This page is dedicated to the compiled information from the journey of 36 individuals (some doubled/tripled up) who helped us better understand and uncover the mysteries surrounding the Lamed Vavnickim, the 36 Men of God.
The Number 36:
While popularly labeled the Lamed Vavnickim from the verse in Isaiah that was expounded in both Sanhedrin and Sukkah, there seems to be other numbers involved in the 36.
- Maharsha believed there were as many as forty-five.
- Rab Judah suggest there could be as low as thirty.
- Abraham, when attempting to save Sodom and Gomorrah, begged on behave of 50, 45, 40, 30, 30 and 10.
- The debates in Sanhedrin and Sukkah bring in different numbers that relate to varying amounts of people on different levels relating to the Schechinah.
- R’ Simeon bar Yochai suggests that even if there are only 2, he and his son, they would be a part of the righteous.
- We learn in Chullin 92a that there are three righteous known at the time; Rabbana Ukba, Rabbana Nehemiah and presumably Rav (possibly Rav’s daughter).
- Rebbe Nachman of Breslov labeled 7 of the to be beggars. We know from the Pentakaka story that many of these individuals lived lives that were surprisingly not glamorous.
Attributes of the 36:
- In Chullin we learn that at least a percentage of the righteous live in Israel and Diaspora.
- There seems to be a discrepancy if the 36 were hidden or known. Clearly, some made themselves and others known, like R’ Simeon bar Yochai, and others that were known publicly were through rumors or stories. 36. The lack of public knowledge of the individuals yet acknowledgement of a few and the validity of the accounts seem to suggest some or all are hidden today.
- Through mystical stories and one account in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Taanit) we know the Lamed Vavnickim would often conceal their identities. Often they were living as the most unassuming individuals; dealing with whores or begging on the street.
- The 36 sustain the world (we hope to discover more of what that exactly means).
- They have the ability to see God clearly, possibly as Meir Abulafia suggest, even in the World to Come.
- There is possibility that the status of Lamed Vavnick is passed down, at least on occasion, through lineage. Two of most well-known Lamed Vavnickim R’ Simeon bar Yochai and Rav have family members who we believer were also part of The 36.
- There is a correlation between many, if not all, of the 36 that they suffer throughout their lives. Both in stories and history, there is a running theme of pain. This could be due to the times/place they live in, the concealment of their identity, or the weight of the world upon their shoulders.
- If the individuals below were all Lamed Vavnickim, we know they served different functions and purposes in the world. For example, Rebbe Nachman was very different than Pentakaka in how they safeguarded the world.
Running Count via Texts and Stories of the 36:
- Rabbi Juzient
- R’ Simeon bar Yochai
- Elazar ben Simeon
- Rabbana Ukba
- Rabbana Nehemiah
- Rav’s Daughter
- Yotam ben Uzihayu
- Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
- 7 Beggars
- Baal Shem Tov
- Rabbi Yom Tov Levy & Ernie Levy