Every Jew must exert himself with the mitzvah of ahavat Yisrael. This mitzvah demands that we be concerned with the welfare of our fellow-beings. If this applies to their material well-being, surely it does no less to their spiritual well-being, to “loving G‑d’s creatures and bringing them near to the Torah.” This is incumbent especially upon those who, by Divine Providence, happen to live in a place where there is some neglect of Torah and mitzvot, as we are taught that “In a place where there are no leading personalities ”-they have a special duty and merit to “strive to be a leading personality” (Avot 2:5).

This mitzvah may make substantial demands on one’s time and efforts, but the individual stands to benefit from his efforts just as do the people around him. This follows the principle of “[When] the poor and the man of medium wealth meet together, G‑d enlightens the eyes of both” (Proverbs 29:13). For just as it is with those who are rich and poor in the material sense, so, too, it is with those who are rich and poor in the spiritual sense: when the rich benefits the poor, the Almighty benefits the rich as well.

The act of tzedakah, whether it be material or spiritual, has the effect of “tzedakah exalts a people” (Proverbs 14:34). Chassidut explains this to mean that the benefactor’s mind and heart will be exalted (purified) a thousandfold. Thus, it is said in the Midrash: “You have given life to the soul of the poor, tomorrow the Almighty will give life to you, to your son and to your daughter.”

There is, then, personal benefit to the benefactor. Moreover, this also hastens the general redemption for all of Israel, as it is said that Israel shall be redeemed by virtue of tzedakah.