Friday, 25 September 2009

One of the 36 Hidden Tzaddikim - Rabbi Aryeh Levine



There is a well known concept that in every generation there are 36 hidden Tzaddikim – righteous individuals. According to the Tanya – the magnum opus of the Alter Rebbe, the first Rebbe of Chabad, a Tzaddik is someone who has no evil inclination. His every thought, speech and action is devoted to pure goodness. Practically speaking – he cannot think bad even if he would (theoretically) want to. It is a level which is really given to a person at birth.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov – on the other hand – teaches that everybody can become a Tzaddik. In fact, he would become very angry at those that would attribute his level of righteousness to the fact that he was the grandson of the holy Baal Shem Tov. He would tell them that he worked on himself until he acquired his great levels of righteousness.

Which one is it really?! Are Tzaddikim born, or can one become a Tzaddik by working on oneself through learning much Torah and engaging in many good deeds?

This of course refers to the "regular" Tzaddik. In addition to the "regular" Tzaddik, is a group of select individuals all on their own. They stand out from the crowd in that one can often never really identify them properly. Their essence is devoted to complete goodness, yet the world doesn't seem to know about these people or hold them in much high esteem, if any esteem at all.

It is also taught that the hidden Tzaddik must be hidden so that others not know the work he is doing to rectify the world. If anybody would find out his status, he would be required to leave this world – immediately. Such is the greatness of the hidden Tzaddik. He is here with us, yet most of us are simply too naïve and foolish to actually be able to identify him, honour him and respect him for his greatness. Of course, he neither needs our honour or respect. He knows well himself of his own achievements and contributions to the world. With regular visitations from the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah the Prophet) and other Tzaddikim and great souls and angels that appear regularly to him, he is well aware of his mission in the world.

We are taught, that in fact, there are 36 of these hidden Tzaddikim that maintain the world at any one time. No more… no less. They are scattered about, doing their jobs faithfully – while we may often even encounter them, insult them, and take no notice of them even when we are in their very presence!

As we approach Yom Kippur, we should surely consider the ideas of Rosh HaShanah and the three books open in front of G-d at that point in time. One for the Tzaddikim (to be inscribed for life), one for the Reshaim (to be inscribed for….) and one for the middle-man – the Beinoni. He is given ten days to improve himself so that he too will be inscribed in the book of life and be considered a Tzaddik.

One wonders though – if one could get a glimpse of a real hidden Tzaddik, what would he be like?! If they are around, then isn't it fair that we learn from them at some point in time? After all, if life is about doing good and kind things – and the hidden Tzaddikim seem to be able to do this all the time – wouldn't it be best for us to know at least one of them, so that we too could learn the right way to behave?

Indeed, every now and again – G-d gives us a glimpse into the life of one of them. Such was the life of the Tzaddik Rabbi Aryeh Levin. He may well have "left" the world some 40 years ago – but his life is certainly one that we can all learn from today.

A video documentary was made about his life - but it is no longer available online. If you are able to view it, you will see a beautiful introduction into a peek of the life of this Tzaddik – someone who we can all learn from. We can learn what life is really all about. Rabbi Benjy Levin is Rav Aryeh's grandson and it could well be that if you are in touch with him, he may be able to assist in your obtaining this beautiful documentary.

At the end of the video, someone who was affected by Rav Aryeh shares a beautiful teaching from him. He once asked Rav Aryeh if indeed he was one of the 36 hidden Tzaddikim. Rav Aryeh answered him that the hidden Tzaddikim are not a select group of people born into this world to fulfil a full life of righteousness from beginning to end. Rather there are always 36 hidden Tzaddikim in the world involved in Mitzvot and kind deeds. However, some of these individuals will be involved in this amazing goodness for just a moment, others a minute, others an hour or a day… maybe more. While engaged in their goodness, it is they who are the hidden Tzaddikim at that point in time – the reason for G-d's having created the world. When they finish their service, they leave the status of hidden Tzaddik, and let another take it over. At any one time, there will always be these 36 people involved in the most amazing goodness and kindness in the world. But the flame is transferred from one to another. At some point in time, that flame may even be in your hand. It will then be you – who is the hidden Tzaddik. Of course, you can choose how long to hold on to that title for, to continue with that goodness and be one of the 36 hidden great and righteous individuals who maintain this world – who G-d created the world for. The choice is all of ours.

Though we may not be the Tzaddik that the Alter Rebbe speaks about – or even that one that Rabbi Nachman of Breslov speaks about – each of us has the opportunity – every single moment to be the hidden Tzaddik that Rav Aryeh Levin speaks about.

Should you wish to learn more about this Tzaddik, why not purchase the book about his life? "A Tzaddik in our Time" by Simcha Raz can be obtained via Amazon by simply clicking on the link below!

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