Ten pieces ten days no. 5a; Wash the World Clean

Wash the World Clean

Abbaye said, there is not less than thirty six righteous persons in each generation who receive the Shekhinah [the inner presence of G*dliness], as it is said, fortunate are all who wait for him, and the word for him [lo] has the numerical value of thirty six.
— Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 97b

Rav said, all the ends have passed, and the matter depends only on transformation [teshuvah] and good deeds.

But Shmuel says, it is enough for the mourner to stand in his mourning.
— Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 97b

In Abbaye’s teaching on the thirty six from the Talmud, the world required a minimum of thirty six righteous individuals, but for what, to exist? To be just? To be authenticated somehow? Thirty six who draw down G*dliness into the world, without them, what?

After a gig one night in Arizona, Sam said, “there are not less than 36 righteous persons in the world, that’s it, it’s a minimum.” Sam had been carried out of Auschwitz after the War.

Someone I did not know, someone who wandered in off the street, said, “It’s a minimum, as if to say, there may come a generation, there may have been, that does not contain thirty six righteous individuals.” She was wearing thick glasses and her glance moved from face to face in the circle when she spoke.

“That’s the problem, what happens if there are not enough good people in the world, what then? It happens, again and again: Auschwitz, Sarajevo, Rwanda, not enough righteousness. It’s not theoretical,” Sam again.

Ida sat next to Sam. She put a tissue to her eyes and only then did I notice her. “What then?” said Ida.

“Some sort of complete transformation, a radical overthrow,” said Rick.

“Tears,” said Sam, “weep the world well. That’s what it takes. I’m still crying.”

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