/Iggeres Ha’Kodesh - The Holy Epistle, Epistle 10, Class 7



The Alter Rebbe now returns to the verse quoted at the outset of this Iggeret Hakodesh: חַסְדֵי ה' כִּי לֹא תָמְנוּ וגו'—“The kindnesses of G‑d have surely not ended….”

There, he had asked: If the verse refers only to G‑d’s kindness, why does it use the verb tamnu (in the first person plural), which would make the phrase mean, “we have not been brought to an end,” rather than tamu (in the third person plural), which would mean that “the kindnesses have not ended”?

He answers this by saying that חַסְדֵי ה' (“the kindnesses of G‑d”) refers also to the giving of tzedakah without limitation. Accordingly, the verse may be understood, as he now goes on to explain:

Now, since this is G‑d’s manner of practicing benevolence, this mode of unlimited kindness is known by the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, [viz.,]

וְהִנֵּה, מִדַּת חֶסֶד זוֹ בְּלִי גְבוּל וּמִדָּה נִקְרֵאת עַל שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא –

“The kindnesses of G‑d,”

"חַסְדֵי ה'",

as it is written, “and G‑d’s chesed is everlasting….”40

כְּדִכְתִיב: "וְחֶסֶד ה' מֵעוֹלָם וְעַד עוֹלָם כוּ'".

For though “All of Israel are compassionate and practice kindly deeds,”41

כִּי הֲגַם שֶׁכָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵם רַחֲמָנִים וְגוֹמְלֵי חֲסָדִים,

nevertheless, there is a limit and measure to man’s compassion.

בְּרַם יֵשׁ גְּבוּל וּמִדָּה לְרַחֲמֵי הָאָדָם,

But the Holy One, blessed be He, is called the Ein Sof“the Infinite One,”

אֲבָל הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא נִקְרָא "אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא",

and His attributes (like Himself) have no end,

וּלְמִדּוֹתָיו אֵין סוֹף,

as it is written, “…for His mercies never cease.”42

כְּדִכְתִיב: "כִּי לֹא כָלוּ רַחֲמָיו וְכוּ'".

When a Jew echoes G‑d’s boundless kindness and compassion, his actions are thus termed “G‑d’s acts of kindness.”

And this is the meaning of the prophet’s words, after the Destruction and the exile: “The kindnesses of G‑d have surely not ended (ki lo tamnu).”43

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר הַנָּבִיא אַחַר הַחוּרְבָּן וְהַגָּלוּת: "חַסְדֵי ה' כִּי לֹא תָמְנוּ וְגוֹ'",

That is: “Because we are not perfect,44 inasmuch as we are not perfect (temimim) and whole, without any sin or blemish in our soul nor in the higher worlds,

פֵּירוּשׁ: לְפִי שֶׁ"לֹּא תָמְנוּ", שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ תְּמִימִים וּשְׁלֵמִים בְּלִי שׁוּם חֵטְא וּפְגַם בַּנֶּפֶשׁ וּבָעוֹלָמוֹת עֶלְיוֹנִים,

we therefore need to conduct ourselves in accordance with ‘G‑d’s kindnesses,’ that are without limit or end,

עַל כֵּן צְרִיכִין אָנוּ לְהִתְנַהֵג בְּחַסְדֵי ה' שֶׁהֵם בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

in order to call down upon ourselves supreme compassion, i.e., rav chesed, and unlimited, infinite compassion,

כְּדֵי לְעוֹרֵר עָלֵינוּ רַחֲמִים וְחֶסֶד עִילָּאָה, שֶׁהוּא רַב חֶסֶד וְרַחֲמִים בְּלִי גְבוּל וְתַכְלִית,

as it is written, at the conclusion of this verse, ‘for His mercies never cease….’”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "כִּי לֹא כָלוּ רַחֲמָיו וְגוֹ'".

Since we are in need of drawing down this level of compassion, our own practice of kindness must echo “G‑d’s kindness.”

Thus, the Prophet is telling the generations that follow the Destruction that they should practice unbounded kindness because they are not in a state of tamnu. Being imperfect, we need to arouse G‑d’s infinite kindness and compassion in order to rectify any sins and blemishes.

(Moreover, since these latter generations are too weak to engage in fasting and self-mortification, the only means now available to secure full atonement is through tzedakah.45)

And this is what our Sages, of blessed memory, meant by saying that “Israel will be redeemed only through charity.”46

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה",

[This refers to the charity] that they will perform even if they are legally not obligated,

שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ גַּם אִם יִהְיוּ פְּטוּרִים מִדִּינָא,

for “[Mashiach] the son of David will not come [until the pocket will be empty of even the smallest coin].”47

כִּי "אֵין בֶּן דָּוִד בָּא כוּ'":

I.e., even if (Heaven forfend) there will not be a solitary coin left in one’s pocket, tzedakah will still be given. And it is this boundless level of tzedakah that secures a complete atonement for the sins of our people, after which “they will immediately be redeemed.”48

The Rebbe explains that the Alter Rebbe does not conclude the above mentioned quotation about the precondition for the coming of Mashiach because it is quite possible that he did not want to write out the last words (viz., “until the pocket will be empty of even the smallest coin”), and this precondition of the Sages can be fulfilled on the spiritual level by conducting oneself with the humility of the destitute.

This could also explain why the Alter Rebbe does not say כְּשֶׁיִהְיוּ פְּטוּרִים (“when they are legally not obligated”) but rather אִם יִהְיוּ (“if they are legally not obligated”).




40.Psalms 103:17.

41.Yevamot 79a.

42.Lamentations 3:22.

43. See above, footnote 2.

44. Note by the Rebbe: “The proof being the Destruction and the exile.”

45. This is explained at length in Iggeret Hateshuvah, ch. 3 (in Vol. III of the present series).

46.See above, Epistle 9, footnote 23.

47.Sanhedrin 97a.

48.Rambam, Hilchot Teshuvah 7:5.