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זורע צדקות, מצמיח ישועות

[It is written:] “He sows tzedakot and causes deliverance to sprout forth.”1

Tzedakot, the plural form of tzedakah, can mean both “acts of righteousness” and “acts of charity.”

הנה מה שכתוב לשון זריעה במצות הצדקה

The use of the idiom “sowing” in relation to the commandment of charity,

וכמו שכתוב בפסוק: זרעו לכם לצדקה גו׳

and likewise in the verse,2 “Sow for yourselves for tzedakah, [and reap according to the measure of Chesed],”

יובן על פי מה שאמרו רז״ל: רבי אליעזר יהיב פרוטה לעני, והדר מצלי, דכתיב: אני בצדק אחזה פניך

may be understood in the light of a teaching of our Sages:3Rabbi Eliezer would give a coin to a poor person, and would then pray, for it is written,4 ‘Through tzedek will I behold Your face,’” and tzedek (“righteousness”) is closely related to tzedakah (“charity”).


This means, i.e., the reason prayer is deemed “seeing G‑d’s face,” and the reason why this is attained by prefacing prayer with charity is:

כי גילוי אלקותו יתברך, המתגלה במחשבתו של אדם וכונתו בתפלה

that the manifestation of Divinity — which is revealed in the thought of man and in his devotion during prayer,

כל חד לפום שיעורא דיליה

in each individual according to his own measure —

הוא בתורת צדקה וחסד ה׳ מעולם ועד עולם על יראיו

is [granted to man] by way of Divine charity, and by [the descent of]5 “G‑d’s lovingkindness from world to world upon those who fear Him....”

כלומר, שאור ה׳ אין סוף ברוך הוא, המאיר למעלה בעולמות עליונים בהארה רבה, בבחינת גילוי רב ועצום

This means that the light of G‑d, the [infinite] Ein Sof, radiates with so (quantitatively) great and so (qualitatively) intense a manifestation in the higher worlds above,

עד שבאמת הן בטלין במציאות, וכלא ממש חשיבי קמיה

that they (and the beings which inhabit them) are truly in a state of self-nullification, and considered as truly naught before Him,

ונכללין באורו יתברך

and are absorbed in His light.

והן הן ההיכלות עם המלאכים והנשמות שבהן, המבוארים בזהר הקדוש בשמותם למקומותם, בסדר התפלה שסדרו לנו אנשי כנסת הגדולה

These [higher worlds] are the heichalot, with the angels and souls within them, that are spoken of in the sacred Zohar by their names and according to their places [and levels, as alluded to] in the liturgy arranged for us by the Men of the Great Assembly.

הנה משם מאיר האור כי טוב לעולם השפל הזה

Now, this6 “light, which is good,” radiates from there to this lowly world,

על יראי ה׳ וחושבי שמו

upon7 “those that fear G‑d and meditate upon His Name,”

החפצים לעבדו בעבודה שבלב, זו תפלה

who desire to worship Him with the8 “service of the heart, meaning prayer.”

וכמו שכתוב: וה׳ יגיה חשכי

As it is written,9 “And G‑d will enlighten my darkness,” even in this world, which is so lowly that G‑dliness is generally not manifest here.

והנה ירידת הארה זו למטה, לעולם הזה, נקראת בשם חסד ה׳

Now, the descent of this illumination downwards to this world, is called “G‑d’s kindness,”

For though this illumination is drawn down as a response to the divine service of the Jew, it outshines it out of all proportion. Its bestowal upon the lower worlds is thus truly an act of “G‑d’s kindness,”

המכונה בשם מים, היורדים ממקום גבוה למקום נמוך כו׳

which is referred to as water,10 for it descends from a high place to a low place....11

“G‑d’s kindness” is drawn down through man’s “arousal initiated from below.” It is thus the coin that one gives a pauper that grants the giver the gift of “beholding G‑d’s face” — the internal aspect of G‑dliness — during prayer. In this way, man’s kindness and tzedakah elicit G‑d’s kindness and tzedakah.

However, the following must be understood: Since the Divine illumination must inevitably result from G‑d’s attribute of kindness and His tzedakah, why is man’s service necessary at all?

The Alter Rebbe answers this question by explaining that parallel to the above attribute, there also exists a Divine attribute of severity and contraction, that seeks to limit and screen the diffusion of the G‑dly light. It is man’s practice of kindness and tzedakah that ensures that the attribute of severity and Gevurah will not hinder the flow of Divine radiance that is to be revealed to him during prayer.

והנה מודעת זאת שיש למעלה גם כן מדת הגבורה והצמצום

Now it is well known that Above there is also an attribute of Gevurah and tzimtzum

לצמצם ולהסתיר אורו יתברך, לבל יתגלה לתחתונים

that serves to contract and conceal the Divine light so that it will not become revealed to the lower worlds.

How is it, then, that this illumination is nevertheless revealed below?

אך הכל תלוי באתערותא דלתתא

However, everything depends on [man’s] arousal from below.

שאם האדם מתנהג בחסידות, להשפיע חיים וחסד כו׳

For if a man conducts himself with kindness, by bestowing life and Chesed..., through acts of charity that sustain the unfortunate,

כך מעורר למעלה

he arouses its equivalent Above, so that Divine kindness and illumination are bestowed upon him as well.

כמו שאמרו רז״ל: במדה שאדם מודד בה, מודדין לו

For, as our Sages, of blessed memory, said,12 “With the measure a man metes, it shall be measured to him.” When an individual acts in a kindly manner towards his fellow, he will be treated with kindness from Above.

אלא דלכאורה זו אינה מן המדה, כי אם להשפיע לו חיי העולם הבא לבד, כנגד מה שהוא משפיע חיי עולם הזה

It would appear, however, that this [Divine response] is not of the same measure. [Such an individual would appear to deserve] only that the life of the World to Come be granted to him, corresponding to his bestowal of life in this world,

The appropriate reward for man’s bestowal of physical life in his world should surely be a corresponding bestowal of spiritual life in a higher world, the World to Come.

אבל לא להשפיע לו חיי הארת אור ה׳ נוסח אחר: אין סוף ברוך הוא ממש

but not that he be granted the life that comes from the illumination of the actual light of G‑d,13

שיאיר ויגיה חשכו בעבודה שבלב, זו תפלה

to illumine and enlighten his darkness in “the service of the heart, meaning prayer.”

שהיא בחינת ומדרגת תשובה עילאה, כנודע

For the latter is a grade and level of “higher-level repentance” (teshuvah ilaah), as is well known,14 and as such is far superior to his actions,

שהרי היא למעלה מעלה מכל חיי עולם הבא

inasmuch as it far surpasses all the life of the World to Come.

כמו שאמרו רז״ל: יפה שעה אחת בתשובה ומעשים טובים כו׳

As our Sages, of blessed memory, taught:15 “Better one hour of repentance and good deeds [in this world than all the life of the World to Come],”

וכמו שכתוב במקום אחר באריכות, דעולם הבא אינו אלא זיו והארה וכו׳

as explained elsewhere16 at length — that the World to Come is but a gleam and reflection [of the Divine Presence].

This leaves us with an apparent disproportion — that the practice of tzedakah before one’s prayers should result in the vastly superior revelation of teshuvah ilaah during prayer.

אך הענין הוא, על דרך משל, כמו שזורעין זרעים או נוטעין גרעין

The above concept, however, can be understood by the analogy of sowing seeds of grain or planting kernels of fruit:

שהשבולת הצומחת מהזרע, והאילן ופירותיו מהגרעין

the shoot that sprouts from the seed, and the tree with its fruits from the kernel,

אינן מהותן ועצמותן של הזרע והגרעין כלל

are not the very essence and being of the seed or the kernel at all,

כי מהותם ועצמותם כלה ונרקב בארץ

for their essence and being has been spent and is decayed in the soil, and they are thus not the source of the vegetative property.

וכח הצומח שבארץ עצמה נוסח אחר: עצמו, הוא המוציא והמגדל השבולת והאילן ופירותיו

It is the vegetative property in the soil itself rather than the particular vegetative power that resulted in the seed or the kernel which brings about the growth of the shoot or the tree and its fruit;

The vegetative power of growth is a Divine faculty that enables physical growth to result from a spiritual property, in a manner of creation ex nihilo. But if the actual growth of any grain or fruit results from the universal power of vegetative growth and not from a particular seed or kernel, then why plant them in the first place? The answer is:

רק שאינו מוציא ומגלה כחו לחוץ, מהכח אל הפועל

it is only that [the earth’s vegetative power] does not manifest its power outwardly, from the potential to the actual,

כי אם על ידי הזרע והגרעין

except by means of the seed or the kernel

שנרקבין בארץ, וכלה כל כחם בכח הצומח שבארץ

that are decayed in the soil and whose whole power — the power of growth that originated in the earth’s vegetative property that was implanted in them as they grew — has been consumed by the vegetative property in the soil,

ונתאחדו והיו לאחדים

so that they unite and become one. I.e., the particular power of growth, that resulted in the seed or kernel, unites with the earth’s universal vegetative property.

ועל ידי זה מוציא כח הצומח את כחו אל הפועל, ומשפיע חיות לגדל שבולת כעין הזרע

In this way the vegetative property actualizes its potential, and effuses vitality that makes possible the growth of a shoot that is related to the seed that was sown,

אבל בריבוי הרבה מאד בשבולת אחת

though with a very great increase in any single shoot, so that one ear of corn comprises many grains,

וכן פירות הרבה על אילן אחד

and likewise, there are many fruits on a single tree.

וגם מהותן ועצמותן של הפירות מעולה, בעילוי רב ועצום, למעלה מעלה ממהותו ועצמותו של הגרעין הנטוע

Moreover, the very nature and essence of the fruits immensely excels the nature and essence of the planted kernel, in that the bland and tasteless kernel serves as the source for delicious fruit.

וכן כהאי גוונא בפירות הארץ, הגדלים מזרעונין כעין גרעינין, כמו קשואים וכהאי גוונא

The same is true of the produce of the earth which grows from seeds just like kernels, such as cucumbers, and the like.

Thus, fruits and vegetables are not only quantitatively superior to the kernels that served as their respective sources, but are qualitatively superior as well. (The difference between grain and its original seed, however, is only one of quantity.)

והכל הוא מפני שעיקר ושרש חיות הפירות נשפע מכח הצומח שבארץ

All this is so because the stem and root of the vitality of the fruits issues from the vegetative property in the soil,

הכולל חיות כל הפירות

which includes the vitality of all fruits and causes them to grow,

Nevertheless, a kernel — moreover, the kernel of the specific species desired — must be sown, as is now explained:

והגרעינין הזרועים בארץ אינן אלא כעין אתערותא דלתתא

while the kernels that are sown in the ground are only like an “arousal from below,” that is necessary if one is to elicit a reciprocal “arousal from Above,”

הנקרא בשם העלאת מיין נוקבין בכתבי האריז״ל

this [“arousal from below”] being referred to in the writings of Rabbi Isaac Luria, of blessed memory, as the “elevation of mayin nukvin(commonly abbreviated מ״נ) — the arousal of the “feminine waters” that serve as the recipient of the efflux of the “male waters.”

The same applies here as well: The power of vegetative growth is a spiritual power that encompasses all fruits and vegetables. Its spiritual state is such that it is far too lofty to descend spontaneously to a level at which it can make physical produce grow. The actual growth can only come about as a result of the “elevation of the feminine waters” of a particular fruit or grain. This arouses within the universal vegetative proper-ty the particular manifestation necessary for the growth of the specific kind of produce that is inherent in the kernel or seed that is sown.

At any rate, it is clear from the above that vegetative growth entails producing something far superior to that which was sown in the ground.

Reverting to the analogue, the Alter Rebbe will now explain how man’s tzedakah and kindness effect a Divine manifestation that utterly transcends man’s service. This results in his receiving as a reward for his actions not only a share in the World to Come — a corresponding measure, albeit quantitatively superior, for both this world and the World to Come are categorized as “worlds” — but also the qualitatively superior revelation of teshuvah ilaah, that transcends by far any state that could be called a “world”.

וככה ממש, על דרך משל, כל מעשה הצדקה שעושין ישראל

Now precisely like this, metaphorically speaking, every act of charity that Jews perform

עולה למעלה בבחינת העלאת מ״נ, לשורש נשמותיהן למעלה

ascends, like an “elevation of mayin nukvin,” to the Root of their souls Above,

Just as in the analogy, planting a seed will unveil the earth’s vegetative power, so, too, the Jew’s act of charity will elicit the Divine attribute of Chesed, since this act serves as the mayin nukvin to its spiritual counterpart Above,

הנקרא בשם כנסת ישראל

which is referred to17 as Knesset Yisrael (lit., “the Congregation of Israel”),

(a) because it is the source of Jewish souls, and (b) because within it congregate the lights and revelations of the emotive attributes (the middot) that derive from ישראל דלעילא (“Supernal Israel”), i.e., the bracket of six Sefirot known as ז״א of the World of Atzilut.

ואימא תתאה, בלשון הזהר

and in the terminology of the Zohar [the source of Jewish souls is known as] imma tataah, the “lower-level mother,”

Binah, by contrast, is termed imma ilaah, the “higher-level mother” (inasmuch as it is the “mother” of the attributes of ז״א), while Malchut is referred to as the “lower-level mother” (since it is the “mother” of the world that follows it).

ושכינה, בלשון הגמרא

and in the phraseology of the Talmud [the source of the souls of Israel is known as] the Shechinah,

It is so called because it “rests” (from the root שכן; i.e., it descends and is present) in lowly levels.18

הכלולה מכל מדותיו של הקב״ה, ומיוחדת בהן בתכלית

which comprises, and is utterly united with, all the attributes of the Holy One, blessed is He,

וראשיתן היא מדת החסד

the first of which is the attribute of Chesed.

Man’s neighborly acts of Chesed ascend, as a form of mayin nukvin, to this Divine attribute of Chesed, for it is the source of the attribute of Chesed within his own soul.

ועל ידי העלאה זו, מתעורר חסד ה׳ ממש

Now, through this elevation, the actual “Chesed of G‑d” — which is immeasurably superior to man’s Chesed and to worlds in general — is aroused,

שהוא גילוי אורו יתברך, לירד ולהאיר למטה לנשמות ישראל, בבחינת גילוי רב ועצום

so that a great and intense revelation of His light descends into this lowly [world], where it lights up the souls of Israel,

בשעת התפלה, על כל פנים

at least during the time of prayer, even if not permanently.

כי אף שלגדולתו אין חקר

For though19 “His greatness is unfathomable,” and גדולה (“greatness”) denotes the Divine attribute of Chesed,20

עד דכולא קמיה כלא חשיבי

to the extent that21 “all are esteemed as naught before Him,”

How, then, does it descend below and become capable of being fathomed by the Jewish soul?

הרי במקום שאתה מוצא גדולתו, שם אתה מוצא ענותנותו

even so,22 “Where you find His greatness, there you find His humility,”

Hence, the very greatness and Chesed of G‑d always find expression in His “humility”, i.e., in His ability to descend and reveal Himself to the nethermost levels,

כמים שיורדין כו׳

like “water, which descends [from above to below].”

G‑d’s kindness may thus be likened to water in its ability to manifest itself within a Jew’s soul in this lowly world.

וזהו שכתוב: זרח בחשך אור לישרים, חנון ורחום וצדיק

And this is [implied] in the verse:23 “He shone in the darkness as a light unto the upright, [He] that is gracious, and merciful, and tzaddik.”

דעל ידי שהאדם חנון ורחום וצדיק, צדקות אהב

For, by being gracious and merciful, and24tzaddik — fond of tzedakot,” i.e., by performing acts of tzedakah with kindness and love, man

גורם לאור ה׳ שיזרח לנשמתו המלובשת בגופו, העומד בחשך

causes the light of G‑d to shine into his soul which is vested in his body — which stands in darkness,

שהוא משכא דחויא

since it is the “hide of the snake.”25

G‑d nevertheless causes His light to shine into the soul, even as the soul finds itself within the gloom of the unenlightened body.

וזה נקרא בשם ישועה, כד אתהפכא חשוכא לנהורא

And this state, when26 “darkness is converted to light,” is referred to as “deliverance”, as when a man, delivered from danger, is transported from darkness to radiance.

וזהו מצמיח ישועות

This, then, is the meaning [of the above-quoted phrase], “and causes deliverance to sprout forth,” as a result of one’s having “sown tzedakah.”

שישועה זו צומחת מזריעת הצדקה שזורעין בארץ העליונה

For this salvation sprouts from the charity that is sown in the “Supernal Land,”

ארץ חפץ, היא השכינה וכנסת ישראל, שנקראת כן על שם שמתלבשת בתחתונים להחיותם

the “Desired Land,” which is the Shechinah, and Knesset Yisrael, the source of Jewish souls, so called because it vests itself in the lower worlds to animate them.

כמו שכתוב: מלכותך מלכות כל עולמים

As it is written,27 “Your sovereignty (an allusion to the Sefirah of Malchut) is the sovereignty (i.e., it serves as the source) of all worlds.”

It is this Supernal “Land” that is sown with a Jew’s tzedakah, with the result that Divine revelation sprouts forth during prayer.

ובפרט מן הפרט, כשזורעין בארץ הקודש התחתונה

This applies most particularly when one sows in the nether Holy Land,

The above applies to mitzvot in general, all of them being called tzedakah, as Scripture states,28 “Our performance of all the commandments will be accounted for us as tzedakah.” Particu-larly so, through the actual performance of tzedakah, in the sense of charity. It applies even more particularly when the tzedakah is planted in the Holy Land, maintaining those who study Torah and serve G‑d there.

המכוונת כנגדה ממש

which truly corresponds to it (i.e., the Holy Land below is truly located “opposite” the Holy Land in heaven).

שהזריעה נקלטת תיכף ומיד ממש בארץ העליונה

For (when such charity is given) the seed [of tzedakah] is immediately absorbed in the Supernal Land,

בלי שום מניעה ועיכוב בעולם

without any obstacle and hindrance whatever,

מאחר שאין שום דבר חוצץ ומפסיק כלל בין ארצות החיים

because there is nothing whatsoever that intervenes and intercepts between the “Lands of Life,” i.e,., between the Supernal “Land of Life,” which is the source of Jewish souls, and the “Land of Life” below, the physical Holy Land;

כי זה שער השמים

for29 “it is the gate of Heaven,” referring to the location of the Holy Temple in the Holy Land.

מה שאין כן בחוץ לארץ

This is not so, however, outside the Holy Land, where various factors may hinder the implantation of tzedakah in the “Land of Life” Above.

ודי למבין

This will suffice for the discerning.

Liturgy, the morning prayers (Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 44).
Hoshea 10:12.
Bava Batra 10a.
Tehillim 17:15.
Ibid. 103:16.
Cf. Bereishit 1:4.
Cf. Malachi 3:16.
Beginning of Tractate Taanit.
II Samuel 22:29.
Zohar II, 175b.
Cf. Tikkunei Zohar 69:105a.
Sotah 5b.
V.L.: “the actual [infinite] Ein Sof-light.”
Iggeret HaTeshuvah, ch. 10.
Avot 4:17.
Likkutei Amarim, Part I, conclusion of ch. 4, et al.
Note of the Rebbe: “Cf. Part I beginning of ch. 52: ‘And this source...’ Here is not the place to elaborate upon the differences.”
See also later in the present Epistle; and see Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 41.
Tehillim 145:3.
Cf. Likkutei Amarim, Part II, ch. 4.
Zohar I, 11b.
Megillah 31a (according to the text of Ein Yaakov).
Tehillim 112:4.
Cf. ibid. 11:7.
Introduction to Tikkunei Zohar 10b, et al.
Cf. Likkutei Amarim, Part I, ch. 27.
Tehillim 145:13.
Devarim 6:25.
Bereishit 28:17, and commentaries of Rashi and Targum, loc. cit.
Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
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