Often people call someone a tzaddik simply because he is an exceptionally good person. Then there are times they come across a spiritual superhero, someone more like an angel than a human being, and they say, “Now that’s a tzaddik!”

Yet the most special thing about a tzaddik is that he really is the most human of human beings.

Tzaddik צדיק is a form of the Hebrew verb צדק [TzDK], which carries the meaning of doing what is correct and just. Weights that are calibrated correctly are called moznei tzedek. The judge is urged, “Tzedek, tzedek you shall pursue!” Meaning: that which was wronged should be righted, that which was stolen should be returned to its owner, the innocent should not suffer, and those who have caused harm shall be corrected so that they will return to doing good. Tzedek is making everything the way it should be.

So too, the personality of the tzaddik is calibrated to the Manufacturer’s original specifications, so that everything about him is just as his Creator meant it should be, and all he desires is what his Creator desires. A tzaddik is one who embodies the Creator’s primal conception of the human being.

The tzaddik is a human being like all of us. Because, essentially, all of us are divine.

Which means that the tzaddik is a human being like all of us. The tzaddik feels pain and pleasure. He grins, he smiles, he cries and he laughs. He suffers bitterness of the spirit, and he dances with joy. At times his heart palpitates with love, and at others his veins burn with outrage. He is frustrated by failure, exhilarated by success; he revels in the celebrations of life, and mourns when those he loves depart from it. Because all these things are included in the character of the human being as G‑d made him, and so they too are divine.

Like all of us, the tzaddik must eat and sleep. He must take time for leisure, and he enjoys the company of others. But he does all these things in a higher way, a divine way. Because, to the tzaddik, there is nothing that “just is.” Everything is with purpose; in all things he sees meaning. To the tzaddik, everything that exists is a means of connecting to an infinite G‑d.

This, then, is a tzaddik: one in whom we see our true selves, who allows us to realize that each one of us is essentially divine. And so, just by being there, but especially by our bonding with him, he connects us to the G‑d who breathes within each one of us.