This week's translation focuses on a famous saying taught in the Zohar in relation to the traditional Jewish adage "charity saves from death". Note that the English phrase "rain-making" refers to the idea of going out and getting business, which is not so removed from the spiritual impact of giving charity, as we shall learn.

"If you walk in my statutes and keep my commandments, and do them, then I will cause the rain to come at the proper time, and the land shall yield her produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit." (Lev. 26:3-4) This means that each and every thing will give their strength to you. And who are those [that are bestowing their power]? It is that same rectification [tikun] that you [students of Rebbe Shimon] do [by uniting] the Holy Name.

Uniting the Holy Name is the intention one should have when performing a mitzva

Uniting the Holy Name is the intention one should have when performing a mitzvah. When the mitzvah is carried out the conscious intention of uniting Zeir Anpin with Nukva, as they are reflected in the names Havayah and Ado-nai, respectively, then the spiritual abundance generated by this unity flows into this world causing both spiritual and physical bounty. In terms of the sefirot, this unites tiferet and malchut. The unification is caused by a righteous act that corresponds to the sefira of yesod. In the mind's eye one should see the diagram of the sefirot and imagine how yesod connects all the abundance of the sefirot above, with malchut below.

In a similar way it is written "For I know him [Abraham], that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of G‑d, to do justice and judgment; that G‑d may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken to him." (Gen. 18:19)

Here we see Abraham being blessed with abundance because he brings "justice/tzedek and judgment/mishpat." The word "tzedek" hints at the sefira of yesod, which is also called "tzadik" and is characterized by the life story of "Yosef HaTzaddik" - Joseph the Righteous. The word "mishpat" refers to judgment, which takes place in the sefira of malchut.

Now it should be asked that since the verse specifies, "…they shall keep the way of G‑d" [which is all-inclusive], why does it add, "…to do justice and judgment"? However [it comes to teach that] one who keeps the ways of the Torah is counted as though he performs justice and judgment. And what is "justice and judgment"? It is the Holy One blessed be He.

The holy name Havayah hints at these two levels when the first three letters refer to justice and the final letter refers to judgment.

Rebbe Shimon cried and said, "Woe to those people that don't know and are not conscious of the honor of their creator."

Woe to those people that don't know and are not conscious of the honor of their creator….

It is said that one who unites the Holy Name every day "gives charity to the poor".

The sefira of malchut is called "poor" because it only receives the abundance which is channeled to it from the higher sefirot. On its own, in exile from the higher sefirot, it has nothing. One who performs a mitzvah with the intention of uniting the Holy Name, connects the yud and hei (chochma and bina) with the vav (which corresponds with the six directions of the physical world and the six sefirot from chesed to yesod) and then unites those letters with the final hei (which represents malchut). This completes the Tree of Life and causes abundance to flow to the otherwise impoverished sefira of malchut.

Come and see. The companions have explained this correctly before, [saying] that a poor person is under the control of harsh judgment. Everything he eats is from this level of judgment in the place that is called "righteousness" [or malchut].

This is like the verse, "A prayer [in Hebrew, "tefila"] of the poor man when he faints, and pours out his complaint before G‑d". (Psalms 102:1) The word "tefila" hints at the tefillin/arm phylactery, as we have explained.

The arm tefillin is "poor" or incomplete, until it is joined by…higher consciousness…

Here Rebbe Shimon explains the hidden meaning in the quoted verse. The Hebrew word for "faints", "yeataf", also means "to wrap". In this way the verse can be read, "The wrapping of the arm tefilin of the poor man…." The arm tefilin is "poor" or incomplete, until it is joined by the head tefillin, representing higher consciousness. Once our actions, represented by the tefillin on the arm, are joined by consciousness to perform the mitzvot, represented by the head tefillin, we merit to properly fulfill our role on this earth.

One who gives charity to a poor person unites the Holy Name above as it should properly be completed because charity is the Tree of Life [Zeir Anpin], and charity is given in justice [the sefira of malchut]. When charity is given, each is united with the other. Then the Holy Name exists in completion. One who causes this arousal [causing spiritual unification] below, in so doing causes an arousal above. Concerning this, it is written, "Happy are those who maintain justice and [the ones who] do righteousness [charity] at all times". (Psalms 106: 3) Doing righteousness [referring to charity] is from the level of the Holy One blessed be He [since the whole of Creation is an act of His charity]. It is as if He makes righteousness/charity [by bringing His spiritual beneficence into this physical world].

Come and see. We have learned the place of a poor person [is in the sefira of malchut]. What is the reason [for his association with this sefira]? It is because such a person has nothing of his own except for that which is given to him, like the moon which has no light of her own other than what she receives from the sun. Come and see. Why is a poor person considered as if dead? (Nedarim 64b) The reason is because of that place [where he is rooted]. That place is where death is found [since it can be cut off from its source of abundance], and he is therefore called "dead".

The one who gives the charity…has freed the sefira of malchut from the grasp of harsh judgment…

Of all the sefirot, malchut is the most exposed to the External Forces, of evil. It is the lowest of all the sefirot and is surrounded by judgment. This is demonstrated in the physical world, where the poor are most exposed to temptation and criminality. These forces of darkness are called "death" because they are the most removed from the life giving power of the holy, and entanglement with them leads away from spiritual life.

One who has mercy on him and gives him charity [to enable him to live, causes] the Tree of Life to spread over him [the one who gives the charity]. This is as is written, "Charity saves from death". (Proverbs 10:2) In the same manner as a person acts below [in the physical world], he directly causes [that result] to happen [in the spiritual world] above. [He has freed the sefira of malchut from the grasp of harsh judgment and caused it to be united with Zeir Anpin]. Happy is the portion of one who merits making [whole] the Holy Name above. This is the reason that charity rises above all other mitzvot.

At the Ascent Institute of Safed, we merited to see the phrase "Charity saves from death" literally come true. One of our seminar attendees from America learned this lesson when later, in Jerusalem, she went to eat at a pizzeria. Before she entered the restaurant, she saw a poor person asking for charity and turned away to go to the moneychanger to cash in a large denomination note so she could give him some charity. As she turned to walk away, she was knocked over by the blast of an explosion, as the pizzeria was the target of a suicide bombing. In her instance, charity literally saved her from death!

Zohar, parashat Bechukotai, pg. 113b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

Copyright 2003 by All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.