Day 41

Week 6: The Middot and the Tzaddik

Day 41 – Yesod in the Tzaddik

Yesod is the attribute of attachment. The tzaddik as a close connection to G-d. By connecting with the tzaddik in faith, one can bring themselves closer to G-d.

“This is the tzadik who is able to join and bind together all worlds. As he himself is bound up with G-d on the one hand, and with the worlds on the other, he joins them all to Divinity. Thus he is the intermediary between them, the channel or funnel that serves as the passageway in both directions.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p. 108

The tzaddik is seen as a ‘ladder’ between earth and heaven, specifically the ‘Sulam Yaacov’ – ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ as read about in Genesis 28.

“Attachment to the tzaddik is a most significant principle. It helps man ascend on the ladder of piety and holiness to his preordained goal of attachment to G-d (Gen.28:12; Jn.1:51). It offers man concrete means to remain forever aware of ultimate reality, of his ultimate nature and purpose in life. The tzaddik is a physician of the soul, providing both preventative and therapeutic medicine for man’s soul.”
Hilchot De’ot 2:1; Shemonah Perakim, ch.3

“The tzadik is like the ladder in Jacob’s dream, of which it is said, ‘Ascended and descended on it.’ For just as he is able to bring down the effluence and to extend it, so he is able to cause his whole generation to ascend.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p. 106

The tzaddik is compared to the Temple in terms of function, regarding helping make the connection.

“The Talmud discusses the following verse from the Torah: “You should attach yourself to Him, [i.e., to G-d],” and asks, “How can one attach oneself to G-d? G-d is compared to fire, so how can you attach yourself to fire?”  It is explained there that the way to become connected to G-d is by attaching and connecting oneself to a tzaddik. Connecting to a tzaddik is neither “un-Jewish” nor a spiritual luxury for a select group of truth seekers; on the contrary, it is the only method prescribed by the Torah to become truly connected to G-d. This idea — commonly thought to be the exclusive domain of chassidic teachings and practice — is a basic principle outlined in the Talmud, the ultimate authority of Jewish law. Nevertheless, the question still remains: Why should a Jew place so much importance on a human being of flesh and blood? Why should such a large part of his Jewish practice focus on being connected to a tzaddik? Why not just focus directly on G-d? … This can be explained with a powerful statement from the Talmud which states that the passing of a tzaddik is equivalent to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash: The fast of the fifth (month) refers to Tishah B’Av, for on that date the house of our G-d was burned. The fast of the seventh (month) refers to the third of Tishrei, for on that date, Gedaliah Ben Achikam was assassinated…. The [latter] day is included here to teach you that the death of the righteous is equivalent to the burning of the house of our G-d. It is an obvious deduction that if the passing of a tzaddik is like the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, then the life of the tzaddik must also be similar to the purpose and function of the Beis HaMikdash.”
“A Tzaddik and His Students: The Rebbe-Chassid Relationship,” Rabbi Shloma Majeski

Because of all this, attachment to a tzaddik is seen as a way of connecting to G-d:

“Little wonder then, that the torah makes attachment to tzaddikim a religious obligation by ordaining ‘cleave unto G-d’ (Deut 11:22): How is it possible to say that? But you cleave unto the sages and it will be accounted to you as though you cleave to Him.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p.95

This intimacy between the tzaddik and G-d results in many ‘godlike’ attributes and names being associated with the tzaddik.

“The stature of tzaddikim is thus seen to be extraordinarily sublime. They are on the highest level of perfection attainable to created entities, superior even to that of ministering angels … they sanctify themselves in the Divine Holiness and in turn Divine holiness attaches itself to them. They are altogether holy. Their body is holy. Their neshama is holy of holies and ruach hakodesh rests upon them in this world and in the next.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p.100

“The bond which we seek to create with the Tzaddik is a spiritual one. In this sense, it is like the bond each Jew wants to create between himself and G-d.”
Crossing the Narrow Bridge, Chaim Kramer, p. 328

“Whatever is attached to something can be referred to by that which it is attached to. A messenger is this referred to by the name of the one who sent him. This applies to the tzaddikim.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p.101

In a very powerful way, the tzaddik is closely associated with both Moses and the messiah:

“They believed in G-d and Moses (Exodus 14:31). If they believed Moses, surely they must have believed in G-d? But this teaches you that whoever believes in the shepherd of Israel is the same as having faith in Him who spoke and the world came into being … In like manner … speaking against the shepherd of Israel is like speaking against Him who spoke and the world came into being.”
Chassidic Dimensions Volume 3, Jacob Immanuel Schochet, p.113

“One who attached himself to the true tzaddikim has true faith. Mashiach is the true tzaddik. One who accepts Mashiach will receive from him pure faith, and will not have misplaced his faith.”
Mashiach – Who? What? Why? How? Where? When?, Chaim Kramer, Breslov Resarch Institute, Jerusalem, p. 86.