Thursday, January 22, 2009


Faith in the Tzaddikim

by Reb Nati at Mystical Paths

"And they believed in Hashem and in His servant Moshe" (Shmos 14:31).

The midrash tells us: "whoever believes in Hashem is as if he believes in the true shepherd Moshe, and whoever believes in the true shepherd is as if he believes in Hashem, Creator of the world" (Mechilta, Beshalach).

The Talmud teaches: The Torah is acquired by means of 48 qualities. One of these is emunas chachamim, "faith in the tzaddikim" (Avot 6:6)

The vast majority of these qualities focus on one's diligence and efforts in pursuing Torah study and rectifying bad character traits. However right in the middle of all of these 48 is faith in the tzaddikim. The Tzaddikim are the ones who transmit the Torah to us, so without faith in their teachings we will never be able to acquire the Torah. That being the case, of what value is intellectual pursuit and diligent study?

An integral part of achieving faith in Hashem is by having faith in the tzaddik. After all, how can we with our defective sechal (intellect) and lack of Daat (knowledge, but knowledge of truth) in this ever confusing and changing world ever hope to come to choosing right from wrong, what is correct? How do we chose from pure and tamei (impure), kosher from traif (non-kosher)? For leading us through the confusion we have to rely on the Tzaddik.

These righteous individuals they who have risen above the mundane and physical restraints and limitations of the defective human sechal (intellect), they know. We can rely on them in much the same way as a child relies on a parent, to whom he look up as all knowing.

"Most sea men are Chassidim" (Talmud Kiddushin 82a). "This is because they are in constant danger and are always turning to Hashem" (Rashi) We can relate this to the crossing of the sea of reeds. The Jews believed in Moshe and followed him across. The sea was split like walls raising between the tribes, symbolic of the "sea of Knowledge" too dangerous to navigate across without the proper tools and navigational aides- these are the advice of the Tzaddik who guides us on the proper course.

Pharaoh on the other hand did not have any belief, he felt that he had the tools with which to cross on his own. As is the case today, with Artscroll and the many translations and incredible volume of holy seforim (Torah books), we have a ready access to the deep Ocean of the Torah. Yet we have to be even more careful than before as we sit at home without a Rav to teach us (with the rav was the only way until recent generations).

We must be aware that we are not properly equipped, and turn to those who are. Otherwise G-d forbid, like Pharaoh being ill trained and ill equipped to handle the turbulent sea, the walls came crashing down upon him and the Mitzrim [Egyptians] (Likutey Halakhot, Netilat Yadayim Li'seudah 6:39).

Rebbe Nachman said, From me you can begin to get a glimpse of the greatness of Hashem" (Tzaddik #284).

The Tzaddik is one who has attained Torah and has acquired Ruach HaKodesh (divine inspiration/insight). With faith in the Tzaddikim, they can help us achieve greatness in spirituality and closeness to Hashem.

"Even mentioning their names helps us draw from their Holiness." (Likutey Halakhot, Netilat Yadayim li'Seudah 4:6)

Photo: The Breslev Tzadik of Meah Shearim, my rav and teacher, HaRav Shalom Arush, shlita, author of the Garden of Emunah, dancing at the bar mitzvah of one of the son's of one of his talmidim in Jerusalem.


  1. I know, I know, but having faith isn't always easy, and I admit that I have trouble having faith in their predictions of the future.

    But how are we supposed to know the difference between a true tzadik and someone who is a very holy man but has not yet achieved the level of a true tzaddik? The latter sort might inadvertently err in some of their statements, I would think.

    And what are we supposed to believe if two people regarded as tzaddikim make mutually exclusive predictions about the future?

  2. gevalt!!! yasher koach!!


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