I am referring to the concept of Tzadikim Nistarim (lamed-vovniks)—the 36 hidden saints in the world because of whose righteousness the world continues to exist—addressed in this passage:

As a mystical concept, the number 36 is even more intriguing. It is said that at all times there are 36 special people in the world, and that were it not for them, all of them, if even one of them was missing, the world would come to an end. The two Hebrew letters for 36 are the lamed, which is 30, and the vav, which is 6. Therefore, these 36 are referred to as the Lamed-Vav Tzadikim. This widely-held belief, this most unusual Jewish concept is based on a Talmudic statement to the effect that in every generation 36 righteous "greet the Shechinah," the Divine Presence (Tractate Sanhedrin 97b; Tractate Sukkah 45b). (Source: Zwerin, Rabbi Raymond A. (September 15, 2002 / 5763). "THE 36 - WHO ARE THEY?". Temple Sinai, Denver: americanet.com. Archived from the original on Jan 18, 2003. Qtd. in http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzadikim_Nistarim)

I am wondering whether there is anything in religious literature that suggests that these people must be Jews. Is it possible that some are goyim?

  • 1
    I think Iyov a non-Jews if he existed would qualify
    – cham
    May 13, 2015 at 21:26
  • The Talmudic part of your quote is marked as such ("a Talmudic statement to the effect that..."). The rest is not AFAIK from the Talmud, and certainly not from the pages you cite. Where is your quotation from?
    – msh210
    May 14, 2015 at 4:50
  • it seems to be possible judaism.stackexchange.com/a/25805/1857
    – ray
    May 14, 2015 at 5:02
  • @msh210 I never said the whole thing was from Talmud. Will add a citation for the quote.
    – SAH
    May 27, 2015 at 16:50
  • 1
    Maybe not enough for an answer, but @Fred said this in his comment here (judaism.stackexchange.com/a/66186/1516): "See Chullin 92a that the world exists in the merit of 45 tzadikim and/or that the nations of the world exist in the merit of 30 righteous non-Jews. Though the Talmud does refer to 36 lofty tzadikim who potentially merit clear encounters with the divine presence daily (Sanhedrin 97b, Sukka 45b)."
    – SAH
    Jan 12, 2016 at 8:27


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