Having first duly inquired after the welfare of those who love [G-d’s] Name,

אַחַר דְּרִישַׁת שְׁלוֹמָם, כְּמִשְׁפָּט לְאוֹהֲבֵי שְׁמוֹ,

This pastoral letter was written by the Alter Rebbe to rouse those of his followers who had pledged an annual contribution to Kollel Chabad. This fund supported their fellow Chasidim who had settled in the Land of Israel, where they now studied Torah and engaged in Divine service. The Alter Rebbe here urges that instead of waiting until the end of the year, his followers should give part of the promised sum weekly or at least monthly. For apart from the quality of alacrity, the eager promptness that ought to be displayed during the performance of mitzvot in general and the mitzvah of tzedakah (“charity”) in particular, there is an additional quality involved, as will soon be explained.

The Alter Rebbe begins this epistle by greeting his fellow Jews as “lovers of G-d’s Name.”1 This appellation especially suits those helping their brethren who serve G-d in the Holy Land. For upon this land “G-d’s gaze is fixed constantly,”2 and this verse uses G-d’s ineffable Name Havayah, indicating that the Land is directly illuminated and animated by the sublime level of Divinity indicated by that singular and unique Name.

those among the people who willingly volunteer to practice the righteous charitability of G-d toward His Holy Land

אֶל הַמִּתְנַדְּבִים בָּעָם, לַעֲשׂוֹת צִדְקַת ה' עִם אַרְצוֹ הַקְּדוֹשָׁה,

by giving every year a set sum of money for [the inhabitants of] our Holy Land (May it be rebuilt and established speedily, in our days!),

לָתֵת מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה חוֹק הַקָּצוּב מָעוֹת אֶרֶץ הַקּוֹדֶשׁ, תִּבָּנֶה וְתִכּוֹנֵן בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ,

“may my word [call]”3 to them and “my speech trickle like dew”4

אֲלֵיהֶם תִּטּוֹף מִלָּתִי, וְתִזַּל כַּטַּל אִמְרָתִי,

in order to bestir those who are [naturally] swift, for “One hurries only the swift,”5

לְזָרֵז לִזְרִיזִים,

and to strengthen weak hands,6 for their unquestioned willingness7 is hampered only by their poverty,

וּלְחַזֵּק יָדַיִם רָפוֹת

so that they should contribute moneys for the Land of Israel every week, or at least every month,8 from the amount assigned for the year, proportionately,

בְּמַתַּן דָּמִים מָעוֹת אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִדֵּי שַׁבָּת בְּשַׁבַּתּוֹ, וּלְפָחוֹת מִדֵּי חֹדֶשׁ בְּחָדְשׁוֹ, מֵעֶרְכּוֹ הַקָּצוּב לְעֵרֶךְ שָׁנָה,

as well as all the “dedicated money”9 that each individual was inspired to donate annually (without a vow) for the support of our brethren who live in the Holy Land.

וְכָל כֶּסֶף הַקֳּדָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר עָלָה עַל לֵב אִישׁ לְהִתְנַדֵּב בְּלִי נֶדֶר לְפַרְנָסַת אַחֵינוּ יוֹשְׁבֵי אֶרֶץ הַקּוֹדֶשׁ, מִדֵּי שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה.

It would seem that in these last few lines, the Alter Rebbe means to add the following: Not only are the amounts that were always given in previous years to be given henceforth on a weekly or monthly basis, but additional amounts are to be divided likewise.

For, first of all, everyone knows the great virtue of alacrity with respect to all commandments, which is spoken of repeatedly in the words of our Sages, of blessed memory. [For example:] “At all times should one be prompt in [fulfilling] a commandment.”10

כִּי הִנֵּה, מִלְּבַד הַיָּדוּעַ לַכֹּל גּוֹדֶל מַעֲלַת הַזְּרִיזוּת בְּכָל הַמִּצְוֹת, הַנֶּאֱמַר וְנִשְׁנָה בְּדִבְרֵי רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "לְעוֹלָם יַקְדִּים אָדָם לִדְבַר מִצְוָה כוּ'",

So, too, it is [the merit of] “the eager promptness of our father Abraham”11 (peace upon him), who hastened to the akedah, the binding of Isaac,12 that stands by us and our children, for ever.

וּזְרִיזוּתֵיהּ דְּאַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם הִיא הָעוֹמֶדֶת לָעַד, לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד עוֹלָם,

For the akedah itself, which G-d constantly recalls, is not really regarded as so great a test in relation to the stature of our father Abraham, peace upon him,

כִּי הָעֲקֵדָה עַצְמָהּ אֵינָהּ נֶחְשָׁבָה כָּל כָּךְ לְנִסָּיוֹן גָּדוֹל לְעֵרֶךְ מַעֲלַת אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם,

especially considering that G-d Himself said to him, “Please take your son…[and bring him as an offering].”13

בְּשֶׁגַּם, כִּי ה' דִּיבֶּר בּוֹ: "קַח נָא אֶת בִּנְךָ כוּ'"

After all, there have been numerous saintly individuals who gave their lives for the sanctification of G-d, even though He did not speak to them.

וַהֲרֵי כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה קְדוֹשִׁים שֶׁמָּסְרוּ נַפְשָׁם עַל קְדוּשַּׁת ה' גַּם כִּי לֹא דִיבֶּר ה' בָּם.

How, then, can this be considered such a great test for Abraham when G-d Himself commanded him to offer his son?

The point is that our father Abraham (peace upon him) did this with wondrous alacrity, for, as the verse testifies, “Abraham rose very early and [himself14] saddled his donkey,”15

רַק שֶׁאַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו־הַשָּׁלוֹם עָשָׂה זֹאת בִּזְרִיזוּת נִפְלָאָה,

in order to demonstrate—to others as well—his joy and eager desire to fulfill the will of his Master and to bring gratification to his Maker.

לְהַרְאוֹת שִׂמְחָתוֹ וְחֶפְצוֹ לְמַלֹּאות רְצוֹן קוֹנוֹ וְלַעֲשׂוֹת נַחַת רוּחַ לְיוֹצְרוֹ.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, explains in a discourse dated the 12th of Tammuz 570916 that the Divine service of penitents should involve affecting others as well. Now, the challenge of the akedah required that Abraham, the epitome of love and kindness, reverse his essential nature, in which the attribute of chesed predominated, and act with all the severity of the attribute of gevurah. (Hence, G-d answers, “I now know that you fear G-d.”17) In this diametrical reversal, Abraham resembled a penitent. And, like a penitent, he sought to share with others his delight at fulfilling G-d’s will.

Indeed, it was from [the example of Abraham], and with the power that he vested within all his descendants, that our Sages (of blessed memory)18 learned [that alacrity is required] in the fulfillment of all the commandments in general, and in particular with respect to the act of charity, which is superior to them all,19

וּמִמֶּנּוּ לָמְדוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה לְקִיּוּם כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת בִּכְלָל, וּבִפְרָט מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה הָעוֹלָה עַל כּוּלָּנָה

in that it protects and saves one—by its20 “fruits [that are repaid] in this world”21—from all kinds of calamities that may come about,

הַמְּגִינָּה וּמַצְּלָה בְּפֵירוֹתֶיהָ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה מִכָּל מִינֵי פּוּרְעָנִיּוֹת הַמִּתְרַגְּשׁוֹת,

as it is written, “and tzedakah saves from death,”22 and how much more so from other kinds of suffering that are milder than death.

כְּדִכְתִיב: "וּצְדָקָה תַּצִּיל מִמָּוֶת", וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן מִשְּׁאָר מִינֵי יִסּוּרִים הַקַּלִּים מִמָּוֶת

It is thus certainly to our benefit, even in this world, to be as expeditious as possible in [the giving of charity], even more so than in the fulfillment of other commandments, whose reward may not be as palpable in this world,

כָּל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁטּוֹב לָנוּ גַּם בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה לְהַקְדִּימָהּ כָּל מַה דְּאֶפְשָׁר,

for, after all, “A man is judged every day”23 so that it is quite possible that he is in need of the merit of today’s tzedakah to protect him from today’s judgment.

שֶׁהֲרֵי אָדָם נִידּוֹן בְּכָל יוֹם: