And G‑d said to Moses, "Say to the priests, the sons of Aaron, saying, 'Don't become defiled through contact with the dead ones among your people'". (Lev. 21:1-2)

"A Song of Ascents, I lift my eyes to the mountains. From where will come my help? My help comes from G‑d, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth." (Psalms 121:1)

The purpose of a tzadik in this world is to elevate Jewish souls. When he discerns that in some Jew lies a dormant spark of holiness ready to be set aflame, he must do whatever it will take to elevate that soul to its pure and lofty source. Even though the tzadik may at times put himself in danger and risk the purity of his own soul, his obligation nevertheless remains the same, and G‑d will surely be his support.

In Psalm 121, King David alluded to this idea: "I lift my eyes to the mountains…". Tzadikim likened the evil inclination to a mountain (Talmud Sukka 52a). When a tzadik lowers himself to bring up the sparks and elevate a Jewish soul, he may find himself in danger, in lower plane of existence rampant with husks of impurity and filth, i.e. "…I lift my eyes to the mountains…" - all around him are the temptations of the evil inclination, he is in grave danger of falling prey its ruses and wiles. Mountains melt like wax before G‑d…

Therefore King David said, "My help comes from G‑d, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth". G‑d will be the support of the tzadik, as it is written, "Mountains melt like wax before G‑d, before the Master of the World." (Psalms 97:5) The tzadik need not fear any impure husks, nor the wiles of the evil inclination. G‑d surely protects him when he descends to rescue sparks of holiness and elevate Jewish souls.

This is all alluded in our verse, "Say to the priests, the sons of Aaron, saying, 'Don't become defiled through contact with the dead among your people.'" "Say" and "saying", says Rashi, teaches us that the older/greater generations must instruct the younger/lesser generations concerning these laws. The "older/greater" are the priests who go descend to a place of "smallness", to elevate souls. And the priests are the great tzadikim, as it is written, "…he was a priest to G‑d, the Most High." (Gen. 14:19)

"…the sons of Aaron...": The priests/tzadikim are also assisted by the merit of their ancestors when they endanger themselves to rescue and elevate Jewish souls.

"…Don't become defiled through contact with the dead ones [in Hebrew, 'l'nefesh', meaning 'for the soul'] among your people.": When the priests/tzadikim descend to elevate Jewish souls, they need not fear they will fall into danger and suffer spiritual defilement. With G‑d's help and with ancestral merit, they will succeed in rescuing and redeeming Jewish souls, purifying them and elevating them to the lofty source from which they originally emanated.

[First published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Emor 5760]