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Tanya for Friday, 20 Elul, 5779 - September 20, 2019

As Divided for a Leap Year

Tanya for 20 Elul

19 Elul, 5779 - September 19, 201921 Elul, 5779 - September 21, 2019

Now, the above follows the exact requirements of the law. In fact, however, even in a case where such reasoning does not so fully apply, [I.e., even when (a) one is called upon to share not luxuries but one's own slice of bread, or even when (b) the poor are not crying out for food and clothing, but for other essentials,] it is not proper that any man insist on the letter of the law; rather, he should impose austerity on his own life and go far beyond the [demands of the] letter of the law.

Moreover, one should be concerned, [10] for his own sake, with the teaching of our Sages, [11] of blessed memory, that - [even in a situation where "that which is yours takes precedence over that which belongs to others"] - he who is exacting in this matter, [and does not go beyond the letter of the law], "will eventually be brought to this matter": [he himself will ultimately need charity, heaven forfend.]

And after all, all of us need the mercies of heaven at all times, [12] [which are elicited] only through an arousal from below, at all times and at every moment, by arousing our compassion for those who are in need of compassion. But whoever hardens his heart and suppresses his compassion, for whatever reason, causes the same above - [the suppression of Divine compassion], heaven forfend.

[All this however, affects only the future. The Rebbe Shlita, however, notes: "And the present as well, causing one to give until the recipient is equal `with you.'" (Cf. footnote 7, above.) There is, however, an aspect of tzedakah that also affects the past, and the Rebbe Shlita adds: "causing one to give to an even greater degree than what he keeps for himself, since this is" to secure the rectification and atonement of his past sins.]

After all, furthermore, [13] "There is not a righteous person upon earth who does good" - always - "and does not sin," and tzedakah atones, [14] and protects against misfortune and the like. [15]

[Charity] is thus an actual cure for body and soul, [16] with respect to which [it is written], [17] "Skin for skin - [a limb for a limb], and all that a man has he will give for his soul," [i.e., to save his life. Setting a limit to the amount one distributes for charity is thus just as unthinkable as limiting the sum one would spend in order to be cured and to stay alive.]

How much more does this apply, when we are [18] "believers, the descendants of believers," in the fact that charity is nothing other than a loan to the Holy One, blessed be He, [19] as it is written, [20] "He who is gracious unto the poor, lends unto G-d, and He will repay him his good deed" - twofold, in this world.

For the performance of none of the commandments is rewarded in this world - except for charity, [21] because it is beneficial to creatures, [22] as is written at the end of the first chapter of Kiddushin. [23]

Also, one should be concerned about punishment, [24] heaven forfend, when one's companions associate for the sake of a mitzvah and he does not join them, [25] [This would be the case if one were to absent oneself when the other members of one's community were joining forces for the sake of the charitable cause under discussion, viz., the Kollel Chabad Fund.] as is known from the words of our Sages, [26] of blessed memory, [who teach that standing aside in such circumstances is an instance of [27] "an absence for which one cannot [again] be counted."]

May life be pleasant for those who give heed, and may blessings of all kinds of goodness rest upon them. [28] "Act benevolently, O G-d, toward the good and the upright," [29] as is their wish and as is the wish of [the writer], who seeks their welfare with all his heart and soul.



  1. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: Concerned: (a) for the future, (b) for his own livelihood. [See footnote 12, below.]

  2. (Back to text) The wording in the Gemara (Bava Metzia 33a) is that "He who acts (and Rashi paraphrases, `is exacting') for himself in this matter will eventually be brought to this matter," heaven forfend. See also Dikdukei Sofrim.

  3. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita adds, ...with regard to: (a) the present, (b) for his children and health as well. [I.e., for the remaining two items in the trilogy of Cha-ye, Boni, Umezoni; cf. Moed Katan 28a.]

  4. (Back to text) Kohelet 7:20.

  5. (Back to text) See Devarim Rabbah 5:3.

  6. (Back to text) See Vayikra Rabbah, beginning of sec. 27.

  7. (Back to text) See Tanchuma, Mishpatim, sec. 15.

  8. (Back to text) Iyov 11:14. See also Iggeret HaTeshuvah, end of ch. 3.

  9. (Back to text) Shabbat 97a.

  10. (Back to text) See Bava Batra 10a, and commentaries there of Rashi and of the Chiddushei Aggadot of the Maharal.

  11. (Back to text) Mishlei 19:17.

  12. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita:

    The absence of reward in this world for other mitzvot would not seem to be relevant here, unlike the positive statement that follows it, regarding the reward for tzedakah. Its mention could be understood as alluding to yet another reason for giving tzedakah: nothing exists in this world by virtue of which one may be assured of sustenance, other than the giving of tzedakah (where, as the Alter Rebbe writes, one's contribution is rewarded `twofold').

  13. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: Though there seems to be no evident reason for citing the reason here, perhaps the Alter Rebbe is thereby hinting that even if the needy individual is unworthy of being included in the category of `your brother,' he is still worthy of your contribution inasmuch as he is nevertheless in the category of [G-d's] 'creatures'. (See Tanya, ch. 32.)

    This observation happily completes a series of lessons, in which the Alter Rebbe has been teaching us to overcome three possible restrictive interpretations of the above-quoted verse, Vechai Achicha Imach ` that your brother may live with you' (Vayikra 25:36): (a) though the verse obliges us to give `so that your brother may live,' one should not provide him only with the bare essentials; (b) `your brother' should not be interpreted so narrowly as to exclude mere `creatures'; (a) `with you' should bring the recipient to a state of more than mere equality with the donor.

  14. (Back to text) 40a.

  15. (Back to text) The Rebbe Shlita adds, ..and not only about not receiving the reward.

  16. (Back to text) Note of the Rebbe Shlita: Thus, even if one has already given as much tzedakah as he ought to, so that all the above considerations have been attended to, he must nevertheless give again when his companions join to perform a charitable mitzvah together. This is an original teaching first appearing in the above letter.

  17. (Back to text) Chagigah 9b; Berachot 26a.

  18. (Back to text) Kohelet 1:15.

  19. (Back to text) Cf. Mishlei 24:25.

  20. (Back to text) Cf. Tehillim 125:4.

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