We learned above that the Zohar teaches: “Who makes the Holy Name every day? He who gives charity to the poor.” The relevance of this answer, however, remained obscure. Now, therefore, equipped with the foregoing insights, we revert to the question with which this epistle opened: How does giving tzedakah to the poor “make a Name” for G-d?

The Alter Rebbe explains as follows:

Now with terrestrial man, for example, when one who is so great a sage as to comprehend the wonders of wisdom

וְהִנֵּה, בָּאָדָם הַתַּחְתּוֹן לְמָשָׁל, מִי שֶׁהוּא חָכָם גָּדוֹל לְהַשְׂכִּיל נִפְלְאוֹת חָכְמָה,

contracts his conception and thought into a single letter of his speech,

וּמְצַמְצֵם שִׂכְלוֹ וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ בְּאוֹת אֶחָד מִדִּבּוּרוֹ,

this is a stupendous contraction and a great descent for his wondrous wisdom.

הִנֵּה זֶה הוּא צִמְצוּם עָצוּם וִירִידָה גְדוֹלָה לְחָכְמָתוֹ הַנִּפְלָאָה,

Precisely as in this analogy but infinitely more so, there was an immensely great and mighty contraction

כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ עַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, וְיָתֵר מִזֶּה לְאֵין קֵץ – הָיָה צִמְצוּם גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וְרַב,

when during the Six Days of Creation “the heavens were made by the word of G-d, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth,”41

כַּאֲשֶׁר "בִּדְבַר ה' שָׁמַיִם נַעֲשׂוּ", בְּשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי בְרֵאשִׁית, "וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו כָּל צְבָאָם",

i.e., by the letter hey, “a light letter” of the Four-Letter Name of G-d.

הִיא אוֹת ה' שֶׁל שֵׁם הַוָיָ' בָּרוּךְ־הוּא, "אָתָא קַלִּילָא",

This is not only a single letter but also an insubstantial one.

Thus, it is written, “[These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar’am42 (i.e., ‘when they were created’). By revocalizing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages read it as if it were simultaneously pronounced b’hey bra’am.43 The verse would now mean, “These are the chronicles of heaven and earth; with the letter hey, He created them.”

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "בְּהִבָּרְאָם" – "בְּה' בְּרָאָם",

[This letter hey] is the source of the nine creative utterances which issued from the first utterance: Bereishit (“In the beginning”), which itself is a creative utterance,44

הִיא מְקוֹר הַט' מַאֲמָרוֹת שֶׁנִמְשְׁכוּ מִמַּאֲמָר רִאשׁוֹן "בְּרֵאשִׁית" דְּ"נַמֵי מַאֲמָר הוּא",

and identical with the sefirah of chochmah,45 which is called reishit (as in the phrase reishit chochmah, “the beginning of wisdom”46).

הִיא בְּחִינַת חָכְמָה הַנִּקְרֵאת "רֵאשִׁית".

The descent of chochmah, the source of the other nine creative utterances, into malchut, the lowest of the sefirot, involves an intense degree of contraction.

However, at that time, at the beginning of creation, this downward flow from chochmah to malchut occurred without any arousal from below whatsoever,

אַךְ אָז הָיְתָה הַמְשָׁכָה וִירִידָה זוֹ בְּלִי אִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא כְּלָל,

[as it is written,] “For there was no man47 to work”48 and bring about this arousal;

כִּי "אָדָם אַיִן לַעֲבוֹד כוּ'",

it occurred solely “because He desires [to act with] kindness,”49

רַק "כִּי חָפֵץ חֶסֶד הוּא",

as it is also written, “The world is built by kindness.”50

וְ"עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָּנֶה".

And this is the meaning of [another interpretation of the verse, “These are the chronicles of heaven and earth] behibar’am(i.e., ‘when they were created’). By transposing the Hebrew letters of this word, the Sages read this word as if it were simultaneously pronounced beAvraham51 (i.e., ‘through [the attribute that characterizes] Abraham’),

וְזֶהוּ "בְּהִבָּרְאָם" – "בְּאַבְרָהָם",

since52 “kindness is to Abraham.” Since Abraham embodies the attribute of chesed, the verse thus intimates that heaven and earth were created through the attribute of chesed.

כִּי "חֶסֶד לְאַבְרָהָם" כוּ'.

However, after the creation of man “to work it…,”53 his lifelong task being to draw down to this world a flow of Divine energy by means of an “arousal from below,” i.e., by means of his own spiritual labors,

אַךְ אַחַר בְּרִיאַת הָאָדָם "לְעָבְדָהּ כוּ'",

every arousal from Above, to arouse the attribute of supreme kindness, depends on an arousal from below,

אֲזַי כָּל אִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְעֵילָּא לְעוֹרֵר מִדַּת חֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן, הוּא בְּאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא,

through the acts of charity and kindness54 that Jews perform in this world.

בִּצְדָקָה וָחֶסֶד שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹשִׂין בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה.

Thus, these good deeds draw down Divine influence from the yud of the Divine Name, from the level of chochmah, to the final hey of the Name, the level of malchut. In this way, then, good deeds bring together and “make” the Name of G-d and draw it downward in its entirety.

That is why our Sages, of blessed memory, have said: “Whoever says that he has nothing but Torah,”55 and thus no kindly deeds, “does not have even Torah;

לָכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: כָּל הָאוֹמֵר אֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא תּוֹרָה בְּלִי גְּמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, אֲפִילוּ תּוֹרָה אֵין לוֹ,

rather, one ought to engage in Torah and in the performance of acts of lovingkindness.”

אֶלָּא לַעֲסוֹק בַּתּוֹרָה וּבִגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים.

For though the “Torah derives from chochmah,”56 and “the world subsists by virtue of the Torah”57 and “those who discourse in it,”58

כִּי הִנֵּה, הֲגַם דְּ"אוֹרַיְיתָא מֵחָכְמָה נָפְקַת", וּבְאוֹרַיְיתָא מִתְקַיֵּים עָלְמָא וּבְאִינוּן דְּלָעָאן בָּהּ,

because by speaking of the Torah subjects they elicit illuminations and effusions59 from supreme chochmah, the source of the Torah, into the plane of the letters of speech with which the world was created,

כִּי בְּדִבּוּרָם מַמְשִׁיכִים הֶאָרוֹת וְהַשְׁפָּעוֹת (נוסח אחר: וְהַשְׁרָאוֹת) חָכְמָה עִילָּאָה, מְקוֹר הַתּוֹרָה – לִבְחִינַת אוֹתִיּוֹת הַדִּבּוּר שֶׁבָּהֶן נִבְרָא הָעוֹלָם,

as our Sages, of blessed memory, said with regard to Torah scholars, “Do not read banayich (‘Your children’) but bonayich (‘Your builders’),60 for they build the world through their study of the Torah—

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "אַל תִּקְרֵי בָּנָיִךְ אֶלָּא בּוֹנָיִךְ"

nevertheless, this flow of chochmah to the letters of speech is a great descent.

הֲרֵי הַמְשָׁכָה זוֹ הִיא בְּחִינַת יְרִידָה גְדוֹלָה,

To accomplish this, it is necessary to arouse supernal chesed which, like water, is drawn down from a high place to a low place

וְלָזֶה צָרִיךְ לְעוֹרֵר חֶסֶד עֶלְיוֹן, הַנִּמְשָׁךְ כַּמַּיִם מִמָּקוֹם גָּבוֹהַּ לְמָקוֹם נָמוּךְ,

by means of an arousal from below, through acts of charity and kindness here below,

בְּאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא, בִּצְדָקָה וָחֶסֶד תַּתָּאָה,

whereby one diffuses life and kindness “to revive the spirit of the humble and downcast.”61

שֶׁמַּמְשִׁיכִים חַיִּים וָחֶסֶד, לְהַחֲיוֹת רוּחַ שְׁפָלִים וְנִדְכָּאִים.

By doing so, one draws down supernal kindness so that the vitality of chochmah descends to the letters of speech, the source of all creation.

This is the meaning of the verse, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom…, but in this, let him glory [in understanding and knowing Me,”62 but in such a manner that it brings about the fulfillment of the phrase that follows]: “for I am G-d, Who acts with kindness….”63

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "אַל יִתְהַלֵּל חָכָם בְּחָכְמָתוֹ כוּ', כִּי אִם בְּזֹאת יִתְהַלֵּל כוּ', כִּי אֲנִי ה' עוֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד כוּ'",

We thus see that wisdom is justifiably glorified when it leads to an act of kindness, which in turn evokes a reciprocal act of kindness from Above.

For it is chesed, the kindly conduct of man here below, that results in the fulfillment of the verse, “I am G-d, Who acts with kindness,” i.e., with the chesed of Asiyah, and that causes the vitality of chochmah to issue downward into the letters of speech, the source of all created beings.

כִּי הַחֶסֶד הוּא הַמַּמְשִׁיךְ חַיֵּי הַחָכְמָה לְמַטָּה,

In the absence of this [kindly conduct], [the Torah Study] that such a person undertakes is called “His wisdom” alone: it remains in heaven as an untapped resource in which that wise man cannot glory,

וְאִם לָאו, הֲרֵי נִקְרֵאת "חָכְמָתוֹ" לְבַדּוֹ,

and there is no downward flow of life from it, G-d forbid.

בְּלִי הַמְשָׁכַת חַיִּים מִמֶּנָּה חַס וְשָׁלוֹם.