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People Who Hold Up the World

Regrettably, I am not Jewish. But I once heard a passage, of sorts that I found very inspiring. I do not remember much of it, but it involved something about there being 7 people who hold the world up; or keep it turning, and simply by existing it proves us worthy of G-d’s love and guidance. What is this referred to as in the Torah? Or is it even in the Torah? Thank you!


The concept of 7 people holding up the world is not found in the Torah, or in the rabbinic sources.

However, the number 7 is very central in Judaism, corresponding to its central place in the natural world. There are seven days of the week, seven colors of the rainbow, seven seas in the world, seven skies (listed by the Sages), seven notes in the standard octave, seven years in the Sabbatical cycle, seven cycles in the Jubillee cycle — and so on.

Corresponding to this, the Sages speak of Seven Shepherds, meaning seven leaders of the Jewish people, whose leadership formed the foundation of the nation. These are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David, and they are kabbalistically related to the seven Emanations (Sephirot). These are perhaps the seven people who “hold up the world,” though the expression in this context is not familiar to me.

In addition, the Sages (Sukkah 45b) do mention that each generation has 36 righteous people, whose very existence and presence holds up the world.

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