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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Become the Tzadik!

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

In honor of my Children Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch and Raizy Haber of Los Angeles, who gave birth to a baby boy last night. May all their children walk in the light of Hashem with health and happiness.

I marvel at the story of the great Talmudic sage, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi.

The Talmud (Ketubot 77) reports that Rabbi Yehoshua was given an advance tour of his portion in Gan Eden. The tour guide was Eliyahu HaNavi. They entered Gan Eden and Eliyahu announced to those assembled in Paradise: “Make room for the son of Levi! Make room for the son of Levi!”

As they entered Gan Eden they found the famous student of Rabbi Akiva and the author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.  Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai immediately challenged Rabbi Yehoshua; “Are you the famous son of Levi that is so well-known for your righteousness? Tell me, did a rainbow ever appear during your lifetime? If it did then you are not the son of Levi that you could have been!”

The sight of a rainbow means that there is not even one righteous person in the generation and if not for G-d’s promise at the time of Noach the entire world would be destroyed.  Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai pointed out to Rabbi Yehoshua, if there was a rainbow during his lifetime then he obviously was not completely righteous!

The message is astounding. Even if the world is so corrupt that it is worthy of destruction it takes only one man to hold that world up!
The continued existence of the world and it’s blessings is not dependent on the thousands that do evil. It is dependent on just one righteous man or woman; just one Tzadik and there will be no rainbow!

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai informed Rabbi Yehoshua that he could have been that man; and if he wasn’t then he didn’t live up to the reputation of the ‘son of Levi’.

It is really inspiring that one person can, from within his or her individuality, change all of history. In fact, it seems that all of history has turned on the pivots of individuals. It only takes a single individual to make things better.

Anyone of us can be that Tzadik. Righteousness is not reserved for the mountaintop meditator or the elders of Bnei Brak! We are all meant to be Tzadikim! We can all shake up the Heavens.

Here’s a few things we can do right now.

1) Give in! If you are in an argument or a social standoff ask yourself, ‘Is this about ego? Is it about my pride? If the honest introspective answer is yes, give in. Make peace!
2) Be inclusive! If you are invited to participate in a program or meeting which is divisive or hateful to others, say no! Be the inclusive one in the group. Say “no!” to things that divide us.
3) Dwell on what you stand for; and not what you are against.
4) G-d gave you a soul that is full of light. Let the light shine! Greet every person you meet with love and make your light contagious.

Just a few good men and women is all we need to change the world. Let’s give it a shot.

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