The letter TZADI

The Tzadi represents the Tzaddik, the person who is just, as well as the righteousness of the Creator. The Tzaddik strives to be true, loving justice and fairness, straight and fully honest with their conscience. The idea is that the world is broken so every person must face their own evil and learn to restore it.   The literal meaning of Tzadi is a fishing hook.

Righteousness and humility are the two defining traits of the Tzadi. The shape of the Tzadi is a Nun with a yod riding on top it. This signifies that the Essence of the Creator, who animates all matter, guides and dwells within the one who is humble, as symbolized by the Nun. Another key trait is hiddenness. The Tzaddik is hidden because they appear as an ordinary person, despite their great spiritual stature.

"The tzadik lives by his faith." The form of the letter tzadik or tzadi, resembles that of the alef more than any other letter. The twenty-two letters of the alef-beit pair into eleven "form mates," the two letters whose forms most closely resemble one another, as taught in Kabbalah. The "mate" of the alef, the Master of the Universe, is the tzadik, "the righteous one," upon whom the world stands, as is said: "The tzadik is the foundation of the world."

The letter tzadik begins the word, tzelem, the Divine "image" in which G-d created man. In Kabbalah we are taught that the tzadik of tzelem corresponds to the three conscious levels of soul: mind, heart, and action, whereas the two following letters (lamed and mem) of tzelem correspond to the two transcendent levels of the soul, "the living one" (chayah) and "the single one" (yechidah), respectively, as discussed in the letter hei (tzadik in at'bash). These two levels become conscious as two states of faith in the inner awareness of the tzadik: faith in the Transcendent Light of G-d, the ultimate source of creation, and faith in the very Essence of G-d, the ultimate source of the revelation of Torah and mitzvot. For this reason the word tzadik (204) equals in gematria two times emunah, "faith" (102). Also in the verse "the tzadik lives in his faith," the letters of the word b'emunato," "in his faith," can be read as "two levels of faith." "Living in one's faith" means experiencing greatest joy in one's service of G-d, as explained in Tanya.

The word eitz, "tree," created on the third day, equals in gematria tzelem, 160, the "Divine image" in which man was created on the sixth day. "Man is the tree of the field." In Kabbalah, the third day, tiferet ("beauty"), is the origin of the sixth day, yesod ("foundation"). Tiferet and yesod totally integrate in the secret of the "middle line" - "the body and the brit are considered one." In Sefer Yetzirah we are taught that the twelve simple letters of the twenty-two letters of the alef-beit correspond to the twelve months of the year. Also, each month relates in particular to a specific "sense" in the soul. The letter tzadik is the letter of the month of Shevat, whose "sense" is that of "eating." The fifteenth (middle) day of Shevat, Tu b'Shevat, is the New Year of Trees. (The Rabbinic word for tree, "ilan," equals 91, the union of the two letters alef and tzadi, which is also the union of the two values 26 plus 65 [(2 · 13) plus (5 · 13) = 7 · 13 = 1 plus 2 plus … plus 13 = the "triangle" of 13], the value of the Name Havayah as it is written (yod-hei-vav-hei) and read (alef-dalet-nun-yod)

The "king of trees" is the palm tree, of which is said: "The tzadik like a date palm will flower." The root "to flower" (perach) equals 288, the secret of the 288 fallen sparks, elevated by the service of the tzadik in his Divine consciousness while involved in the act of eating. In all the seemingly mundane activities of the tzadik he "knows" (i.e., contacts, as explained above in the secret of the two previous letters of the alefbeit, the ayin and the pei) G-d, as is said: "In all your [mundane] ways know Him."

The original spelling of the letter tzadik is tzadi, which means "to hunt." The holy "sense of eating," the "sense" of the letter tzadik, is the ability to hunt in order to redeem and elevate the 288 fallen sparks of the breaking of the vessels, as discussed above. "The tzadik eats to the satisfaction of his soul" is the verse most relevant to the secret of the service of the month of Shevat. The redeemed sparks serve to elevate the consciousness of the soul of the tzadik to ever higher levels of Divine perception.

The letter Tzadi is related to justice (Tzedek) and to doing justice. It is also related to taking a position in life,* without which, the great magnet of day to day life can, eventually, determine fates. It suggests an alternative and a choice, in the time that we have, between a path filled with grace or a dead-end road that eventually leads to destruction.


The letter Tzadi contains, apart from justice, a subpoena (Tzav) and a command (Tzivuy); justice is related here to the price of the choices we made. The subpoena relates to the open invitation to make choices, and the total of all the choices in life summons the person to where s/he ought to reach at the end of his life. The command is related to the power to do justice in life.


Without taking positions, there is no commitment, and without a commitment, there is no real progress beyond convenience. It is not enough to take a non-committed position – responsibility must be taken for the consequences of this position. Without taking a clear position, it is impossible to know if we made a mistake. If we will not walk on the path of justice and take positions, the magnet of life will turn us into another commodity in the thriving culture of consumption.