Ẓaddik

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ẒADDIK

ẒADDIK (Heb. צַדִּיק; lit. "righteous man"), the title applied to an individual who is considered righteous in his relations with God and man. Noah is described as "righteous and wholehearted" (Gen. 6:9), and the Bible is replete with praises of the ẓaddik. Acting justly is the ẓaddik's greatest joy (Prov. 21:15), and the righteous man is considered an abomination to the wicked (Prov. 29:27). The righteous live by their faith (Hab. 2:4), and when their number increases the people rejoice (Prov. 29:2). There are whole generations that are righteous (Ps. 14:5), and in the future the entire Jewish people will be righteous and thereby merit inheriting the land forever (Isa. 60:21). The ẓaddik will be rewarded with material prosperity, and his merit will endure forever (Ps. 112:3; Prov. 11:31). Even if he stumbles seven times, he will still rise up again (Prov. 24:16), and God will not suffer the righteous to famish (Prov. 10:3) or be forsaken (Ps. 37:25).

Nevertheless, the Bible also recognizes that there are ẓaddikim who undergo tribulations. Abraham pleaded against the possibility that the righteous would perish along with the wicked (Gen. 18:23), and Habakkuk described the wicked swallowing up the righteous (Hab. 1:13). Ecclesiastes also probed this dilemma, remarking that "there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his evil-doing" (Eccles. 7:15).

The rabbis described the righteous as individuals whose behavior went beyond merely fulfilling the letter of the law (bm 83a and Rashi ad. loc.), and as being scrupulous in monetary matters (Sot. 12a). One passage, however, suggests that the ẓaddik is on a lower level than he "that serveth God" (Mal. 3:18, and see Ḥag. 9b). According to one interpretation, Noah is only considered a ẓaddik because his moral standards were higher than those of his depraved generation (Gen. 6:9; Sanh. 108a; i.e., it was a relative and not an absolute standard). The rabbis praised the righteousness of the ẓaddikim as being greater than that of the ministering angels (Sanh. 93a), and held that if the ẓaddikim desired, they were capable of creative acts similar to those of God (Sanh. 65b). It was believed that the ẓaddik could annul the decrees of God (mk 16b), and that he is constantly remembered for a blessing by virtue of his good deeds (Prov. 10:7; Yoma 38b). The rabbis attributed the barrenness of the matriarchs to God's desire to hear the prayers of the righteous before he would bless them with children (Yev. 64a). It is because of the merit of the ẓaddikim that the world exists (Yoma 38b), and God will never destroy the world as long as there are 50 righteous people alive (pdre, 25; cf. Gen. 18:26). People are divided into three classes: the completely righteous, the completely wicked, and the intermediate class (rh 16b; cf. Ber. 61b); although the verse "For there is not a righteous man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccles. 7:20) implies that the concept of the completely righteous is purely theoretical. The completely righteous are immediately inscribed in the Book of Life on Rosh Ha-Shanah and they are similarly forthwith inscribed for everlasting life on the Day of Judgment (rh 16b).

For the concept of the ẓaddik in Ḥasidism, see *Ḥasidism. For the concept of the thirty-six ẓaddikim who inhabit the world in every generation, see *Lamed Vav Ẓaddikim.

[Aaron Rothkoff]

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