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I Will Write It In Their Hearts - Volume 1
Letters from the Lubavitcher Rebbe

The distinctive quality of spiritual tzedakah

Translated by: Rabbi Eli Touger

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  Disseminating the publications of Merkos L'Inyonei ChinuchTable of contentsQuestions regarding the source of quotations found in the texts of Chassidus  

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No. 98

The published copy of this letter does not mention the identity of the recipient.
[22 Elul, 5703]
... To conclude with a matter of immediate relevance: Our Sages noted that the verse[1] Ish Le'rei'eihu UMatonos L'evyonim serves as an acronym for the name Elul indicating that in Elul, we should eagerly give to tzedakah. The Rambam writes (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4) that "It is customary for the entire House of Israel to give profusely to charity from Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur more than throughout the year." If this applies to charity that endows a person with life in this world, it certainly applies to charity that endows a person with life in the World to Come, as reflected in the Mishnah (Bava Metzia 33a).[2]

It is possible to explain that there is an added advantage to [giving] tzedakah that has spiritual intents over tzedakah which endows a person with life in this material world. With regard to the latter, at times, there may be drawbacks, because [at times], the poor who [receive the charity] are not worthy. As our Sages commented (Bava Basra 9b): "They were caused to blunder, because of people who were unfit, so that they would not receive reward." Certainly, this applies if the charity is used to sway young children away from the [Jewish] faith.

When, by contrast, the charity is used to endow people with the life of the World to Come, there are no possibilities of such shortcomings. How much more so does this apply when [the tzedakah is being used] for the education of children and the strengthening of the observance of the Torah and its mitzvos by adults?! In such instances, there is no suspicion that one will be teaching a student who possesses an unrefined character (Chullin 133a; in particular, it is possible to explain that this prohibition applies only when there is an alternative, as the Alter Rebbe writes in his Shulchan Aruch, Hilchos Talmud Torah, Kuntres Acharon, ch. 4, note 1).

May it be G-d's will that through "G-d, tzedakah is Yours,"[3] we - and the entire Jewish people - be inscribed for a good and sweet year.

   

Notes:

  1. (Back to text) Esther 9:22.

  2. (Back to text) [That mishnah gives precedence to a teacher over a father, because "the father endowed (the person) with life in this world, while the teacher endows him with life in the World to Come."]

  3. (Back to text) [This phrase begins the main body of the Selichos prayers which are recited before Rosh HaShanah.]


  Disseminating the publications of Merkos L'Inyonei ChinuchTable of contentsQuestions regarding the source of quotations found in the texts of Chassidus  


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