The Legend of the 36 righteous (Hebrew lamed - waw Tzadikim; Yiddish also: lamed - wownikess ) states that there are always thirty-six righteous in the world, on account of which God created the world, despite their sinfulness, can not go under. The Thirty-six are nameless, no one knows if they, water carriers, concierge, shoemaker, soldiers or merchants are rich or poor - but without their selfless work, the world would be destroyed long ago. The Thirty-six occur only rarely in evidence - especially in an emergency, if Jews are in danger. Then to a tzaddik fulfill God's mission and save the Jews with a sudden miracle - and then disappear again, because his identity must never be revealed. Once one of the 36 righteous dies, another is born handicapped.
This idea of Jewish mythology goes back to the Babylonian Talmud. The corresponding points are found in the treatise Sanhedrin. There is the following passage from Isaiah 30 Tanakh, commented 18: " Therefore the Lord waits that he be gracious unto you, and he sets out that he have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! " The Hebrew word for " him " in the last sentence of this verse is " lo ". This is written with the Hebrew letter " Lamed " and " vav ", which mean both numerical values : " Lamed " has the numerical value 30, " Vav " the numerical value of 6, as they stand at these same positions in the Hebrew alphabet.
The Legend of the 36 righteous emerges in the 20th century in many literary works, such as Max Brod; 1959 themed André Schwarz-Bart them in his successful novel The Last of the righteous; Rose Auslander named in 1967 a cycle of poems by the 36 righteous. In the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem there is the " Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations", whose name also recalls the legend of the 36 righteous.
Hannah Arendt wrote in 1948 about the relationship between politics and morality, in memory of Judah Leon Magnes pacifists:
" The ancient Jewish legend of the 36 unknown righteous who are always there and without whose presence the world would fall to pieces, ultimately says something about how necessary such ' magnanimous ' behavior in the normal course of events. In a world such as ours, in which, in some countries, it no longer leaves the policy in infamous escapades, but a new level of crime has climbed, but the uncompromising morality merely the world has suddenly their old function, together, changed and is become the only means by which the actual reality - disfigured as opposed to crime and basically just short-lived facticity - can be identified and designed carefully planned. Only those who are still able to are not put off by the fog that emerge Nothing fruitless violence from and disappear back there can, entrusted with such weighty matters as the permanent interests and the question of political survival of a nation be. "