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Tanya for Shabbos, 27 Adar, 5777 - March 25, 2017

Tanya
As Divided for a Regular Year

Tanya for 27 Adar

26 Adar, 5777 - March 24, 201728 Adar, 5777 - March 26, 2017


In light of the above, [where it was explained that the advantage of the "active" mitzvot lies in their elevating effect on the body and vital soul], we can understand why our Sages so greatly extolled the virtue of charity, [8] declaring it equal to all the other mitzvot together.

In all of the Talmud Yerushalmi charity is called simply "The Commandment," for such was the idiomatic expression commonly used to refer to charity: "The Commandment," because charity is the core of all the mitzvot of action and surpasses them all.

For the purpose of all these mitzvot is only to elevate one's animal soul to G-d, since it is this vital soul that performs them and clothes itself in them, so as to be absorbed into the blessed Ein Sof-light clothed in them.

Now, you will find no other mitzvah in which the vital soul is clothed to the same extent as in the mitzvah of charity.

For in all other mitzvot only one faculty of the vital soul is clothed [e.g., the faculty of action in the hand donning Tefillin or holding an etrog]; and even this one faculty is clothed in the mitzvah] only while the mitzvah is being performed.

In the case of charity, however, which one gives from [the proceeds of] the toil of his hands, surely all the strength of his vital soul is clothed in [i.e., applied to] the effort of his labor, or in any other occupation by which he earned this money [which he now distributes for charity].

Thus when he gives to charity this money [to which he applied all the strength of his vital soul], his entire vital soul ascends to G-d.

[Hence the superiority of charity over other mitzvot.

But this seems to imply that if one does not invest all his strength into earning his livelihood, his charity lacks this quality; to which the Alter Rebbe rejoins]:

Even he who does not earn his livelihood from his labors, nevertheless, since he could have purchased with this money [that he gave for charity, sustenance for] the life of his vital soul, he is actually giving his soul's life to G-d [in the form of charity.

Thus, charity comprises and therefore elevates more energy of the vital soul than any other mitzvah].

This is why our Sages have said [9] that charity hastens the Messianic redemption:

For with one act of charity one elevates a great deal of the vital soul; more of its faculties and powers, in fact, than he might elevate through many other active mitzvot [combined].

[As mentioned earlier in this chapter, the Messianic Era is a result of our efforts in purifying and elevating the vital soul;

Charity, which effects this elevation in such great measure, thus hastens the redemption.

We see, at any rate, that charity is superior to all other mitzvot, including Torah study. But here one may object]:

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Bava Batra 9a.

  2. (Back to text) Ibid. 10a.



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