Day 36 – Chesed in the Tzaddik
“A “flaming chesed” is the tzaddik’s light.”
Rabbi Avraham Chachamovits
The quality of chesed has ‘nothing before it.’ The tzaddik, like Abraham, pro-actively goes out to the people:
The one who is compelled out of inner restraint to become a rabbi, not for authority, but servitude, is sanctified. He is sanctified because his role of leadership does not come from any ulterior motive, but from an inner constraint, which he cannot halt and which turns his life, whether he wants it thus or not, into a path of hardship and suffering and endless responsibility. The zaddik understands the words of Amos which he spoke when he tried to explain to others why he became a prophet. “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son, but I was a herdman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said unto me: “Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.
‘The Zaddik,’ Samuel Dresner p. 145
Abraham, the model of chesed, exemplified this quality – going forward without restraint (gevurah):
Abraham … is the symbol of the true leader, the zaddik. … His entire life was a constant wandering. He left the seclusion of his home and the security of his country, to go from land o land, seeking to bring to others the vision which exploded in his own soul. He could not contain it. for it was not for him alone.
‘The Zaddik,’ Samuel Dresner p. 152
One aspect of Chesed, found in the power of the tzaddik, is to heal the sick:
“It is rules that whosoever has trouble or a sick person in his house, should go to a sage to have him invoke G-d’s mercy for him. This is why we find throughout the Talmud and Midrashim that tzaddikim have always been approached to pray for children, the sick and troubled … This power of the tzaddikim obviously is not an independent, personal power. It derives from their special attachment to G-d.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p. 91
So great is the power of the tzaddik that healing can extend to those simply near him:
“Indeed even looking at a tzaddik has tremendous positive effects and is of great spiritual significance … sick people would be cured just by looking at Abraham.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p. 98
The connection made available through the tzaddik even extends past the his death. The Talmud tells how when Caleb was on his way with the spies Moses sent, he separated himself from the others and went to the Cave of Machpelah to visit the graves of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There he prayed to G-d, and he asked the souls of these tzaddikim to arouse G-d’s mercy, so that G-d would save him from becoming involved in the rebellion that would be led by the other spies.
“Caleb held aloof from the plan of the spies and went and prostrated himself upon the graves of the patriarchs, saying to them, “My fathers, pray on my behalf that I may be delivered from the plan of the spies.” (As for Joshua, Moses had already prayed on his behalf; as it is said: And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua, meaning, May Yah save thee from the plan of the spies. That is the intention of what is written: But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him.”
Talmud, Sotah 34b