What does Hebrew letter tzadik mean?
Tzadik is associated with the sign of Aquarius, the messianic sign that, with its pail of water, fills the entire world with higher understanding. According to the Oral Tradition, if one sign of the Zodiac were to correspond to the people of Israel, it would be Aquarius. Balaam’s prophecy of Israel’s messianic role speaks of a pail from which the waters of the Torah of Israel pour over the world.
The letter tzadik is at the beginning of the words “justice” (tzedek) and “charity” (tzedakah), reflecting this association with Aquarius (the sign most involved in the creation of a just and enlightened society).
According to some astrologers, we have only recently entered the Age of Aquarius, during which both the peak of technological development, as well as the apex of spiritual awareness, will be reached. This notion reflects a prophecy in the Zohar which stated two thousand years ago that there would be a prodigious development of “lower understanding” (science and technology) beginning in the Jewish year 5600, corresponding to 1840 CE. At the same time, the Zohar predicted that there would be a surprising leap forward of “higher understanding.”
The subsequent unification of these two bodies of knowledge would hasten the arrival of Mashiach. Indeed, the emergence of Chassidut, which can be considered the greatest revolution within Judaism, came at the same time as the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps we can speculate that the development of the computer and its numerous possibilities represent the “lower understanding” which will illuminate (serve) the “higher understanding.” This unification will be the harbinger of the messianic age. One of the goals of the messianic revolution will be the establishment of a just society, which, thanks to the support of scientific discoveries, will put an end to social and economical exploitation by allowing an equal distribution of divine bounty.
Letter tzadik shape
The shape of the tzadik actually resembles an antenna (with two lines directed upwards), hinting at the powerful tools of communications developed in the Age of Aquarius. Today, thanks to the Internet, the Kabbalah has reached not only uninitiated Jews, but millions of non-Jews who share the holistic vision of esoteric Judaism. The Zohar foretold this event: “In the “end of times” there will be a unification between the ‘lower waters’ [representing the scientific vision of life] and the ‘higher waters [the Torah].” Today this is reality: The deepest teachings of the Torah have been confirmed by science, which, with increasing emphasis, shares the unified vision of Kabbalah.
The phenomenal progress in communication has created the possibility of new contacts and mutual understanding between the scientific and spiritual worlds. The Torah’s unified vision, quantum physics, Chinese medicine, and holistic therapies (which view the organism as a whole and not as the sum of its parts) all play a common role in saving mankind. These concepts are widely discussed by Rabbi Ginsburgh and Rabbi Steinsaltz, as well as in Daniel Matt’s work, explaining how physics and metaphysics go hand in hand. We are privileged to live during this exciting and promising juncture as we witness the unification of ancient wisdom and modern knowledge. Not only is there no conflict between them; on the contrary, their confluence produces a powerful synergistic effect.
Who is a righteous man in Judaism?
Sefer Yetzirah associates the letter צ – tzadik – with the month of Shevat and the rectification of eating. As a word, tzadik means “the righteous person,” of whom it is said: “The righteous eats to satisfy his soul,” i.e., the goal is to “eat in order to live” and not to “live in order to eat.”
The holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year of the Trees, takes place during the full moon of Aquarius in the month of Shevat. The evolved person is like the tree, having found his or her physical roots. The tzadik receives food and nourishment from the ground as well as from Above. “Man does not live by bread only, but rather he lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
Like the tree, which needs light and air along with mineral nourishment extracted from the ground, the tzadik also learns to direct his “antennae” toward his celestial roots for spiritual nourishment especially during the act of eating. There are many stories of Chassidic teachers who completed their mystical ascents when eating. The Biblical texts also mention this possibility: the elders, who were endowed by Moses with the prophetic spirit, ate, drank and prophesied at the same time.
The Kabbalah bases much of its teachings on the image of a tree. The outgrowth of the sefirot from God’s undifferentiated infinity is referred to as the Tree of Life. Our real roots are in Heaven. A person, who is like a tree of the field, can grow and rise towards the Heavens, and then offer his or her fruits, shade, or support to others by connecting with the Divine nature of his or her soul. This soul connection is sourced in either a particular facet of the Torah, a specific emanation of Divinity, or an association with a righteous person who illuminates from Above. However, in order to be effective for others, he or she must develop strong and deep physical roots by learning to eat balanced and nourishing foods.
Achieving self-control in eating, knowing when and how to eat, is a fundamental goal in the Jewish tradition. Advice in this regard is found in Maimonides’ discussion of Jewish law, and throughout the literature of Kabbalah and Chassidut.
According to Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen, the primordial sin for which Adam and Eve lost paradise was not the consumption of a particular fruit, but rather the performance of the act of eating in an imperfect psychological and spiritual state. Eating has its own holiness that must be respected, just like any other ritual.
According to Kabbalists, the fact that paradise was lost because of a sin linked to the act of eating implies that a proper attitude while eating (what, how much and when…) is the main spiritual attribute required in order to hasten the redemption. As the Kabbalah teaches, a person may perform a fundamental tikun (rectification of his own soul and of both physical and metaphysical reality) by fasting, changing and elevating his eating habits, thereby rectifying the primordial sin.
The many fast days in the Jewish calendar are opportunities for heightening spiritual awareness, certainly with regard to our relationship to food. According to Dr. Moshe Refael, director of a healing in Safed, Israel:
Fasting quiets the ego. On the other side, the more we eat, the more we inevitably feed the animal aspects of our soul. After a few days of fasting, a person loses much of his aggressiveness, his impulsive reactions, and is ready to begin to seriously work on himself.
The suggestion of the sages to eat little and fast often guides us in breaking the tendency to eat obsessively (to avoid dealing honestly with our emotional void, professional frustrations and other uncomfortable situations). Maimonides also argued that most diseases derive from excess food consumption and, secondly, by an incorrect combination of foods. He used fasting as one of the most important therapeutic strategies, following the lead of the great physicians of the ancient times including, Plutarch, who claimed that “Rather than resorting to medicine, [it is] better to fast one day.”
Maimonides’ advice to patients to reduce their intake of food during meals by getting up from the table a little “hungry” is even confirmed by the physician Paracelsus, who said: “It’s the dose that makes the poison.”
According to Maimonides, overeating causes imbalances and increases stress and vulnerability to diseases. “The sensation of fullness is to be avoided at all costs because it causes stomach extension and thus diminishes its strength and ability to digest food properly. Do not eat until you feel full. You should leave a fourth of your fullness dissatisfied.” TCM shares all of these ideas. Consulting a serious acupuncturist will lead to a total change in eating habits.
According to Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the battle between holiness and profanity in the act of eating is represented by the common root of two words: “bread” – לחם (L-H-M), and “war” – מלחמה (M-L-H-M). Every time we eat, we have the opportunity to “make war” against our materialistic instincts, which tend to make us eat obsessively. In fact, unlike breathing, which is an automatic response, eating is an act within our control, whereby we can win the war against the compulsion to repeat subconscious, self-destructive eating habits.
The damages created by overeating are contained in a few words in verses by King David, King Solomon, and Isaiah. “The table of evil people will become a death trap for them”; “The belly of the wicked always feels empty” (Proverbs 13:25); “For all tables are full of vomit and filth, so that there is no clean place” (Isaiah 28:8). The practice of fasting was used both to break the yoke of individual destructive habits and as the main tool for national repentance. The three-day fast of Queen Esther (and of the whole community) succeeded in reversing the decree of the total destruction of the Jewish nation.
Contemporary medical research has also confirmed that overeating and being overweight are the causes of serious diseases, and that fasting has therapeutic effects. Fasting removes toxins from the tissues, detoxifies the liver and kidneys, purifies the blood and enhances our immune system. As Dr. Andrew Weil explains in his book, Question: To Fast or Not to Fast, prolonged fasting could lead to achieving complete remission from diseases that had been resistant to other treatments. Obviously, fasting should only be performed under the supervision of a competent physician, and it is absolutely necessary, to drink at least two liters of water per day.
Fasting is the most powerful remedy available for breaking the vicious cycle of self-intoxication. In fact, the more bad habits we have, the more we tend to compensate our physical or emotional disturbances through the consumption of increasingly toxic, fatty, sugary foods manipulated by the food industry. To cope with the heaviness, heartburn, excess cholesterol, depression, or infections, we begin to use all sorts of drugs that increase the outburst of toxins in the food and drugs. Thus, we pollute our body even more. As stated by Dr. Lucas Heidn in his text on liver health, “Even many doctors with the best intentions unknowingly become ‘smugglers’ for the pharmaceutical companies.”
What does Ruach Ha Kodesh mean?
The Arizal teaches that one of the most important techniques for reaching ruach ha’kodesh (“inspiration and prophecy”) is total כוונה – kavanah (“directed awareness”) when reciting the blessings over food before eating. In this way, it is possible to nullify the power of the קליפות – kelipot (“shells of impurity”) that metaphysically inhere in food and attach themselves to the person who does not eat with the proper attitude. It is even possible to purify our bodies when we eat with awareness, turning them into suitable vessels for receiving the spirit of holiness.
By consuming food with the intention of using its energy to do good, thereby transforming ourselves and the world around us, food becomes our partner in the work of rectification. Thus, matter ceases to be the means by which Divinity is hidden. Instead, it becomes the channel for Divine revelation. As teacher and biologist Susan Schneider has noted, once the molecules contained in food have been ingested, their spiritual essence ascends from the lower levels of consciousness (those generally accessible to the animal, vegetable, or mineral worlds) to higher levels of understanding. This is because they are now an integral part of the human being who has assimilated them. In effect, we have a reciprocal relationship with the food we are eating; we elevate the food and the food elevates us. This is so, provided that we eat with the proper awareness and intention.
In addition, eating with kavanah (“the proper intention”) can elevate a human being even further by putting him or her in contact with the sparks of Divine energy that descended before man was created. The process of Genesis began with the creation of minerals and ended with that of man. Even though the simplest, most original forms of life are organisms with little understanding, the sparks of Divine energy that they contain are closer to the absolute Divine essence. When minerals were created, nothing else existed in the world, except the Divine Presence. When man was created, all the other forms of life (animal, vegetable, and mineral) already existed.
The rock, finding itself alone and face to face with the Creator, was literally “petrified” by that vision. In contrast, Divine energy descended through many levels of tzimtzum (“contraction”, “limitation”) when God created man. Adam found himself face to face not only with God, but also with many other beings. This fact is still reflected today in man’s tendency to “lose sight” of the Divine. However, man with his many powers of expression, not only verbally, but also through all art forms, is capable of reflecting the universe (creating images) and thus, glorifying God’s creation.