First Become a Tzaddik
The Midrash tells us that before launching this world, the Yotzer Bereishit (Former of Beginnings) emanated many other worlds and each was found wanting. Even when this world arose in the Divine Mind, there was still some uncertainty concerning whether to create it with the attribute of Judgment or Compassion. If we look deeply into the implications of these midrashim and shift from the language of ancient myth into our own paradigm, we can recognize how deeply the Sages intuited the evolving nature of the G-ding project and the precariousness and imperfection of any emanated world.
The acute challenge which the G-ding Power must face is that in its inherent greatness, Be-ing would not be enhanced by manifesting an already perfected world. Rather, It constantly aspires to manifest a world that is perfectible. Such a world has the capacity to bring about its own destruction, as well as its own salvation, because contraction and darkness are essential elements in any evolving world.
Generally, through the agency of the G-ding Power, evolution gradually occurs. But once Adam, the earth- being with the capacity to be conscious of its source, appears on the scene, the prognosis for the world becomes especially problematic.
As we read, at the end of parashat Bereishit: Be-ing manifested a Comforter because the earth-being that had evolved up to this point had become such a pain, that Be-ing considered wiping the entire world out of existence because of the earth-being. (Genesis 6:6-7).
The Torah speaks of a time when it seems that every creature in the world is not acting properly. From the G-ding Power’s perspective, Creation was ruined, because every creature was malfunctioning. (Genesis 6:12). The Slonimer Rebbe teaches that this threat to all life should not be viewed as a punishment for creatures that have no real choice. It is human folly, greed and weakness that have the capacity to affect the entire world so negatively. The effects of this “contamination” can be so widespread that at some point, tikkun (fixing the world), may no longer even be possible. (See Netivot Shalom, Noach).
When we read in our Rebbes’ teachings that the world was created for the sake of the tzaddik, it is so easy to think that this is just a quaint, sweet way of thinking or, worse, some form of self-aggrandizing propaganda by spiritual teachers seeking power. But in our time, when the consequences of unenlightened human behavior are so apparent and ominous, it is necessary to consider how the Torah’s teaching concerning Noach, the first Tzaddik, may be vital for our survival. If a sufficient number of us do not quickly evolve to the level of at least “tzaddikim-in-training,” what will induce and enable the G-ding Power to maintain our present world?
The Torah, foreseeing our predicament gives us hope: Be-ing recognized Noach as a channel for the flow of Divine Grace. (Genesis 6:8).
These are the effects of Noach; Noach, a person who became a tzaddik… in his times… (Genesis 6:9). Rashi cautions that because the Torah refers to Noach as a tzaddik… in his times, we might think that Noach’s achievement was only relative. But, precisely because Noach succeeded in becoming a Tzaddik in such unfavorable circumstances, he deserves our great admiration. Noach is an example to be followed, especially in times when there seems to be no hope.
Rebbe Aharon of Zhitomer, a close disciple of the Berditchever, explains why the Torah’s wording makes it possible to view Noach’s righteousness with both praise and contempt. (See Toledot Aharon, parashat Noach). Why does the Torah repeatNoach; Noach…? (Genesis 6:9). Because the Torah was calling attention to the tzaddik Noach’s two ways of viewing himself. On the one hand, he was aware that in a time of such rampant arrogance and destruction, he was unique. At the same time, he also knew that the level of spiritual elevation he had achieved under these difficult circumstances was only modest, compared to what he might have achieved in a more highly evolved age.
Noach represents the lone tzaddik, visible only to the Divine Eyes. Thus he is the archetype of the hidden tzaddikim. Thirty-six are the offshoots of Noach… (Genesis 6:9), because Noach is the source of the tradition of thirty-six righteous individuals who in their times, are unswerving in their devotion to the G-ding Power, (Genesis 6:9).
If Noach is the archetype of the tzaddik, what is his secret? Hints are already present in the last verse of the previous parashah. NoaCH found CHeN with the Eyes of Be-ing. (Genesis 6:8). The letters of Noach’s name and the letters of chen (Divine Grace) are the same. The only difference is that the order is reversed and the initial “supplicating” Nun at the beginning of the name, Noach becomes the long, vertically extended final Nun which is the last letter of chen.
What can we learn from this? The name “Noach” means “easy” or “comfortable.” The archetype of the tzaddik is called “Noach” because he or she is so close to Be-ing that a state of ease and comfort is maintained, even under the most challenging conditions. The “supplicating” initial Nun, indicates that Noach was bowing before the Divine Presence. This enabled him to achieve a higher consciousness. As the letters of his name suggest, he was constantly reducing his egocentric tendencies and connecting to Chokhmah (Divine Wisdom), as indicated by the letter Chet that follows the initial Nun.
When a tzaddik, like Noach, is connected to the Higher Consciousness of Chokhmah, perception is elevated beyond the way things look within the various dimensions of manifestation. This level of consciousness is called seeing with the Eyes of Be-ing(Genesis 6:8).
When this way of seeing is mastered, there are profound consequences. Noach found chen… (Genesis 6:8). The reversed letters of chen teach us that when the tzaddik’s consciousness is stabilized in Chokhmah, the surrendered state (Noach), is transformed into an active state in which the tzaddik is able to draw down Divine Grace (represented by the long, vertically extended Nun inchen). (See Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Liqqutey MoHaRan, part 1, torah 1).
Some have thought it relevant to criticize Noach for not praying for his generation. But this criticism misses the point of what we need to learn from Noach. Noach discovered what was charming from the perspective of Be-ing. (Genesis 6:8). A tzaddik’s wholehearted righteousness makes a person so beautiful that Be-ing may be enticed to maintain the world’s existence, as long as enough tzaddikim like Noach are in it.
Noach’s charm derived from the fact that through his constant surrender to Hokhmah (Divine Wisdom), he was able to master three essential stages of spiritual development. The tzaddik’s state produces three essential contemplative qualities: the sense of awe and surrender, passionate devotion, and the capacity to manifest spiritual beauty. (Genesis 6:10). When these three qualities (Malkhut, Chesed, and Tif’eret) are integrated, the tzaddik can see the world the way it appears in the deep gaze of the Eyes of Be-ing.
From this perspective, the tzaddik knows what the Divine requires. The gematria (numerical value) of the name Noach is 58. This is the same gematria as the Hebrew root Alef Zayin Nun. This root forms the word ‘izzun (balance). The tzaddik balances the three essential spiritual qualities, so that he/she is always Noach (at ease), regardless of conditions in the world. The same root forms the word ‘ozen (ear). Because of the tzaddik’s balanced state, Noach recognizes what is about to occur and is receptive to the Divine Command. The G-ding Power told Noach I am now contemplating the end of all creatures that are filling my world with violence; My intention is to slaughter them along with the entire world. (Genesis 6:13).
As the Slonimer Rebbe teaches, sometimes it may already be too late for rebuking and criticizing others to be effective. When the polarizing energies of hate, fear, violence, and arrogance contaminate the entire world, the only remedy left may be the way of the tzaddik.
Make yourself into a spiritual vessel of refuge…make it impervious to negative influences coming from outside yourself and also from your own inner weaknesses. (Genesis 6:14).
Make sure your vessel of refuge has a window to receive light from the Higher Divine Mother Binah. Make an opening by its side(Genesis 6:16) so that you are open to receive all who are capable of joining you and also have a way to release whatever needs to be eliminated.
Make it big enough to integrate your entire body, heart and, mind. (Genesis 6:16).
Then, whenever I AM manifests a maelstrom of destructive energies that threaten to overwhelm all that lives, (Genesis 6:17) I AM will maintain a conscious connection with you, so that you and all that are dear to you can be safe in the vessel of refuge. (Genesis 6:18).
May we all be Noach in the most challenging times.
May we maintain balance through appropriate praise and self-criticism.
May our spiritual beauty Be-ing into maintaining our world.
May we transform ourselves into vessels of refuge
That can weather any storm.
Rabbi Moshe Aharon Ladizhyner