What's the name of the 12 or so jews who legend says take on all human suffering?
July 5, 2011 3:33 AM   Subscribe

I read somewhere of 12 or so jews who, according to legend, carry with them the suffering of the world. Name of these people and textual sources, if possible?
posted by deeper red to Religion & Philosophy (11 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: This is not the wandering jew myth -- that's something different.
posted by deeper red at 3:33 AM on July 5, 2011

Best answer: You're thinking of the Lamed Vavniks, the 36 righteous men for whom God keeps the world alive.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:37 AM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]

Jorge Luis Borges called them 'The Lamed Wufniks', featured in The Book of Imaginary Beings
posted by 0bvious at 3:45 AM on July 5, 2011

Response by poster: Many thanks. I knew them as the Lamed Vav, but couldn't quite remember the spelling. I'd searched Google for pretty much every permutation of the name, with every kind of spelling, so many thanks.
posted by deeper red at 3:50 AM on July 5, 2011

Piggyback - This was in a movie that I saw very recently. (Doesn't mean it was a recent movie.) It's not the Coen Bros. movie Serious Man or Time of the Wolf, both of which are listed in the pop culture references in Wikipedia. Anyone know where else I might have heard this mentioned recently?
posted by nosila at 7:23 AM on July 5, 2011

Maybe in Aronofsky's film, Pi? Lots of Jewish number-based references there
posted by 0bvious at 7:29 AM on July 5, 2011

Nope...that wasn't it, but good guess. I think it was mentioned in a narration, and that the insinuation was that the character narrating was one of the Lamed Vavniks himself. Hm. Maybe the BF will remember.
posted by nosila at 7:34 AM on July 5, 2011

The Last of the Just is a French novel about one family that has contributed a Lamed Vavnik for generations.
posted by nikitabot at 9:41 AM on July 5, 2011

I think you're describing The Cruise, starring the one, the only Timothy "Speed" Levitch. It's a great documentary and I can't recommend it enough. I tried to find a clip of Levitch talking about the Vavniks, but came up empty handed. I did find this interesting page, though:
posted by but no cigar at 10:13 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ack! How shameful that I can't get the link to show. Well, in the meantime, here it is in a less that ideal format: www.american-buddha.com/thecruise.50.htm
posted by but no cigar at 10:18 AM on July 5, 2011

Ah, I think I've got it...... Here it is: american-buddha.com/thecruise.50.htm
posted by but no cigar at 10:38 AM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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