(by Rabbi Eh'bed Baw'naw of Kehilat Melech Mashyach)
In the Hebrew Roots community there is much emphasis on "doing mitzvos" and not so much on "fulfilling mitzvos". There is a difference between these two premises that unfortunately is not understood by most because it is not taught.
Many find it odd that one of the cornerstones of the Jewish faith is צדקה (tzedakah: meaning charity), yet if you go to a schul of the Netzari faith or the orthodox faith, there is not an "offering" taken up on shabbos like there is in the messianic and Christian faiths. It seems contradictory to many to have such great emphasis on tzedakah and yet at the same time don't "pass the plate". The reason is because the word צדיק (Tzadik: meaning righteous one) makes up the word צדקה (tzadakah) minus the letter ה. So essentially, charity is a product of striving for tzadikim (righteousness). Yet at the same time, giving to charity is does not mean that one is a tzadik. Lets look deeper into this premise of righteousness.
The צ for צדיק, the Righteous One, refers to the Almighty. Who is called "the Righteous and Upright One" (Deuteronomy 32:4), devoid of any conceivable injustice. True righteousness can only exist only in G-d and the integral part of Him. No other being can have the an essence so pure that it is without deficiency and cannot become further perfected.
Similarly, King Solomon's description; "The tzadik is the foundation of the world" (Proverbs 10:23), alludes to G-d, who sustains the entire world (Magen David). Osios R' Akiva explains that the צ symbolizes G-d's ultimate righteousness toward people, which is defined as His gift of knowledge, understanding, and the power of intelligent speech, through which the world can endure.
The term tzadik is also applied to human beings who emulate G-d's righteousness by conducting themselves with integrity, truth and justice (Tosefos Yom Tov Berachos 7:3). "And the greatest among you will be your eved mesharet" (Matthew 23:11). Just as the Supreme tzaddik allots every element of creation is due measure of time, space and matter, so does the human tzaddik render his fellowmen all their due in each situation. Such a man's life is an unending pattern of justice, unbiased by his personal interests. He views everything objectively and with chesed with the Torah's dictim as it is writtten: צֶדֶק צֶדֶק, תִּרְדֹּף "Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof" Justice Justice shall you pursue (Deuteronomy 16:20).
The Divine Tzaddik sustains and protects the world; through his merits the human tzaddik, too sustains and protects the world. Noah who started the word anew after the flood is called a tzaddik (Genesis 6:9). Avraham Aveinu is described as the foremost of tzaddikim according to Shir HaShirim Rabbah 3:5, because he taught mankind the idea of the Creator, thus providing spiritual sustenance, which ranks higher that the physical according to the Maharal of Prague in the Derech Chaim. Joseph is called the "tzaddik, the foundation of the world", because he nourished the population of many lands during the great famine. He also earned the appellation of tzaddik "by virtue of his moral strength in resisting the temptation of Potiphar's wife" (Zohar 1:45). Thus by the same respect Melech Mashyach Yeshua is referred to as "ne'eman and yashar and in tzedek he judges" (Revelation 19:11).
"Just as angels are G-d's messengers in heaven, so are tzaddikim his ambassadors on earth" (Rambam). But according to Tanchuma Bereishis 5, a tzaddik is greater and angel because an angel carries out his Master's will automatically, but a tzaddik serves G-d with his own free will.
"The bent צֶ stands for the tzaddik bent in humility" (Shabbos 104a). The talmud observes that the bent צֶ has taught us the lesson of humbleness by being referred to as 'the faithful one who is bent'. Moshe Rabbeynu was the paragon of humility as it is written:
"The man Moses was exceedingly humble, more than any man on the face of the earth"
(Numbers 12:3). According to the Toras Chaim, Moses' extreme humility was the reason he was chosen to transmit the Torah.
Now the upright standing צֶ (which the internet does not allow to be typed out upright so refer to the above picture at the top of the article) denotes dominion over the Olam Haba (Rashi, Sahbbos 104a). For the צֶ can only be as upright as to the proportion he has been bent in the Olam HaAretz. For the one who embodies haughtiness and ego in the Olam HaAretz sees his צֶ as already being upright. Our Melech Mashyach warned us of this and showed these hasidic premises and how to apply them when he said:
"Then Mashyach spoke to the multitudes and to his Talmidim, Saying, Upon the Kisei Moshe (Chair of Moses) sit the Sofrim and the Perushim. Therefore, everything whatever they may tell you, be frum and be shomer, but according to their ma’asim (works) do not be shomer, for they do not practice what they preach. And they tie up heavy loads, hard to bear, and they place them upon the shoulders of men, but they, with so much as a finger, are not willing to lift the oppressive burdens. And all their maasim hamitzvot (works of the commandments) they do in order to be seen by Bnei Adam, for they broaden their tefillin and lengthen their tzitziyot and they love the places of
honor at the seudot (banquet dinners), and the shuls, And the [obsequious] Birkat Shalom greetings in the market places, and to be called by Bnei Adam, Rebbe."
For the Perushim in these verses felt that their צֶ was upright, though they had the right rulings their haughtiness and ego is what kept from from striving for tzaddikim. For the sages of the Pirkei Avos say "Antignos of Socho received [the transmission] from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say: Do not be as servants who serve the Master to receive reward. Rather, be as servants who serve the Master not to receive reward. And let the fear of heaven be upon you." (Avos 1:3).
For Rav Sha'ul speaks of the premise of tzaddikim when he says:
"But the p'ri of the RuachHaKodesh is ahavah (love), simcha (joy), shalom (peace), zitzfleisch (patience), nedivut (generosity, kindness), chesed (loving-kindness),ne'emanut (faithfulness), Anavah (meekness, shiflut, lowliness), shlitah atzmi (self-control)...would you not agree?--against these things there is no isser (proscription in the Davar Torah).
Thus simply, "doing mitzvos" is not what makes someone righteous. For a B'nei Noach or a Ger Tzaddik could be more elevated by Hashem than that of a Baal HaKabbalah. For it is the encapsulation of how one fulfills mitzvos through that shalom and a balance of chesed, tifferet and gevurah that one strives for tzaddikim as Rav Sha'ul makes further note of:
"As to the rest, Achim b'Mashyach, whatever things are emes (truth), nichbad (noble), yashar (straight), tahor (clean), male No'am (full of pleasantness) and tiferet (beauty), whatever things are
commendable, if there is any virtue, if any praise, think about these things."
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah at Beit Geulah in Morganton, NC (www.BeitGeulah.com)