Iggeres Ha’Kodesh Epistle 12, Class 6

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Kodesh – The Holy Epistle, Epistle 12, Class 6


Now, it is well known that Jews by their very nature act compassionately and perform deeds of lovingkindness.23

וְהִנֵּה מוּדַעַת זֹאת, שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל בְּטִבְעָם הֵם רַחֲמָנִים וְגוֹמְלֵי חֲסָדִים,

[This is so] because their souls issue from G‑d’s attributes,

מִפְּנֵי הֱיוֹת נַפְשׁוֹתֵיהֶם נִמְשָׁכוֹת מִמִּדּוֹתָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

in which chesed prevails over the attribute of dingevurah, and tzimtzum,

אֲשֶׁר הַחֶסֶד גּוֹבֵר בָּהֶן עַל מִדַּת הַדִּין וְהַגְּבוּרָה וְהַצִּמְצוּם,

as it is written, “His chesed prevails over those who fear Him,”24 alluding to the fact that the Divine attribute of chesed prevails over the Divine attribute of gevurah.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “גָּבַר חַסְדּוֹ עַל יְרֵיאָיו”,

The soul is therefore called “daughter of the priest,” since it derives from the attribute of chesed which is called “Kohen,” as is written in the sacred Zohar.25

שֶׁלָּכֵן נִקְרֵאת הַנְּשָׁמָה “בַּת כֹּהֵן” כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ.

Since the soul derives from the Divine attributes which are dominated by kindness and compassion, Jews by their very nature are kind and compassionate.

Now, the charity that issues from this source—from the soul’s inherently kind and compassionate nature—is referred to as “the act of charity,”

וְהִנֵּה, הַצְּדָקָה הַנִּמְשֶׁכֶת מִבְּחִינָה זוֹ, נִקְרֵאת בְּשֵׁם “מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה”,

for the term “act” (maaseh) applies to that which is already done or which is constantly being done spontaneously,

כִּי שֵׁם “מַעֲשֶׂה” נוֹפֵל עַל דָּבָר שֶׁכְּבָר נַעֲשָׂה, אוֹ שֶׁנַּעֲשֶׂה תָּמִיד מִמֵּילָא

thus, something existent, common, and constant.

וְהִיא דָבָר הַהוֹוֶה וְרָגִיל תָּמִיד.

Here, too, with regard to tzedakah, that is motivated by the soul’s innate sense of kindness and compassion,

וְאַף כָּאן,

the trait of kindness and compassion is implanted in the souls of the entire House of Israel from aforetime,

הֲרֵי מִדַּת הַחֶסֶד וְהָרַחֲמָנוּת הוּטְבְּעָה בְּנַפְשׁוֹת כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכְּבָר

from the time that they were created and that they evolved from G‑d’s attributes,

מֵעֵת בְּרִיאוּתָן וְהִשְׁתַּלְשְׁלוּתָן מִמִּדּוֹתָיו יִתְבָּרֵךְ,

as it is written in regard to Adam’s soul entering his body, “And He blew into his nostrils [a soul of life],”26

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: “וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו כוּ’”,

[and we likewise say] concerning the entry of each and every soul into its individual body, “You blew it into me,”27

“וְאַתָּה נָפַחְתָּ בִּי”,

and “He who blows, [blows from within him,]”28 from his innermost being.

“וּמַאן דְּנָפַח כוּ’”,

So, too, in the analogue: Since the soul emanates from the inward aspect of the Divine attributes, it is infused with them as well so that the attribute of kindness dominates the soul even as it finds itself within the body.

Furthermore,29 in His goodness, [G‑d] renews the act (Maaseh) of creation every single day, and this includes the supernal attributes.

וְגַם בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם בְּטוּבוֹ מְחַדֵּשׁ מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית,

Likewise, with regard to souls below, [it is written,] “They are new every morning….”30

וַ”חֲדָשִׁים לַבְּקָרִים כוּ’”.

“Act” (maaseh) thus refers to a constant process, such as the renewal of the soul, with its characteristic traits of kindness and compassion. The “act of tzedakah” hence refers to the tzedakah which a Jew practices by virtue of these innate character traits.




23. Yevamot 79a; see Tanya, Part I, end of ch. 1.

24. Psalms 103:11.

25. Note by the Rebbe: “II, 95a.”

26. Genesis 2:7.

27. Liturgy, Morning Blessings (Siddur Tehillat Hashem, p. 6; Annotated Edition, p. 5); cf. Berachot 60b.

28. Cited above (Part I, ch. 2) in the name of the Zohar.

29. The clause that follows paraphrases a statement in Liturgy, Blessings of the Shema (Siddur Tehillat Hashem, p. 44; Annotated Edition, p. 41).

30. Lamentations 3:23.

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