Righteousness understands how to bring heaven to earth without spoiling earth and all its inhabitants in the process. Righteousness is a deep, spiritual thoughtfulness and awareness. It flexes, it bends, it is straight, it lies down and it rises up. To be truly righteous, one must have a connection with the Creator and understand what the Torah asks; beyond that, we must know how to obediently and thoughtfully respond.
In the tradition of Judaism, there are those who are known as Lamedvavniks. They possess an understanding of righteousness that is said to literally uphold the world.
Lamedvavnik is the Yiddish term for one of the 36 humble righteous ones or Tzadikim mentioned in kabbalah or Jewish mysticism. According to this teaching, at any given time there are at least 36 holy Jews in the world who are Tzadikim. These holy people are hidden; i.e., nobody knows who they are. According to some versions of the story, they themselves may not know who they are. For the sake of these 36 hidden saints, G-d preserves the world even if the rest of humanity has degenerated to the level of total barbarism. This is similar to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Torah, where G-d told Avraham that he would spare the city of Sodom if there was a quorum of at least 10 righteous men. Since nobody knows who the Lamedvavniks are, not even themselves, every Jew should act as if he or she might be one of them; i.e., lead a holy and humble life and pray for the sake of fellow human beings. It is also said that one of these 36 could potentially be the Mashiach if the world is ready for them to reveal themselves. Otherwise, they live and die as an ordinary person. Whether the person knows they are the potential Messiah is debated.1
Those who are supposedly Lamedvavniks are not aware of their state. But what they are doing daily is going through the world performing acts of kindness, sensitively transmitting righteousness through the world, and not destroying it. Their works are promoting the spirit of the Eternal throughout the world and preserving the world. Their ability to do good and seek good is so profound that the world is not destroyed along the way.
As none of these amazing righteous ones know who they are but yet live their lives, so too can we be inspired by this idea and live righteously. Invisible pillars uphold the world and add what is necessary to sustain it. If we are bearers of the knowledge of Mashiach Yeshua, we should be equally, if not more so, inspired to perform acts of righteousness and loving-kindness as invisible pillars and not take away from the world.
However, in seeking to live righteously, we will face many challenges along the way that seek to derail us. Life, as we know, is not one happy mitzvah after another. Sometimes we are forced to face serious moments of testing on our way to do good. As our Mashiach exhorts us:
If someone forces you to walk a mile with him on the road, go with him two. -- Mashiach Yeshua, Matthew 5:41, DHE
The temptation to tell this person to hike the mile alone or sock him with his bag should be subdued. We look at the opportunity to walk, not one but two miles, as a means to reach into his soul and be of help. The extra mile might help the individual to realize something greater about serving rather than being served. This "extra mile" in life can be so many things. Is it walking someone through a difficult time? Or perhaps having to wait for something to happen and having to endure difficult circumstances? Is it dealing with a challenging person on a daily basis? How willing are you to walk that "extra mile"?
May you be inspired to endure and reach greater heights in righteousness through thoughtfulness and a more open heart. As you live each day with purpose and awareness, may your deeds have a greater spiritual intelligence and may they infuse the world with Him and lift it up in His fashion. Be a pillar of righteousness.
1. Zwerin, Rabbi Raymond A. (September 15, 2002 / 5763). "THE 36 - WHO ARE THEY?". Temple Sinai, Denver: americanet.com
Gospel references taken from Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels (DHE)®, © Copyright Vine of David 2010. Used by permission.