“Israel shall be redeemed only by virtue of tzedakah,”1 as it is written, “And her repatriates [shall be redeemed] through tzedakah.”2

"אֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה", שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה".

Tzedakah, whose root connotes both “righteousness” and “charity,” thus brings about the redemption of the Jewish people from exile and their ultimate return to Zion. The same root appears in the next verse to be quoted:

It is written: “Tzedek shall go (yehaleich) before Him.”3

כְּתִיב: "צֶדֶק לְפָנָיו יְהַלֵּךְ",

Now, one should have expected the verse to say yeileich.

וַהֲוָה־לֵיהּ־לְמֵימַר: "יֵלֵךְ".

Yehaleich, by contrast, is a causative form of the verb, seeming to imply that righteousness or charity causes some other entity to “go before Him.”

This concept may be understood by considering the verse, “On Your behalf, my heart says, ‘Seek My face.’”4

אַךְ הָעִנְיָן, עַל פִּי מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב "לְךָ אָמַר לִבִּי בַּקְּשׁוּ פָנָי",

As Rashi explains it, the simple meaning of the verse is that “on Your behalf and as Your messenger, my heart tells me to seek out Your face” (i.e., G‑d’s inwardness, or innermost essence, for the word פנים is related to both meanings, “face” and “interior”). In this spirit the verse concludes: “Your countenance, G‑d, do I seek”; i.e., “I am indeed doing so: I am seeking Your countenance.”

However, if panai does in fact refer to G‑d’s countenance and inwardness, why would it be necessary to conclude, “Your countenance, G‑d, do I seek”? Surely it would suffice to say, “Your countenance do I seek,” since we have already been informed that we are speaking of G‑d’s countenance.

The Alter Rebbe therefore explains that the word panai (“my face”) refers to the inwardness of the Jewish heart while panecha (“Your countenance”) refers to the inwardness of G‑d.

This means [that man is being urged to] “seek the inwardness of the heart,” that hidden element within his own heart that must be sought after if it is to be revealed.

פֵּירוּשׁ, בַּקְּשׁוּ פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב.

For in the flame of the element of the Divine Fire that is in the heart, i.e., within the soul’s ardent love of G‑d which derives from the element of Fire within the soul, as mentioned in the Tanya, Part I, ch. 3,

כִּי הִנֵּה, בְּלַהַב יְסוֹד הָאֵשׁ הָאֱלֹקִית שֶׁבַּלֵּב

(5a variant reading: “For in the heart, the element of Divine Fire within the heart,”)

(נוסח אחר: הִנֵּה, בְּהַלֵּב [יְסוֹד הָאֵשׁ הָאֱלֹקִית שֶׁבַּלֵּב])

there are two aspects: the aspect of chitzoniyut (“outwardness,” i.e., externality, as opposed to essence) and the aspect of pnimiyut (“inwardness”).

יֵשׁ ב' בְּחִינוֹת: בְּחִינַת חִיצוֹנִיּוּת, וּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת;

The chitzoniyut of the heart is the ardent [love] that flares up on account of one’s understanding and knowledge of the greatness of G‑d, the blessed Ein Sof,

חִיצוֹנִיּוּת הַלֵּב, הִיא הִתְלַהֲבוּת הַמִּתְלַהֶבֶת מִבְּחִינַת הַבִּינָה וְהַדַּעַת בִּגְדוּלַּת ה' אֵין־סוֹף בָּרוּךְ־הוּא,

by meditating6 on His greatness, and from this contemplation giving birth to a strong love resembling “flashes of fire….”7

(להתבוננן) [לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן] בִּגְדוּלָּתוֹ, וּלְהוֹלִיד מִתְּבוּנָה זוֹ אַהֲבָה עַזָּה כְּרִשְׁפֵּי אֵשׁ וְכוּ'.

This, then, is the chitzoniyut, the external level, of the G‑dly soul: a revealed love of G‑d in one’s heart which results from meditation on G‑d’s greatness.

The pnimiyut of the heart is the innermost point in the heart, the depth of the heart,

וּפְנִימִיּוּת הַלֵּב, הִיא הַנְּקוּדָּה שֶׁבִּפְנִימִיּוּת הַלֵּב וְעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא,

which transcends by far the categories of knowledge and understanding with which man can meditate in his heart on G‑d’s greatness.

שֶׁהִיא לְמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת וְהַתְּבוּנָה שֶׁיּוּכַל הָאָדָם לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בְּלִבּוֹ בִּגְדוּלַּת ה',

Unaided, man would never be able to achieve such a profound love through meditation alone; it is granted to the soul as a gift, as will soon be explained, and man’s task is to search and discover it within himself.

As it is written: “From out of the depths do I call unto You, O G‑d”8; [i.e.,] from the depths of the heart.9

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב "מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ ה'" – מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִיבָּא

“Depths” appears in the plural, for the heart harbors depths, with yet profounder depths beyond.

(By way of analogy, there is a parallel in worldly matters. Sometimes, there is an extremely important matter upon which a man’s entire vitality hinges; it touches him as far as and including the innermost point of his heart,

(וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ מָשָׁל, כְּמוֹ בְּמִילֵּי דְעָלְמָא, לִפְעָמִים יֵשׁ עִנְיָן גָּדוֹל מְאֹד מְאֹד, שֶׁכָּל חַיּוּת הָאָדָם תָּלוּי בּוֹ וְנוֹגֵעַ עַד נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִיּוּת הַלֵּב וְעַד בִּכְלָל,

causing him to do things and say things without any reason whatsoever),10 for it touches the essence of his soul that transcends logic and reason.

וְגוֹרֵם לוֹ לִפְעָמִים לַעֲשׂוֹת מַעֲשִׂים וּלְדַבֵּר דְּבָרִים שֶׁלֹּא בְדַעַת כְּלָל).

And “the one corresponds to the other”11:

וְזֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה,

The spiritual realm corresponds to the physical. Just as worldly affairs sometimes touch a person so strongly that he acts without reason:

It is precisely so with the “service of the heart.” A Jew’s love for G‑d may be so great that it touches his soul’s essence, which utterly transcends logic and reason.

כָּכָה הוּא מַמָּשׁ בַּעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב.

As is known, this is because the innermost point of the heart transcends the faculty of reason, which extends and vests itself in the emotive attributes born of ChaBaD, i.e., born of the three intellectual stages of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that together constitute the intellectual process called ChaBaD.

וְהַיְינוּ, לְפִי שֶׁבְּחִינַת נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב הִיא לְמַעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת הַמִּתְפַּשֵּׁט וּמִתְלַבֵּשׁ בַּמִּדּוֹת שֶׁנּוֹלְדוּ מֵחָכְמָה־בִּינָה־דַּעַת כַּנּוֹדָע,

Rather, [the pnimiyut of the heart] is an aspect of the radiance from the supreme chochmah, which transcends binah and daat,

רַק הִיא בְּחִינַת הֶאָרַת חָכְמָה עֶלְיוֹנָה שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַבִּינָה וְהַדַּעַת,

and in this [supreme chochmah], there is vested and concealed the actual light of G‑d,

וּבָהּ מְלוּבָּשׁ וְגָנוּז אוֹר ה' מַמָּשׁ,

as it is written, “By wisdom (chochmah) G‑d [founded the earth].”12

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב "ה' בְּחָכְמָה כוּ'",

The two quoted Hebrew words literally mean “G‑d [is] in chochmah”; i.e., G‑d’s infinite light is clothed in chochmah.

And this is precisely the spark of Divinity in every soul of Israel.13

וְהִיא הִיא בְּחִינַת נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹקוּת שֶׁבְּכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל.

It is this Divine spark, utterly transcending reason, that gives birth to the love of G‑d in the pnimiyut of the heart, that likewise transcends all reason.14

A question arises: Since this love emanates from the Divine spark found within the soul of all Jews, why do they not all attain this level of Divine service?

The reason that not every person merits this rank in the service of the heart—service from the depth of the heart in a state of pnimiyut

וּמַה שֶּׁאֵין כָּל אָדָם זוֹכֶה לְמַדְרֵגָה זוֹ, לַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא בִּבְחִינַת פְּנִימִיּוּת,

is that within him, this faculty is in a state of exile and captivity,

הַיְינוּ, לְפִי שֶׁבְּחִינָה זוֹ הִיא אֶצְלוֹ בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְשִׁבְיָה,

and this is actually the state of the exile of the Shechinah,

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת גָּלוּת הַשְּׁכִינָה מַמָּשׁ,

for it is precisely the [Shechinah] which is the spark of Divinity that is in one’s Divine soul.

כִּי הִיא הִיא בְּחִינַת נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹהוּת שֶׁבְּנַפְשׁוֹ הָאֱלֹהִית.

Thus, when the “spark” is in exile, the Shechinah is in exile as well. Moreover, being in exile, the spark cannot rouse the soul to serve G‑d with the loftier manner of love that stems from the innermost depths of the heart.

The cause of the exile of the Divine spark of the soul is,15 as in the words of our Sages, of blessed memory: “When [the Jewish people] were exiled to Babylon, the Shechinah went with them.”16

וְסִבַּת הַגָּלוּת, הוּא מַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה "גָּלוּ לְבָבֶל שְׁכִינָה עִמָּהֶם",

In terms of the individual sparks of the soul, this means that when a spark is in a state of “Babylon,” i.e., when an individual acts in a “Babylonian” manner, then the Shechinah is in exile together with him.

This is so because he has vested the innermost point of his heart in [that aspect of the universe which is] the opposing counterpart [to holiness],

דְּהַיְינוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִלְבִּישׁ בְּחִינַת פְּנִימִית נְקוּדַּת לְבָבוֹ בְּ"זֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה",

namely, in the soiled garments—mundane matters and worldly desires—which are known as “Babylon.”

דְּהַיְינוּ בִּלְבוּשִׁים צוֹאִים דְּמִילֵּי דְּעָלְמָא וְתַאֲוֹת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה, הַנִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם "בָּבֶל",

He has thereby banished the Divine spark within his soul, the personal Shechinah within himself, so to speak, to this all pervasive “Babylon.”

This [exile] corresponds to the “foreskin” that covers the covenant and the innermost point of the heart.

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת עָרְלָה הַמְכַסָּה עַל הַבְּרִית וּנְקוּדָּה הַפְּנִימִית שֶׁבַּלֵּב,

Of this it is written, “And you shall excise the foreskin of your heart.”17

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר: "וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם".

In principle, the spiritual service of circumcision is that of repentance.18 With regard to exile, our Sages teach that “if Israel repent, they will be immediately redeemed.”19 Repentance thus leads to the redemption (on a personal scale) of the Divine spark within each individual soul, and (on a cosmic scale) of the Shechinah, from their respective exiles. In spiritual terms, the act of circumcision likewise removes a veil of concealment and allows the innermost point of the heart to be revealed.

Now, in circumcision, there are two stages: milah (“excision”) and periah (“uncovering”),

וְהִנֵּה, בַּמִּילָה יֵשׁ שְׁנֵי בְּחִינוֹת: מִילָה וּפְרִיעָה,

[which remove respectively] the coarse foreskin and the thin membrane.

שֶׁהֵן עָרְלָה גַסָּה וּקְלִיפָּה דַקָּה.

With respect to the “foreskin” of the heart, which the Torah commands us similarly to circumcise, there are likewise coarse and subtle desires, corresponding to the two grades of skin.

וְכֵן בְּעָרְלַת הַלֵּב יֵשׁ גַּם כֵּן תַּאֲוֹת גַּסּוֹת וְדַקּוֹת –

[These two grades of worldly desire respectively require] milah and periah,

מִילָה וּפְרִיעָה;

and “if one performed milah (‘circumcision’) without periah (‘uncovering’), it is as if he had not circumcised,”20

וּ"מָל וְלֹא פָרַע – כְּאִלּוּ לֹא מָל",

Just as this is the law with regard to actual circumcision, so, too, is it true when it comes to circumcising the desires of the heart: if a person removes only his coarse desires and does not proceed to remove the subtler ones as well, it is as if he had not circumcised his heart at all,

because, after all is said and done, the innermost point of the heart is still covered by a garment of thin sackcloth [of kelipah];

מִפְּנֵי שֶׁסּוֹף סוֹף עֲדַיִין נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב הִיא מְכוּסָּה בִּלְבוּשׁ שַׂק דַּק,

it is in a state of exile and captivity.

בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְשִׁבְיָה.

There it will remain until the individual redeems it by performing a spiritual periah and removing his subtler desires as well.

Now, concerning the excision of the foreskin itself, it is written: “And you—yourselves—shall excise the foreskin of your heart.”

וְהִנֵּה, עַל מִילַת הָעָרְלָה מַמָּשׁ כְּתִיב "וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם" אַתֶּם בְּעַצְמְכֶם.

Each and every Jew is able to remove this himself, for repentance tears down the veil with which his desires obscure the innermost point of his heart.

However, the removal of the thin membrane is a difficult matter for man,

אַךְ לְהָסִיר הַקְּלִיפָּה הַדַּקָּה, זֶהוּ דָּבָר הַקָּשֶׁה עַל הָאָדָם,

and of this, it is written that with the coming of Mashiach, “The L-rd your G‑d will circumcise your heart…, to love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart and all your soul, for the sake of your life,”21

וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר בְּבִיאַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ: "וּמָל ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ כוּ', לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ",

because G‑d alone is literally your whole life.

כְּלוֹמַר – לְמַעַן כִּי ה' לְבַדּוֹ הוּא כָּל חַיֶּיךָ מַמָּשׁ,

In this state, the individual’s love of G‑d will not be a mere manifestation of his soul but a love that constitutes his very life. And just as a person does not regard his life as being something apart from himself, so, too, will this love not be sensed as a distinct entity but as an intrinsic component of himself.

That is why this love, the love that follows the Divine excision of the heart’s thin membrane, stems from the depth of the heart, from the truly innermost point, as mentioned above, and transcends the faculty of daat.

שֶׁלָּכֵן אַהֲבָה זוֹ הִיא מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא – מִנְּקוּדָּה פְּנִימִית מַמָּשׁ כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל, וּלְמַעְלָה מִבְּחִינַת הַדַּעַת.

Therefore, too, Mashiach will come when Israel in general are “caught unawares.”22

וְלָכֵן מָשִׁיחַ בָּא בְּהֶיסַּח הַדַּעַת לִכְלָלוּת יִשְׂרָאֵל,

[His coming] is the manifestation of the innermost point which is universal [to all Jews],

וְהִיא גִּילּוּי בְּחִינַת נְקוּדָּה פְּנִימִית הַכְּלָלִית,

and [likewise], the emergence of the universal Shechinah [of the entire community of Israel] from exile and captivity forever more.

וִיצִיאַת הַשְּׁכִינָה הַכְּלָלִית מֵהַגָּלוּת וְהַשִּׁבְיָה, לָעַד וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים.

Just as each individual’s Divine spark—his personal Shechinah, so to speak—is redeemed from captivity through means that transcend reason and daat, in such a manner, too, will the universal Shechinah, and with it the entire House of Israel, be redeemed.

Thus, the ultimate circumcision of the heart, and in its wake the ultimate manifestation of the love of G‑d, will take place when Mashiach comes. Nevertheless, it is possible even now to liberate one’s personal Shechinah—one’s Divine spark—at least on a temporary basis during the time of prayer. This the Alter Rebbe now goes on to say:

Similarly, every particular spark of the Shechinah, inherent in the soul of every individual Jew,

וְכֵן, כָּל נִיצוֹץ פְּרָטִי מֵהַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁבְּנֶפֶשׁ כָּל אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל

emerges for the moment from exile and captivity

יוֹצֵאת מֵהַגָּלוּת וְהַשִּׁבְיָה לְפִי שָׁעָה,

during that “momentary life” which is prayer23

בְּ"חַיֵּי שָׁעָה" זוֹ תְּפִלָּה,

during the service of his heart, from the depth of his heart,

וַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּלֵּב מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא,

from the innermost point which becomes divested of the [concealing] “foreskin”—

מִבְּחִינַת נְקוּדָּה הַפְּנִימִית הַנִּגְלֵית מֵהָעָרְלָה,

and soars upward to cleave to Him with a fierce passion,

וְעוֹלָה לְמַעְלָה, לְדָבְקָה בוֹ בִּתְשׁוּקָה עַזָּה

in the spirit of the phrase, “for the sake of your life,” for the individual senses that G‑dliness is his entire life.

בִּבְחִינַת "לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ".

And [in] this, too—in this momentary deliverance of the innermost point of the heart during the service of prayer—a man may be considered to be in a state of hessach daat, “unaware” or “absentminded,” so to speak,

וְהוּא גַם כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת הֶיסַּח דַּעַת הָאָדָם,

for this State, the state in which the Divine spark within man, his personal Shechinah, is momentarily revealed, transcends the daat of man and his meditation on the greatness of G‑d.

כִּי בְּחִינָה זוֹ הִיא לְמַעְלָה מִדַּעַת הָאָדָם וְהִתְבּוֹנְנוּתוֹ בִּגְדוּלַּת ה',

Rather, it is a kind of gift granted by G‑d from heaven

רַק הִיא בְּחִינַת מַתָּנָה נְתוּנָה מֵאֵת ה' מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם,

from the radiance of the supernal countenance,

מֵהֶאָרַת בְּחִינַת פָּנִים הָעֶלְיוֹנִים,

as it is written, “May G‑d make His countenance shine upon you,”24

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב "יָאֵר ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ",

and as it is written, “And the L-rd, your G‑d, will circumcise i.e., remove the insensitivity of [your heart]”—and this is a state which exists even now on a temporary basis.

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וּמָל ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ" כוּ'.

However, it is well known that an arousal from above comes only in response to an arousal from below,

בִּבְחִינַת הַעֲלָאַת "מַיִּין נוּקְבִין",

A man’s soul is stimulated from above only in response to the spiritual service that he initiates here below. Even an effusion of Divine benevolence that comes exclusively from above, and can neither be brought into being nor drawn down by man’s service alone, also awaits a previous arousal from below,

as an elevation of mayin nukvin; i.e., by an arousal of the “feminine waters” by which the recipient elicits the mayin dechurin—the downward flow (“masculine waters”)—emanating from the Giver.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה "אֵין טִפָּה יוֹרֶדֶת מִלְמַעְלָה כוּ'".

As our Sages, of blessed memory, said: “No drop [of rain] descends from above [without two corresponding drops first ascending from below].”25

וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ הָאָדָם לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּעַצְמוֹ תְּחִלַּת מִילָה זוֹ,

A man must therefore perform the beginning of this milah by himself,

לְהָסִיר עָרְלַת הַלֵּב וּקְלִיפָּה הַגַּסָּה וְדַקָּה, הַמַּלְבִּישׁוֹת וּמְכַסּוֹת עַל בְּחִינַת נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב,

to remove the “foreskin” of the heart and the coarse and thin husks which clothe and cover its innermost point,

שֶׁהִיא בְּחִינַת אַהֲבַת ה', בְּחִינַת "לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ", שֶׁהִיא בַּגָּלוּת בְּתַאֲווֹת עוֹלָם הַזֶּה,

this [innermost point being] a love of G‑d in the spirit of the phrase, “for the sake of your life”—i.e., a love that springs from an awareness that G-dliness is the person’s entire life—[this love of G‑d being] in exile among the desires of this world.

שֶׁהֵם גַּם כֵּן בִּבְחִינַת "לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ"

These [physical desires] likewise exist in the spirit of the phrase, “for the sake of your life,”

בְּ"זֶה לְעוּמַּת זֶה", כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

in [that aspect of the universe which is] the opposing counterpart [to holiness], as mentioned above.

וְהַיְינוּ, עַל־יְדֵי נְתִינַת הַצְּדָקָה לַה' מִמָּמוֹנוֹ, שֶׁהוּא חַיּוּתוֹ.

It is thus possible for an individual to be so dedicated to his passions and desires that they are his entire life. For just as this state exists in holiness, it also has its counterpart in the opposite direction, whereby one is immersed in desires to the innermost core of his heart and being.

And this [removal of the spiritual foreskin] is achieved by giving charity to G‑d from one’s money, which is his vitality,

וּבִפְרָט מִי שֶׁמְּזוֹנוֹתָיו מְצוּמְצָמִים וּדְחִיקָא לֵיהּ שַׁעְתָּא טוּבָא,

It has been noted earlier, in Part I, ch. 37, that since money enables a man to purchase life’s essentials, parting with it in favor of charitable ends is equated to giving his “very vitality” to G‑d,

especially with a person whose income is limited and who is very hard pressed at the time,

שֶׁנּוֹתֵן מֵחַיָּיו מַמָּשׁ.

for—when he gives—he gives of his very life.

וּבִפְרָטוּת אִם נֶהֱנֶה מִיגִיעַ כַּפָּיו,

This is especially so if he supports himself by the toil of his hands,

שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא עָסַק בָּהֶם פְּעָמִים רַבּוֹת בִּבְחִינַת נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב מֵעוּמְקָא דְלִבָּא,

for it is impossible that in his work, he did not often involve “the innermost point of the heart,” the depth of his heart,

כְּמִנְהַג הָעוֹלָם בְּעִסְקֵיהֶם בְּמַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן וּכְהַאי גַּוְנָא,

as is the way of the world when people are occupied with business and the like.

וַהֲרֵי עַתָּה הַפַּעַם כְּשֶׁמְּפַזֵּר מִיגִיעוֹ

Thus, now that he disburses the fruits of his toil unstintingly, despite his circumstances,

וְנוֹתֵן לַה' בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב

and gives unto G‑d with joy and with a gladsome heart,

הִנֵּה בָּזֶה פּוֹדֶה נַפְשׁוֹ מִשַּׁחַת,

he thereby redeems his soul from the pit.26

דְּהַיְינוּ בְּחִינַת נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִית לְבָבוֹ, שֶׁהָיְתָה בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת וְשִׁבְיָה בְּתוֹךְ הַקְּלִיפָּה גַּסָּה אוֹ דַקָּה,

That is, [he redeems] the innermost point of his heart, which was in a state of exile and captivity within the coarse or thin kelipah.

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב, "מִכָּל מִשְׁמָר נְצוֹר לִבֶּךָ" –

For thus it is written: “Guard your heart with the greatest vigilance”27 (lit., “Guard your heart from every mishmar”),

"מִשְׁמָר" פֵּירוּשׁ בֵּית הָאֲסוּרִים,

mishmar” meaning a prison.

וְעַתָּה, נִפְדֶּה מֵהַחִיצוֹנִים בִּצְדָקָה זוֹ.

The verse is thus exhorting us to “guard our hearts from being imprisoned and exiled in kelipot and desires.”

Thus, through present charity, [the innermost point of the heart] is now redeemed from the forces of evil in which it had been imprisoned.

וְזֶה גַּם כֵּן לְשׁוֹן "פְּרִיעָה" עִנְיַן פְּרִיעַת חוֹב, שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּיב וְנִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד לַחִיצוֹנִים שֶׁמָּשְׁלוּ בוֹ עַל נְקוּדַּת פְּנִימִיּוּת לְבָבוֹ,

This also explains the term periah, which suggests28 periat chov (“removing a debt”), for [the individual in question] had become indebted and subjected to the forces of evil that had ruled within him over the innermost point of his heart.

וְזֶהוּ "וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה".

Through this, we can understand the meaning of [the above-quoted phrase], “and her (former spiritual) captives [shall be redeemed] through tzedakah.”29

וְזֶהוּ "צֶדֶק לְפָנָיו יְהַלֵּךְ",

In these terms, too, we can understand the meaning of [the above-quoted phrase], “Righteousness (or charity) shall go (yehaleich) before Him (lefanav).”

"לְפָנָיו" – הוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן פְּנִימִיּוּת,

The word lefanav shares a root with pnimiyut (“inwardness”),

וִ"יְהַלֵּךְ" – הוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן הוֹלָכָה,

and yehaleichthe causative form of the verb, which appears in this verse in place of the expected form, yeilech (“shall go”)—shares a root with holachah (“leading”). It thus implies that charity does not itself “go before Him”: rather, it causes some other entity to “go before Him.”

שֶׁמּוֹלִיךְ אֶת פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב לַה',

For [tzedakah] leads the innermost point of [a man’s] heart toward G‑d,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ "יָשִׂים לְדֶרֶךְ" ה' "פְּעָמָיו",

and then “he sets his steps30 toward the way of G‑d”31

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "וְהָלַכְתָּ בִּדְרָכָיו",

as it is written, “And you shall walk in His ways,”32

"אַחֲרֵי ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם תֵּלֵכוּ",

[and likewise,] “You shall go after the L-rd your G‑d”33

בְּכָל מַעֲשֵׂה הַמִּצְוֹת, וְתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה כְּנֶגֶד כּוּלָּן,

with [his] entire performance of the commandments, and with [his] “study of the Torah, which is equivalent to them all,”34

שֶׁכּוּלָּן עוֹלִין לַה' עַל־יְדֵי פְּנִימִית הַלֵּב,

for they all ascend to G‑d through the inwardness of the heart, which is revealed through the service of tzedakah,

בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וּמַעְלָה מַּעְלָה מֵעֲלִיָּיתָן לַה' עַל־יְדֵי חִיצוֹנִית הַלֵּב,

[and this ascent is] more intense and reaches far higher than their ascent to G‑d through the externality of the heart,

הַנּוֹלָד מֵהַתְּבוּנָה וְהַדַּעַת לְבַדָּן, בְּלִי הֶאָרַת פָּנִים מִלְמַעְלָה אֶלָּא בִּבְחִינַת הֶסְתֵּר פָּנִים,

[for this ascent] is born only of man’s contemplation and knowledge [of G‑dliness], without an illumination of the [Divine] “countenance” (i.e., inwardness) from above but in a state in which “the countenance is hidden.”

כִּי אֵין הַפָּנִים הָעֶלְיוֹנִים מְאִירִים לְמַטָּה אֶלָּא בְּאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא, בְּמַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה הַנִּקְרָא "שָׁלוֹם".

For the supernal “countenance” does not radiate downward except through an arousal initiated from below, through an act of charity, charity being called “peace.”

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "פָּדָה בְשָׁלוֹם נַפְשִׁי" –

This is the meaning of the verse that says, “He has redeemed my soul in peace”35or “through peace.” This, as explained by our Sages,36 refers to tzedakah and acts of lovingkindness that are known as “peace.”

"נַפְשִׁי" דַּיְיקָא.

[The verse speaks] expressly of “my soul,”37 inasmuch as it refers to the Shechinah found in the soul of each and every Jew, for the Divine spark that vitalizes the soul of every Jew is redeemed through “peace”—through tzedakah.

וְזֶהוּ גַּם כֵּן הַטַּעַם שֶׁנִּקְרָא הַצְּדָקָה "שָׁלוֹם",

This is also the reason for which charity is called “peace,”

לְפִי שֶׁ"נַּעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲבִיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם" כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה,

because according to the teaching of our Sages, of blessed memory, by virtue of charity, “peace is made between Israel and their Father in heaven,”38

דְּהַיְינוּ עַל־יְדֵי פִּדְיוֹן נַפְשׁוֹתֵיהֶן, הֵם חֵלֶק ה' מַמָּשׁ, מִידֵי הַחִיצוֹנִים,

through the redemption of their souls, which are truly a part of G‑d, from the grip of the forces of evil.

וּבִפְרָט צִדְקַת אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל,

The Alter Rebbe wrote this letter, like most of the letters that comprise Iggeret Hakodesh, in connection with the charitable fund of Kollel Chabad in the Land of Israel. This fund supported R. Mendele Horodoker and his colleagues, together with their disciples, who had settled there. Hence, the Alter Rebbe concludes:

This is especially the case with charity for the Land of Israel,

שֶׁהִיא צִדְקַת ה' מַמָּשׁ,

for it is truly the charity of G‑d, since it is directed to a place where the Divine Name is revealed,

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב: "תָּמִיד עֵינֵי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּהּ",

[to a Land of which] it is written, “The eyes—i.e., the most quintessential efflux and attention—of the L-rd your G‑d are constantly upon it.”39

"וְהָיוּ עֵינַי וְלִבִּי שָׁם כָּל הַיָּמִים".

[In this vein, it is also written,] “And My eyes and My heart will be there at all times.”40

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לָנוּ לִפְדּוֹת חַיֵּי נַפְשֵׁנוּ מֵעֲצַת הַחוֹשְׁבִים לִדְחוֹת פְּעָמֵינוּ,

It is this [charity for the Holy Land] that has stood by us to redeem the life of our souls from the counsel of those who seek to repel our steps, i.e., those who desire to harm us.

וְתַעֲמוֹד לָנוּ לָעַד, לָשׂוּם נַפְשֵׁנוּ בְּחַיִּים אֲמִיתִּים, מֵחַיֵּי הַחַיִּים,

And this [charity] will stand by us forever—to set our souls in the true life of the Fountainhead of Life,

"לֵאוֹר בְּאוֹר הַחַיִּים", אֲשֶׁר "יָאֵר ה' פָּנָיו אִתָּנוּ סֶלָה",

so that we will be “enlightened with the light of life”41 which G‑d “will make His Face radiate with us, Selah.”42

אָמֵן כֵּן יְהִי רָצוֹן:

Amen, may this be His will.