Tanya/Iggeres Ha’Kodesh - The Holy Epistle, Epistle 10, Class 6



This is the meaning of the verse, “G‑d prefers tzedakah and justice36 over offerings,”37

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "עֲשֹׂה צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט נִבְחָר לַה' מִזָּבַח",

because the sacrifices are defined in terms of quantity, dimension, and limitation,

לְפִי שֶׁהַקָּרְבָּנוֹת הֵן בִּבְחִינַת שִׁיעוּר וּמִדָּה וּגְבוּל,

while charity can be dispensed without limit, for the purpose of rectifying one’s sins.

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בִּצְדָקָה שֶׁיּוּכַל לְפַזֵּר בְּלִי גְבוּל לְתַקֵּן עֲוֹנוֹתָיו.

Although (like the sacrifices) tzedakah also effects atonement, it may be offered (unlike the sacrifices) without limit. It is therefore able to draw down Divine illumination that is correspondingly infinite and thereby secure a superior order of atonement.

As for the ruling that “He who is unstinting [in his charitable giving] should not expend more than one-fifth [of his earnings],”38

וּמַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ: "הַמְבַזְבֵּז אַל יְבַזְבֵּז יוֹתֵר מֵחוֹמֶשׁ",

this applies only to one who has not sinned,

הַיְינוּ דַוְקָא בְּמִי שֶׁלֹּא חָטָא,

or who has rectified his sins by means of self-mortification and fasts,

אוֹ שֶׁתִּקֵּן חֲטָאָיו בְּסִיגּוּפִים וְתַעֲנִיּוֹת

as indeed, all the blemishes Above should be rectified.

כָּרָאוּי, לְתַקֵּן כָּל הַפְּגָמִים לְמַעְלָה.

Since such an individual need not give tzedakah to rectify his sins, he should not give more than a fifth.

But as to one who still needs to remedy his soul,

אֲבָל מִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְתַקֵּן נַפְשׁוֹ עֲדַיִין,

the healing of the soul is obviously no less a priority than the healing of the body,

פְּשִׁיטָא דְּלָא גָרְעָה רְפוּאַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ מֵרְפוּאַת הַגּוּף,

where money does not count.

שֶׁאֵין כֶּסֶף נֶחְשָׁב –

As Scripture states, “Whatever a man has, he will give on behalf of his soul.”39

"וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לָאִישׁ יִתֵּן בְּעַד נַפְשׁוֹ" כְּתִיב.

The simple meaning of the verse is that a person will forego all his wealth in order to save his life. However, since the word “soul” is used rather than “life,” we may also understand this to mean that a person will give everything he has in order to save and rectify his soul.




36. Note by the Rebbe: “In light of this explanation, what is the relevance here of justice? “Paradoxically, it could be explained that it is specifically this word that explains why tzedakah is preferred over offerings. For the kind of tzedakah that can be done equally by all—the regular, unqualified commandment of tzedakah, which is one of the pillars upon which the world stands—would appear to belong to [the finite category known as] chesed olam, as stated explicitly above. How, then, can it be found preferable to offerings? The verse therefore specifies that the subject at hand is the kind of tzedakah that is closely accompanied by justice, i.e., the tzedakah whose goal is the just rectification of one’s sins. “This concept is related to that in Torah Or (63b), but it is not exactly the same. As to the difference in order between ‘tzedakah and justice’ and ‘justice and tzedakah,’ see Avot deRabbi Natan, beginning of ch. 33, and Or Hatorah, Parashat Vayera, 99a.”

37.Proverbs 21:3.

38.Ketuvot 50a.

39.Job 2:4.