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Who Are the 36 Hidden Tzadikim?

Who Are the 36 Hidden Tzadikim?

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Question:

Who or what are the 36 holy people? I get the gist of such people being alive at one time, but are they still around? What is their purpose? Is it all a mystery?

Response:

Our holy books say that every generation actually has a minimum (there may be more) of 72 holy men, 36 who live in Israel, and 36 who live outside of Israel.

The number 36 corresponds to the 6 days of creation, and the 30 days of an average month. It also corresponds to the 36 candles kindled during Hanukkah.

The primary source for this teaching is in the Talmud, Succah 45b:

"The world never has less than thirty-six righteous men who receive the Divine Presence every day, for it is said, 'Happy are they that wait lo [for Him]' and the numerical value of 'lo' is thirty-six."

In merit of these righteous individuals, our world receives the divine vitality that keeps it going. We do not know for sure, however, the identity of all these extraordinary individuals.


Sources
The 36 hidden tzadikim are discussed by the Tikunei Zohar (50b), Sfat Emet, Meor V'Shemesh and others. The Meor V'Shemesh explains that the number 72 corresponds to the 70 Elders, plus Moses and Aaron. The Sfat Emet mentions the relationship with the Chanukah candles in his discussion of Chanukah.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (13)
September 4, 2013
Do they have to be men?
Can there be righteous women?
Judy in Atlanta
Georgia, USA
May 15, 2013
36 tzadikim
Is their knowledge to identify someone or something?
Anonymous
June 2, 2011
36
Do they know that they are tzadikim?
BS
Bklyn, NY
February 3, 2010
36
Nice article, but you missed one very important aspect of 36...

36 is a square, of 6 x 6 .

6 is the number of points to the Magen David, which is a mystical symbol, the details of which we don't have space to discuss here.

Also, 36 is 2 x 18, 18 is Chai, or life, thus the 36 maintain life, life above, and life below as in the Aleph, two yuds separated by one vav, a yud above, and a yud below, one for G-d, and one for man, separated by the kabbalists "screen", the vav....

You see, there is soooo much more going on here that you missed entirely.
Saul
FC, CO
February 3, 2010
J.E.K.
I understand your reference, but to search within yourself for a "hidden Tzadik", who is a member of the 36 is very vein, and self-centered.

This is the direct opposite of what a "Hidden Tzadik" would do.
Anonymous
FC, CO
June 22, 2009
36 Hidden Tzadikim
Perhaps the point of the Tzadikim being hidden is to encourage you to look for at least one of them within yourself.
J.E.K.
Ocala, FL
April 14, 2009
Hidden tzaddikum
The hidden tzaddikum can be hidden even if you think you know who they are. For example many people believed the Lubavitcher Rebbe was one of the 36 hidden tzaddikum. What I was told is that as great as we knew him to be that most of his greatness was still hidden from the world so he could still be considered a hidden tzaddik, (as we all had no idea of the level he was really on, and he did not allow it to be revealed)
Anonymous
New York, NY
March 31, 2009
Hidden
What about the idea that every tzaddik has a revealed part and a hidden twin? Where does that come from? How does it work? Or is it something else, not related to the 36 Hidden Ones?
Stephanie
Japan
February 23, 2009
36 Hidden Tzaddikim
"We do not know for sure, however, the identity of all these extraordinary individuals."

Then, can you at least name some of them?

Moreover, isn't the point of their being "hidden" that we don't know who they are; otherwise they are not "hidden".
Anonymous
Overland Park, Ks.
February 22, 2009
Yes it could be a woman
Looking back at Jewish History (biblical history) we find a number of Jewish prophets were women. Eg. Sarah (of whom is stated that she was a greater prophet than her husband avrohom);Miriam, moshe's sister; Devorah; Queen Esther etc.
The 36 tzaddikim can most definately include women, either by being born with a high lofty soul, or by attaining this great level on their own.
Anonymous
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