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The Nature of the Tzaddik

A Tzaddik is a wise, humble, righteous, pious, good, truthful and virtuous person. This individual has similar attributes to those of a Mahatma (great soul). I have only known two people who fit this description - Rabbi Abraham and my great-great grandfather. Once again, Star Wars popped into my mind when I first read about the Tzaddik. I thought of Yoda and The Jedi as Tzaddiks, because they were illuminated from within. In the Bible, Joseph is the prototype of a Tzaddik, because he forgives his brothers for selling him into slavery.

In my view, Moses, David, Solomon and Elijah were not Tzaddiks. Moses did not give God credit for a miracle, so God did not allow him to enter The Promised Land. David arranged for the death of Uriah, so he could marry his wife Bathsheba. Solomon became obsessed with wealth and accumulation of gold. After Solomon met Sheba, he worshipped foreign gods and built statues to honor them. Elijah traveled to Mt. Horeb seeking praise from God after successfully establishing Yahweh (Adonai) as the one true God. He is not praised by God and does not receive the type of approval that Moses received.

Biblical characters who I do consider Tzaddiks include: Abraham, Joshua, Samuel, Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel and Ruth. I relate to these characters as Tzaddiks because they did not have inner battles with their ego-selves. They performed their natural duties and when the time came, they did what was right. There are many other examples of Tzaddiks in The Bible, but the ones I have mentioned are my personal favorites. Abraham destroyed idols sold by his family and established the ‘one God’ principle of monotheism. Joshua continued Moses’ mission and led the Hebrews over The Jordon River into The Promised Land. Samuel was God’s messenger and traveled tirelessly, while the Twelve Tribes made the transition from Judges to Kings. Jeremiah sacrificed his personal life and became a prophet. Esther had her defining moment when she went before the King. She was not summoned, which was punishable by death, but the King let her speak and she was able to save the Jewish people. Daniel would not compromise his Jewish beliefs by bowing down to the King as a god. Ruth - a Moabite - devoted her life to taking care of her Jewish mother-in-law (Naomi). Ruth stayed with Naomi after her husband had been killed, and together, they rebuilt their lives in Bethlehem.  

The Tzaddik always has good intentions and pure motives. The Sepher ha-Bahir states that the Tzaddik corresponds to the seventh sphere on The Tree of Life. This sphere symbolizes the male reproductive organ. The female element (Shekinah) is directly across from the Tzaddik on The Tree. The qualities of the spheres changed over the next four hundred years. By the 15th century, the Tzaddik had moved to the ninth sphere, Yesod, and the lower Shekinah became the tenth sphere, Malkuth. These spheres (Sephiroth) are associated with the masculine and feminine sexual organs. I began to learn that ‘cosmic sex’ played an important role in The Zohar. The sexual act became a symbol for the union of the male and female aspects of The Godhead. The Rabbi explained to me that the name of God as ‘yod-he-vav-he’ is the first clue to understanding the significance of male-female unity. He explained that when the letter yod is face-to-face with the letter he, this ‘backward-comma-like yod’ fits into the window of the upper left side of the letter he. This is symbolic of the phallus and the yoni coming together. The first he (higher Shekinah) gives birth through the bottom opening of the letter. She delivers a vav, who becomes the son of yod-he intercourse. The vav, when face-to-face with the final he, inserts its top line into the window of the letter he. This action is symbolic of the groom and bride coming together in cosmic harmony. I asked the Rabbi if the sexual nature of the Hebrew letters were personifications of a deeper esoteric meaning. He told me to think about this idea for a while and wait until the proverbial light bulb switched on in my mind. Over the next several weeks, I thought about Joseph Campbell and his stories of ancient civilizations, who worshiped the sun and the moon. I remembered the sun was associated with the masculine, and the moon with the feminine. I started thinking that the sun and the moon had one thing in common: they both provided light for the earth. Then, my light bulb came on; I remembered something I had just learned at a seminar, led by Z’ev ben Shimon HaLevi. The first point HaLevi made was that Jewish Mysticism was all about light. With this thought in mind, I made the connection between the name of God and various aspects of light. Since the letters of The Tetragrammaton (yod-he-vav-he) can be arranged vertically, each letter can be aligned with one of the Four Worlds on The Tree of Life. I wondered if the yod could be symbolic of the sun, the letter he - the moon, the vav - the sun’s light and the final he - the moon’s light. The Rabbi explained that this line of thinking was correct, because the sun, moon and earth were all worshipped by the ancients. He also explained that the city of Ur, the home of Abraham, was known as the city of moon worship. The word Ur in Hebrew means light. The Rabbi asked me to think about the Biblical first day of Genesis 1:4-5:

“God saw that the light was good, and separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening and there was morning, a first day.”

What struck me at first, was evening came before the morning. I never realized this before. I wondered, ‘what kind of light were they speaking of, if the first evening and morning were ‘created’ three days before the sun, moon and stars?’ The only conclusion I could reach, was that the first morning was symbolic of light. I looked through my books seeking an explanation, and concluded, that this light from the first day was the primordial light of The Godhead. Sometimes, this phenomenon is simply called the light of pure spirit (un-manifested eternal energy). If the first morning symbolized primordial spirit, the second day symbolized the differentiation of spirit into matter: “God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water’” (Genesis 1:6). The narrative continues, with the creation of the sky on the second day, and dry land on the third. This metaphysical phenomenon can be explained as pre-cosmic spirit devolving into pre-cosmic matter. This form of duality becomes the container for the animating force of life. On the fourth day, spirit and matter unite to form a universe and everything in it. I spoke to the Rabbi about my interpretation of these events and how they unfolded. He told me that I was on the right track.

In this paper, I have discussed spirit and matter because they relate to the nature of The Tzaddik. The Tzaddik (masculine) is symbolic of the phallus, sun, light and spirit. The lower Shekinah (feminine) is symbolic of  their polar opposites: the yoni, moon, darkness and matter. There must be a balance of masculine and feminine energies to form a union between these two aspects of the Godhead. The same holds true for the balance between the sun and moon, light and dark and spirit and matter. The term, ‘hieros gamos’ (sacred marriage) is representative of the balance between polar opposites. This type of unification leads to oneness, love, peace, harmony, truth, righteousness and virtue. These are the essential qualities of the Tzaddik. In the future, when the time is right, unity will exist within every human being and, “on that day God will be one, and His name shall be one" (Zachariah 14:9).

Robert Waxman 8/8/07

The Divine Feminine

In The Zohar, Shekinah is the female dwelling presence. I wanted to learn more about this subject, because over thousands of years, traditional western religions have denigrated women. I was surprised to learn that Jewish mystics recognized the need for balance between male and female energies. The Rabbi asked me to study the goddess Asherah, who is mentioned several times in The Jewish Bible. She is represented by 400 priests on Mt. Carmel. Elijah sets up a contest between her, Yahweh and Baal to determine who is the one, true God. Three alters were built, and the people stood waiting to see which pyre would begin burning first. Yahweh’s pyre was hit by lightening and a fire began. Subsequently, Elijah declared Yahweh as the one and only God, and he immediately ordered the killing of Baal’s 450 priests. It is interesting to note, the 400 priests of Asherah were not killed. No mention is made of any repercussions for those who worshipped this goddess. Therefore, the Jewish people must have wanted to keep the goddess figure in their lives. This is one of the few passages in The Bible where the divine feminine is acknowledged.            

The Zohar’s treatment of the feminine principle is different from The Bible’s portrayal of the temptress. According to the Talmud, Adam’s first wife Liluth was a she-demon. Some scholars claim she is part of the mystical tradition, but that is because the medieval Jewish mystics who studied The Talmud, incorporated her into their philosophy. Most scholars dismiss demons as a mythology of the times.

The Shekinah is the physical presence of God on earth. She is associated with the cloud over ‘The Tent of the Meeting’ during the time Moses set up camp at Mt. Sinai. When The Ark of the Covenant was at the front of the battle lines and Shekinah was there to protect The Ark and the Hebrew army. When The Ark was housed inside the tabernacle, Shekinah had a temporary home. When Solomon built The First Temple (circa 972 BCE), Shekinah has a permanent home in the Temple, inside The Holy of Holies. After the First Temple was destroyed, the Jews were exiled to Babylon, and it was thought that Shekinah was also in exile. When Shekinah did not have a home, the Jews concluded that God had abandoned them. After seventy-two years of exile, the Jews returned to Jerusalem and built The Second Temple that was destroyed in 70 CE by the Romans. Once again, the Jews were demoralized because Shekinah did not have a home.

Rabbi Abraham explained to me that by 100 CE, the Rabbis realized that any monument, Temple or shrine associated with Shekinah, would eventually be destroyed. They realized how depressing it was for the Jewish people to lose their sacred sites to an enemy. The concept of Shekinah, as an entity associated with physical structures, came to an end. The Rabbis decided to change the meaning of Shekinah from an outer dwelling presence to an inner one. The part of the soul called Neshamah (the eternal aspect) became known as ‘the Shekinah within’. This change corresponded with the Greek notion of the soul as a ‘she’. There was also a correspondence with the female Hebrew letter ‘he’ that appears twice in God’s sacred name. On The Tree of Life, the first ‘he’ became known as ‘the higher Shekinah’ and the final ‘he’ became ‘the lower Shekinah’ or Matrona.

My knowledge of Shekinah was helpful when reading The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. The main character, Dr. Robert Langdon, wrote a book entitled, The Sacred Feminine. As I read the book, I began to recognize many concepts that related to Shekinah. In my view, the only claim that Brown can substantiate, is the loss of the divine feminine during the time of Jesus. This loss caused an imbalance between the masculine and feminine energies. I thought about Genesis 1:27, “And God created man in his image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.” This is the Biblical starting point for the balance between male and female archetypes. I realized that all human beings have a certain balance of testosterone and estrogen in their bodies. I also thought about the soul as a sexless entity in balance. If transmigration of the soul occurs, every soul will experience a balance of being male and female. For unity to exist, these two energies must be equal in strength.  

The DaVinci Code brought this discussion onto the world stage. Brown reminds us of the day when matriarchal societies existed. He mentions the worship of the goddess as a tribute to ‘Mother-Earth’. She is the life-generator and the feminine aspect of nature that gives birth to all things. I began to research this subject further, and discovered that the divine feminine was honored in ancient agricultural communities.

The DaVinci Code brought this discussion onto the world stage. Brown reminds us of the day when matriarchal societies existed. He mentions the worship of the goddess as a tribute to ‘Mother-Earth’. She is the life-generator and the feminine aspect of nature that gives birth to all things. I began to research this subject further, and discovered that the divine feminine was honored in ancient agricultural communities.

The DaVinci Code brought this discussion onto the world stage. Brown reminds us of the day when matriarchal societies existed. He mentions the worship of the goddess as a tribute to ‘Mother-Earth’. She is the life-generator and the feminine aspect of nature that gives birth to all things. I began to research this subject further, and discovered that the divine feminine was honored in ancient agricultural communities.

Jewish Mysticism is one of the few traditions to keep the divine feminine as a central aspect of its philosophy. Judaism tried to regain the male-female balance in The Bible with the addition of the Books of Esther and Ruth (It is interesting to note, that God does not make an appearance in either book). In The New Testament, the male-female balance begins with the story of the immaculate conception. However, when Jesus begins his ministry, he does not have a female counterpart. This limits God to having a son, but no daughter. This is the best point Brown makes in his book. There should have been a divine female in the gospels’ stories to balance-out the male energy of Jesus. Brown tries to make the case that Mary Magdalene should have been that female counterpart to Jesus. 

Robert Waxman 3/6/07