim.
While the 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.
In some contexts, people refer specifically to the pious miracle-worker as a tzadik. According to the Baal Shem Tov, it is said, this ability is attainable for every Jew. It is told that he stated that every Jew has the power to cross a river atop a handkerchief, through connecting with their soul (which is divine in origin).
Becoming a tzadik
According to the first definition above, that a tzadik is "one whose merit surpasses his iniquity," every person can reach this level. According to the definition of the Tanya that a Tzadik has no evil inclination, only a select few predestined to attain this level can attain it.
The relationship between God and a tzadik
Based on the teachings of Rabbi Isaac Luria
, the Baal Shem Tov
and the Ohr ha-Chaim
, Rabbi 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 he has completely nullified himself and his desires to what God wants, his Godly soul (which like every Godly soul is part of God) is revealed within him more than other people who have not completely nullified themselves to God. However, all of the sources below do not believe in the Tzadik being like God, as this belief is incompatible with Judaism.
This concept is based upon many Jewish sources. Here are some:
- The Zohar: "Et pnei Ha'adon YHWH - do Rashbi" (Lit., "The Countenance of the Lord YHWH - this is [a reference to] Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.")
- The Jerusalem Talmud "All the standing that the prophet Elijah did before his teacher Achiya Hashiloni, were as if standing before the Shekhinah." And this is explained in Yesod HaAvoda in the name of the Radbaz, "This was because Achiya had his mind and thoughts connected and cleaved to the greatness of the holy one, and Elijah when he stood before his teacher connected his thoughts with the thoughts of his teacher with the love from his heart, and therefore it was as if he stood in front of the Shekhinah"
- Bahya ben Asher comments on the verse "And Moses took the tent and pitched it for himself outside the camp, distancing [it] from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting, and it would be that anyone seeking the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp." saying that "From here we see that Moses was called with the Tetragrammaton, and we also find that Jacob is called with El...And we also find by the name of a Tzadik that he is called with the Tetragrammaton...And we also find that by King Messiah that he is called with the Tetragrammaton as it is stated and this is his name that he shall be called, The Lord is our righteousness...And the reason by all of them is because one who cleaves to something, is called by the thing which he is cleaving to."
- Yoel Sirkis "The purpose of The Blessed One was always that one should be involved in Torah in order to bond our souls in the essence and spirituality and holiness of the source of the giver of the Torah...And if one is involved in Torah study with this intention, one becomes a Markavah and Heichal for the Shekhinah may he be blessed, so that the Shekhinah is literally within them, because they are a Heichal to God and within them literally the Shekhinah establishes its dwelling place."
- Chaim Volozhin "If someone sanctifies himself properly through the performance of all the Mitzvot...Then he himself is the Beit HaMikdash itself...Because this is the truth regarding Tzadikim through the deeds which are desirable by the blessed one they are the Mikdash mamash"
- Moshe Chaim Luzzatto "The holy one who cleaves constantly to God and his soul fires up with true intellectual understanding with great love of his creator and fear...Behold a person like this, he himself, is considered to be like the Tabernacle Beit HaMikdash and the Mizbeiach...And also it is said regarding Tzadikim they are the Markavah, because the Shekhinah dwells in them just like it dwelled in the Beit HaMikdash."
- Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler "And this thing is so much certain to one that thinks in depth about it, until it is impossible to understand how someone can argue on it, and so was already mentioned in the words of many of the great scholars like the Ramchal and others, that the image of Tzadikim is Hashem may he be blessed, himself, and they are the same"
- In 1951 the seventh Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson said a similar statement regarding the practice by Hasidim to have a Rebbe act as an intermediary with God on their behalf. He explained, "The Rebbe is completely connected with his Hasidim, not like two separate things that connect, rather they become completely one. And the Rebbe is not an intermediary which separates rather he is one that connects. Therefore by a Hassid, he with the Rebbe with God are all one...Therefore one can not ask a question about an intermediary since this is the essence of God Himself, as He has clothed Himself in a human body"
- Frumer, Assaf. Kol Hanikra Bishmi (Hebrew)
- Lessons In Tanya
- Pevzner, Avraham. Al HaTzadikim (Hebrew). Kfar Chabad. 1991