וזהו: צדק לפניו יהלך

In these terms, too, we can understand the meaning of [the above-quoted phrase], “Righteousness (or charity) shall go (yehaleich) before Him (lefanav).

לפניו הוא מלשון פנימיות

The word lefanav shares a root with pnimiyut (“inwardness”),

ויהלך הוא מלשון הולכה

and yehaleich — the causative form of the verb, which appears in this verse in place of the expected form, yeilech (“shall go”) — shares a root with holachah (“leading”). It thus implies that charity does not itself “go before Him”: rather, it causes some other entity to “go before Him.”

שמוליך את פנימיות הלב לה׳

For [tzedakah] leads the innermost point of [a man’s] heart towards G‑d,

ואחר כך ישים לדרך ה׳ פעמיו

and then1 “he sets his steps2 towards the way of G‑d”׳—

כמו שכתוב: והלכת בדרכיו

as it is written,3 “And you shall walk in His ways,”

אחרי ה׳ אלקיכם תלכו

[and likewise,]4 “You shall go after the L‑rd your G‑d”׳—

בכל מעשה המצות, ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולן

with [his] entire performance of the commandments, and with [his]5 “study of Torah, which is equivalent to them all.”

שכולן עולין לה׳ על ידי פנימית הלב

For they all ascend to G‑d through the inwardness of the heart, which is revealed through the service of tzedakah,

ביתר שאת ומעלה מעלה מעלייתן לה׳ על ידי חיצוניות הלב

[and this ascent is] more intense and reaches far higher than their ascent to G‑d through the externality of the heart,

הנולד מהתבונה והדעת לבדן, בלי הארת פנים מלמעלה, אלא בבחינת הסתר פנים

[for this ascent] is born only of man’s contemplation and knowledge [of G‑dliness], without an illumination of the [Divine] “countenance” (i.e.,inwardness) from above, but in a state in which “the countenance is hidden.”

כי אין הפנים העליונים מאירים למטה אלא באתערותא דלתתא, במעשה הצדקה הנקרא שלום

For the Supernal “countenance” does not radiate downwards except through an arousal initiated from below, through an act of charity, charity being called “peace”.

וזה שכתוב: פדה בשלום נפשי

And this is the meaning of the verse that says,6 “He has redeemed my soul in peace”— or, “through peace.” This, as explained by our Sages,7 refers to tzedakah and acts of loving-kindness that are known as “peace”.

נפשי דייקא

[The verse speaks] expressly of “my soul,”8 inasmuch as it refers to the Shechinah found in the soul of each and every Jew, for the Divine spark that vitalizes the soul of every Jew is redeemed through “peace” — through tzedakah.

וזהו גם כן הטעם שנקרא הצדקה: שלום

This is also the reason for which charity is called “peace”,

לפי שנעשה שלום בין ישראל לאביהם שבשמים, כמאמר רז״ל

because according to the teaching of our Sages,9 of blessed memory, by virtue of charity “peace is made between Israel and their Father in heaven,”

דהיינו על ידי פדיון נפשותיהן, הם חלק ה׳ ממש, מידי החיצונים

through the redemption of their souls, which are truly a part of G‑d, from the grip of the forces of evil.

The Alter Rebbe wrote this letter, like most of the letters that comprise Iggeret HaKodesh, in connection with the charitable fund of Kollel Chabad in the Land of Israel. This fund supported R. Mendele Horodoker and his colleagues, together with their disciples, who had settled there. Hence the Alter Rebbe concludes:

ובפרט צדקת ארץ ישראל

This is especially the case with charity for the Land of Israel,

שהיא צדקת ה׳ ממש

for it is truly the charity of G‑d, since it is directed to a place where the Divine Name is revealed,

כמו שכתוב: תמיד עיני ה׳ אלקיך בה

[to a Land of which] it is written,10 “The eyes — i.e., the most quintessential efflux and attention — of the L‑rd your G‑d are constantly upon it.”

והיו עיני ולבי שם כל הימים

[In this vein it is also written,]11 “And My eyes and My heart will be there at all times.”

והיא שעמדה לנו לפדות חיי נפשנו מעצת החושבים לדחות פעמינו

It is this [charity for the Holy Land] that has stood by us to redeem the life of our souls from the counsel of those who seek to repel our steps, i.e., those who desire to harm us.

ותעמוד לנו לעד, לשום נפשנו בחיים אמיתים מחיי החיים

And this [charity] will stand by us forever — to set our souls in the true life of the Fountainhead of Life,

לאור באור חיים, אשר יאר ה׳ פניו אתנו סלה

so that we will be12 “enlightened with the light of life” which G‑d13 “will make His Face radiate with us, Selah.

אמן, כן יהי רצון

Amen, may this be His will.

——— ● ———