"G‑d said about Abraham: I cherish him because he instructs his children and his household after him to keep G‑d's way by acting with righteousness [tzedakah] and justice."(Genesis 18:19)

G‑d's affection for Abraham stemmed primarily from the fact that he educated both his family and his followers in the ways of monotheism and G‑dly morality. The fact that he taught and inspired others was more precious to G‑d than all of Abraham's personal spiritual accomplishments as well as the tests he overcame.

Abraham's love for G‑d was unparalleled...

Abraham's love for G‑d was unparalleled and his commitment to Him was so absolute that he was even prepared to sacrifice his life for Him, should the need to do so arise. This preparedness became an ingrained part of Abraham's nature.

Abraham's readiness to give up his life was unpremeditated: his attitude was that, were he to be faced with this sacrifice during the course of fulfilling his Divine mission, it would not intimidate him; were he not, neither would he be disappointed. Since he did not view giving up his life as an end in and of itself, he therefore felt no satisfaction when called upon to give up his life for his beliefs. In fact, he was frustrated when King Nimrod threatened his life and imprisoned him for his monotheistic views, since during his imprisonment he was not free to teach the world about G‑d.

Abraham bequeathed this selfless devotion to G‑d to his descendants, and it subsequently became a hereditary Jewish trait. Indeed, over the generations, many of even the simplest of our people have willingly given up their lives rather than deny their connection to G‑d for even a moment.

"…To keep G‑d's way by acting with righteousness [tzedakah] and justice." (ibid.)

On a deeper level, "keeping G‑d's way" means ensuring that G‑d continuously recreate and sustain the world through the Divine Name Havayah, which is synonymous with His attribute of mercy. When G‑d channels His creative, sustaining energy through His attribute of mercy, the world is blessed with an abundance of spiritual and material beneficence. We motivate G‑d to use His mercy in this way by awakening and activating our own mercy towards others, dispensing charity (tzedakah) to all in need.

But it does not suffice to awaken G‑d's attribute of mercy alone...

But it does not suffice to awaken G‑d's attribute of mercy alone; we must also awaken His attribute of justice, since without it, G‑d's mercy would act indiscriminately, sustaining negative forces as well. We awaken G‑d's attribute of justice by examining the resources with which G‑d has blessed us, determining what portion is really necessary for our own sustenance and what portion is superfluous, and then donating the surplus to charity rather than spending it on luxuries for ourselves. Furthermore, when we receive additional bounty from G‑d, we should train ourselves to feel that we do not deserve to use it for ourselves when others have much less. This practice of self-imposed scrutiny will inspire us to give even more generously.

This was precisely the manner in which Abraham dispensed charity, with both "righteousness and justice."

We must also apply this practice of self-scrutiny to spiritual charity: it should be unthinkable for us to indulge in the luxury of secluding ourselves from the outside world, selfishly immersing ourselves in Torah study and prayer, while ignoring the spiritual plight of those who are ignorant of the basics of Jewish religion and life.

Adapted from Sefer Ma'amarim, 5700 p.30; Sefer Ma'amarim Basi L'Gani,vol.I, p.31 (Bati L'Gani 5711,section 3); Sefer Ma'amarim 5710,p.279, see Tanya, chapters 18-19; Sefer Ma'amarim Yiddish p.205; Torah Ohr 63b; See Likutei Sichot, vol. 25. p.84; Likutei Sichot, vol.23 p.159
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