GATEWAYS TO TORAT HAYIM

 
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Tzadik: The Eighteenth Letter of the Hebrew Alphabet

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by Raskin, Rabbi Aaron L.

“The letter tzaddik has two forms…the bent tzaddik which occurs at the beginning or middle of a word…[and] the straight tzaddik which occurs at the end of a word. What is the significance of each?

 

The straight tzaddik represents the baal teshuvah, one who has worked to improve his connection to G-d and returned to his essential holy nature. The bent tzaddik is born righteous, but has not yet reached the level of a baal teshuvah.

 

We are told, even a complete tzaddik cannot stand in the place of a baal teshuvah. A baal teshuvah stands higher.  How is it possible that a baal teshuvah—one who has sinned all his life and then decides to change—stands higher than a tzaddik?…

 

The one who has transgressed has…already experienced its physical pleasure [and] might be hooked. It is very difficult to extirpate that aspect from his life, and it requires tremendous strength and commitment. Thus a baal teshuvah…creates an elevated connection to G-d when he decides to change.”