והיה מעשה הצדקה שלום, ועבודת הצדקה השקט ובטח עד עולם

“And [the reward for] the act of tzedakah will be peace, and [the reward for] the service of tzedakah [will be] quietness and surety forever.”1

Some commentaries explain that “act” (מעשה) and “service” (עבודה) are one and the same; the verse merely reiterates the same theme in different words. Targum Yonatan, however, writes that “act” and “service” indicate two different forms of charity: the reward for the “act” of tzedakah is peace; the reward for the “service” of tzedakah is eternal quietness and surety.

להבין ההפרש שבין מעשה לעבודה, ובין שלום להשקט ובטח

The difference between [the] “act” and “service” of tzedakah, and the difference between the rewards of “peace” and “quietness and surety,” will be understood

על פי מה שאמרו רז״ל על פסוק: עושה שלום במרומיו

by what our Sages, of blessed memory, said2 on the verse,3 “He makes peace in His high places”:

כי מיכאל שר של מים וגבריאל שר של אש, ואין מכבין זה את זה

“Michael is the prince of water and Gabriel is the prince of fire, yet they do not extinguish one another.”

Though water seeks to quench fire and fire endeavors to vaporize water, and “Michael is the prince of water and Gabriel is the prince of fire,” nevertheless they do not extinguish one another.


This means to say, not that Michael’s substance derives from the spiritual element of water and Gabriel’s substance derives from the spiritual element of fire, but that

שמיכאל שר של חסד

Michael is the prince of Chesed (“kindness”),

הנקרא בשם מים, היורדים ממקום גבוה למקום נמוך

which is called “water”, because it descends from a high place to a low place.

והוא בחינת ההשפעה והתפשטות החיות מעולמות עליונים לתחתונים

In spiritual terms this [descent] means: the bestowal and diffusion of the [Divine] life-force from the higher to the lower worlds.

ובחינת אש, שטבעה לעלות למעלה, היא בחינת הגבורה, והסתלקות השפעת החיות ממטה למעלה

Fire, whose nature is to soar aloft, represents spiritually the thrust of Gevurah (“severity”), and the upward withdrawal of the flow of life-force,

שלא להשפיע רק בצמצום עצום ורב

in order not to bestow [it] except by way of an intense and immense contraction.

והן מדות נגדיות והפכיות זו לזו

Now these attributes are in conflict, Chesed representing unlimited effusion, and Gevurah representing limitation and contraction,

והיינו, כשהן בבחינת מדות לבדן

but only when they are in their pristine state as attributes.

Inasmuch as the attributes are inherently limited (and indeed the very word middah means “measure”), each of them is confined to its innate characteristics, Chesed to expansiveness, Gevurah to withdrawal.

אך הקב״ה עושה שלום ביניהם

But the Holy One, blessed be He, makes peace between them, so that they should not oppose one another,

דהיינו על ידי גילוי, שמתגלה בהן הארה רבה והשפעה עצומה מאד מאור אין סוף ברוך הוא

through a revelation — so that an immense illumination and an intense effusion from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light is revealed within them.

אשר כשמו כן הוא

For like His Name (viz., Ein Sof — “the Infinite One”), so is He.

שאינו בבחינת מדה, חס ושלום

He is not, Heaven forfend, on the [measured] plane of an attribute,

אלא למעלה מעלה, עד אין קץ

but transcends exceedingly, ad infinitum,

אפילו מבחינת חב״ד, מקור המדות

even the rank of [the intellectual faculties of] ChaBaD, which is the source of the attributes, and surely He transcends the attributes themselves.

ואזי המדות נגדיות של מיכאל וגבריאל נכללות במקורן ושרשן

And then, when G‑d’s infinite light is revealed within the attributes, the opposing attributes of Michael and Gabriel (Chesed and Gevurah) are absorbed in their source and root,

והיו לאחדים ממש

and they become truly unified,

ובטלים באורו יתברך, המאיר להם בבחינת גילוי

and are nullified in His light, which radiates to them in a manifest way.

Once their individuality is nullified, they no longer oppose each other.

By way of analogy: The intense enmity of two high officials dissolves, in the presence of their sovereign, into friendship. It is because of their joint nullification before the king that this unity comes about. So, too, the defined bounds of the various attributes dissipate in the face of the limitless revelation of the infinite light.

ואזי מתמזגות ומתמתקות הגבורות בחסדים

The Gevurot are thereby tempered and mellowed (lit., “sweetened”) in the Chassadim, and are transformed into good and kindness,

על ידי בחינה ממוצעת, קו המכריע ומטה כלפי חסד

by a mediary, the determining factor between Chesed and Gevurah, which leans towards Chesed,

היא מדת הרחמים

i.e., the attribute of Rachamim (“mercy”).

When Chesed does not insist (so to speak) on an unlimited revelation of kindness (but is satisfied to reveal the G‑dly illumination in a finite manner), and Gevurah insists only on witholding the revelation from those who are unworthy of receiving it (but does not insist on blocking the revelation altogether, even from the worthy — then the mediating attribute of mercy, which leans toward kindness, declares that while a particular recipient may not be strictly worthy of the kindness to be shown, he is at least worthy of being granted it out of compassion.

הנקראת בשם תפארת, בדברי חכמי האמת

This attribute of Rachamim is called Tiferet (“beauty”) in the terminology of the Kabbalists (lit., “the scholars of truth”),

לפי שהיא כלולה מב׳ גוונין, לובן ואודם

because it is made up of the two colors white and red,

המרמזים לחסד וגבורה

which allude to Chesed and Gevurah, respectively.

Rachamim is therefore called Tiferet, because there is beauty in the harmony of diverse colors.

ולכן סתם שם הוי׳ ברוך הוא שבכל התורה, מורה על מדת התפארת

The Divine Name Havayah (the Tetragrammaton), as it appears unqualified throughout the Torah, therefore indicates the attribute of Tiferet,

כמו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש

as is stated in the sacred Zohar.4

Each of the Divine Names indicates one of the Supernal Attributes: the Name E-l, for example, indicates Chesed; Elokim indicates Gevurah; and any unqualified appearance of the ultimate Divine Name — Havayah, which is known as Shem HaEtzem (“the Essential Name”) — alludes to the attribute of Tiferet. Why is this the case?

לפי שכאן הוא בחינת גילוי אור אין סוף ברוך הוא, הארה רבה

For here, in Tiferet, the [infinite] Ein Sof-light becomes manifest in an immense illumination,

ביתר שאת משאר מדותיו הקדושות יתברך

surpassing that of the other Divine attributes.

This, then, is the meaning of the above quotation, that “He makes peace in His high places”: The revelation of G‑d’s infinite light “makes peace” between Michael and Gabriel, who represent Chesed and Gevurah.

והנה אתערותא דלעילא, לעורר גילוי הארה רבה והשפעה עצומה הנ״ל מאור אין סוף ברוך הוא

Now, the arousal from above, that elicits a manifestation of this great illumination and immense diffusion from the [infinite] Ein Sof-light

לעשות שלום הנ״ל

in order to bring about the above-mentioned peace,

היא באתערותא דלתתא

is effected by an arousal from below —

במעשה הצדקה

by the act of charity,

והשפעת חיים חן וחסד ורחמים

and by the benevolent bestowal by one man to another of “life, graciousness, kindness and compassion”5

למאן דלית ליה מגרמיה כלום

to him who has nothing of his own,

ולהחיות רוח שפלים כו׳

thereby “to revive the spirit of the lowly, [and to revive the heart of the downcast].”6

When one gives tzedakah to a pauper7 “while raising his spirits” with a few warm and supportive words, so that he is given not only “life” but “graciousness, kindness and compassion” as well, then this arousal from below results in an arousal from above. This releases an intense illumination of the infinite Ein Sof-light into the Supernal Attributes, thereby making peace between them, and tempering and sweetening the Gevurot in the Chassadim.

The Alter Rebbe will now go on to explain the effect of the “act” of tzedakah upon the individual benefactor himself, in terms of his battle with the evil of his animal soul.

The animal soul may be refined, and the good within it separated and elevated from its evil, in one of two ways:

One possible direction of attack is “from below to above” (milmatah lemaalah), whereby each attribute of the divine soul does battle with its counterpart in the animal soul, seeking to refine and elevate it. For example: the divine soul’s love for G‑d seeks to purify the animal soul’s attribute of Chesed with its fleshly desires; the divine soul’s fear of G‑d seeks to refine the animal soul’s evil kinds of fear; and so on.

Then there is a manner of purification that proceeds “from above to below” (milmaalah lematah), whereby one draws down a Divine light upon oneself so that the attributes of the animal soul spontaneously become purified and elevated within this light.

This approach anticipates the Time to Come, when the world as a whole will become purified of all evil through the G‑dliness that will then be manifest, until ultimately,8 “I shall remove the spirit of impurity from the earth.”

A similar manner of refining the animal soul exists today. It is accomplished through studying Torah lishmah, “for its own sake.” By studying in this way — altruistically, without thought of even spiritual gain — the individual draws down a G‑dly illumination that enables him not only to overwhelm the evil within him, but also to sift out the good within his animal soul from the evil in which it had been encumbered.

In the same way, when a Jew practices the “act” of tzedakah he draws down upon himself a G‑dly enlightenment that becomes revealed within him during prayer, and this enables him to extract the good within his animal soul from the surrounding evil and to elevate it.

ומודעת זאת מה שאמרו רז״ל על העוסק בתורה לשמה

It is well-known that our Sages, of blessed memory, said9 of a person who engages in the study of Torah for its own sake,

משים שלום בפמליא של מעלה ובפמליא של מטה

that “he makes peace within the heavenly retinue and within the terrestial retinue.”

פמליא של מעלה, הם השרים והמדות הנ״ל

The “heavenly retinue” comprises the above-mentioned “princes” and attributes,

שהן ההיכלות עליונים בעולם הבריאה שבזהר הקדוש

for these are the supernal heichalot (lit., “chambers”) in the World of Beriah, as stated in the sacred Zohar.

Peace there consists of the harmonious relationship that is established when Gevurah merges into Chesed and becomes sweetened and tempered by it.

ופמליא של מטה, הן ההיכלות התחתונים

The “terrestial retinue” comprises the lower heichalot,

ובפרט עולם הזה השפל

and especially this lowly world

המעורב טוב ורע מחטא אדם הראשון

which, since the sin of Adam, is mingled of good and evil,

As a result of Adam’s sin, there is no good in this world without evil and no evil without good.

והרע שולט על הטוב

and the evil rules over the good,

כמו שכתוב: אשר שלט האדם באדם גו׳

as it is written,10 “While man rules over man....” I.e., the “man of wickedness,” representing the forces of kelipah, rules over the “man of holiness” — and harms him, too, as the verse concludes.

ולאום מלאום יאמץ

[It is also written],11 “And nation will overpower nation,” as the balance of power fluctuates between the forces of good and the forces of evil.

וכנראה בחוש באדם התחתון, הנקרא בשם עולם קטן

This is empirically evident with terrestrial man, who is called a microcosm,12

שלפעמים הטוב גובר, ולפעמים להיפך, חס ושלום

for sometimes the good [within him] prevails, and sometimes the reverse, heaven forfend.

ואין שלום בעולם עד עת קץ

Therefore there will be no peace in the world until the ultimate time (lit., “the time of the End”), when evil will cease to exist,

שיתברר הטוב מהרע

when the good shall be refined from the evil

לידבק בשרשו ומקורו, מקור החיים ברוך הוא

in order to cleave to its root and source, the Divine Source of Life.

ואזי יתפרדו כל פועלי און, ורוח הטומאה יעבור מן הארץ

At that time13 “all evildoers shall be scattered,” and14 the spirit of impurity shall pass from the earth,

כשיתברר מתוכו בחינת הטוב המחייהו

when the element of the good which sustains it will be extracted from its midst.

Evil will then cease to exist as a matter of course, for its entire existence is dependent on the good found within it.

ובירור זה יהיה גם כן על ידי גילוי אלקותו למטה

This refinement itself, of the good from the evil, will also take place through a manifestation of Divinity below,

For just as the refinement as a whole is accomplished through our actions and efforts throughout the time of exile,15 so, too, the actual refinement will result from the revelation of G‑dliness in this world.

בהארה רבה והשפעה עצומה

with a great illumination and immense effulgence,

כמו שכתוב: כי מלאה הארץ דעה את ה׳

as it is written,16 “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of G‑d,”

ונגלה כבוד ה׳ גו׳

and17 “The glory of G‑d shall be revealed....”

וזהו בכללות העולם לעתיד

Now, this is as regards the future of the world, in general.

In the Time to Come the good will be refined and elevated from the evil through the revelation of G‑dliness that will then be manifest.

אך באדם התחתון

But as regards terrestrial man,

בכל עת מצוא

at every “time of finding,” every propitious time for finding G‑d,18

זו תפלה

meaning prayer,19

או שאר עתים מזומנים להתבודד עם קונו

or at other times designated for secluding oneself with one’s Maker,

כל אחד לפי מעשיו זוכה למעין בירור זה, על ידי עסק התורה לשמה

every individual, in proportion to his deeds, is granted a foretaste of this refinement by engaging in the study of Torah for its own sake.

The Divine revelation that permeates his soul enables him to refine and elevate the good from the evil.

וכן על ידי הצדקה

The same is accomplished by means of charity,

כמו שכתוב: ר׳ אלעזר יהיב פרוטה לעני, והדר מצלי

as it is related,20 “R. Elazar would give a coin to a poor man, and then pray,

דכתיב: אני בצדק אחזה פניך

for it is written,21 ‘Through tzedek will I behold Your Countenance.”’

The Hebrew צדק literally means “righteousness”, but shares a common root with tzedakah (“charity”). By prefacing prayer with tzedek, one is granted during prayer a spiritual perception that penetrates to the innermost aspect of G‑dliness — “Your Countenance” (for the Hebrew פנים connotes both “face” and “interior”).

היא בחינת גילוי הארה והשפעת הדעת והתבונה

This [revelation during prayer] is a manifest illumination and effusion of knowledge and understanding,

להתבונן בגדולת ה׳

[enabling one] to meditate on the greatness of G‑d,

ולהוליד מזה דחילו ורחימו שכליים

in order to beget thereby an intellectually-generated awe and love,


as is known.

ועל ידי זה, נברר הטוב לה׳, ונפרד הרע

And through this the good is extracted for G‑d and elevated to Him, and the evil is separated,

כמו שכתוב: מצרף לכסף וכור לזהב, ואיש לפי מהללו

as it is written,22 “The crucible is for [refining] silver and the melting-pot is for gold, and man [is refined] according to his praise.”

פירוש: לפי הילולו את ה׳ בעומק הדעת

This means, “according to his praise of G‑d” during prayer with profound knowledge

להוליד דחילו ורחימו

in order to beget awe and love.23

ככה נברר הטוב ונפרד הרע

In this way the good is extracted and the evil is separated,

כבירור ופירוד הסיגים מכסף וזהב במצרף וכור

just as dross is separated from silver and gold in a crucible or melting-pot.

והנה מודעת זאת שישראל בטבעם הם רחמנים וגומלי חסדים

Now, it is well known that Jews by their very nature act compassionately and perform deeds of lovingkindness.24

מפני היות נפשותיהם נמשכות ממדותיו יתברך

[This is so] because their souls issue from G‑d’s attributes,

אשר החסד גובר בהן על מדת הדין והגבורה והצמצום

in which Chesed prevails over the attribute of din, Gevurah, and tzimtzum,

וכמו שכתוב: גבר חסדו על יראיו

as it is written,25 “His Chesed prevails over those who fear Him,” alluding to the fact that the Divine attribute of Chesed prevails over the Divine attribute of Gevurah.

שלכן נקראת הנשמה בת כהן, כמו שכתוב בזהר הקדוש

The soul is therefore called “daughter of the priest,” since it derives from the attribute of Chesed which is called “Kohen”, as is written in the sacred Zohar.26

Since the soul derives from the Divine attributes which are dominated by kindness and compassion, Jews by their very nature are kind and compassionate.

והנה הצדקה הנמשכת מבחינה זו נקראת בשם מעשה הצדקה

Now, the charity that issues from this source — from the soul’s inherently kind and compassionate nature — is referred to as “the act of charity,”

כי שם מעשה נופל על דבר שכבר נעשה, או שנעשה תמיד ממילא

for the term “act” (maaseh) applies to that which is already done, or which is constantly being done spontaneously;

והיא דבר ההווה ורגיל תמיד

thus, something existent, common and constant.

ואף כאן

Here, too, with regard to tzedakah that is motivated by the soul’s innate sense of kindness and compassion,

הרי מדת החסד והרחמנות הוטבעה בנפשות כל בית ישראל מכבר

the trait of kindness and compassion is implanted in the souls of the entire House of Israel from aforetime,

מעת בריאותן והשתלשלותן ממדותיו יתברך

from the time that they were created and that they evolved from G‑d’s attributes,

כמו שכתוב: ויפח באפיו גו׳

as it is written27 in regard to Adam’s soul entering his body, “And He blew into his nostrils [a soul of life],”

ואתה נפחת בי

[and we likewise say]28 concerning the entry of each and every soul into its individual body, “You blew it into me,”

ומאן דנפח כו׳

and29 “He who blows, [blows from within him],” from his innermost being.

So, too, in the analogue: Since the soul emanates from the inward aspect of the Divine attributes, it is infused with them as well, so that the attribute of kindness dominates the soul even as it finds itself within the body.

וגם בכל יום ויום, בטובו מחדש מעשה בראשית

Furthermore,30 in His goodness [G‑d] renews the act (maaseh) of creation every single day, and this includes the supernal attributes.

וחדשים לבקרים גו׳

Likewise, with regard to souls below, [it is written],31 “They are new every morning....”

“Act” (maaseh) thus refers to a constant process, such as the renewal of the soul with its characteristic traits of kindness and compassion. The “act of tzedakah” hence refers to the tzedakah which a Jew practices by virtue of these innate character traits.

אך לשון עבודה אינו נופל אלא על דבר שהאדם עושה ביגיעה עצומה, נגד טבע נפשו

The term “service” (avodah), however, applies only to what a man does with immense exertion, contrary to his soul’s inclination,

Indeed, it is his very disinclination for a particular task that works against him, and necessitates such exertion.

רק שמבטל טבעו ורצונו, מפני רצון העליון ברוך הוא

but he overrules his nature and will out of deference to the Supreme Will;

כגון לייגע עצמו בתורה ובתפלה, עד מיצוי הנפש כו׳

exhausting himself, for example, in Torah and prayer, “to the extent of pressing out the soul....”32

Since the soul is not naturally inclined to such a situation, a great deal of toil and effort is required.

ואף כאן, במצות הצדקה, ליתן הרבה יותר מטבע רחמנותו ורצונו

In our case, too, with regard to the commandment of giving charity, [to “serve” entails] giving far more than [would be prompted by] the nature of one’s compassion and will.

וכמו שאמרו רז״ל על פסוק: נתון תתן, אפילו מאה פעמים

As our Sages, of blessed memory, commented33 on the verse,34 “Give, you shall give”: “...even a hundred times.”

וזהו שכתוב: והיה מעשה הצדקה

This, then, is the meaning of the verse, “And the act of charity shall be [peace]” —

שגם הצדקה הנקראת בשם מעשה, ולא בשם עבודה

that even with the kind of charity which is called an “act” and not “service”,

אף על פי כן באתערותא דלתתא, אתערותא דלעילא

[this] arousal from below will nevertheless elicit an arousal from above.

מעורר גילוי אור אין סוף ברוך הוא בהארה רבה והשפעה עצומה

One arouses a manifestation of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light with a great illumination and an intense diffusion,

ונעשה שלום במרומיו

and peace is brought about “in [G‑d’s] high places,” between Michael and Gabriel, Chesed and Gevurah,

וגם בפמליא של מטה

and also within the terrestial retinue — the lower worlds.

רק שבעולם הזה השפל לא יתגלה השלום, והבירור ופירוד הרע מהטוב

In this lowly world, however, there will be no manifestation of [this] peace, and of the refinement and separation of the evil from the good,

עד עת קץ

until the ultimate time, when evil will cease to exist,

ולא בזמן הגלות

but not during the time of the exile, as explained above,

רק בעולם קטן, הוא האדם

except in the microcosm, i.e., in man,

בכל עת מצוא, זו תפלה

at every “time of finding,” meaning prayer,

כמו שכתוב: בצדק אחזה פניך, כנ״ל

as it is written, “Through tzedek will I behold Your countenance,” as discussed above.

אך אחר התפלה, יוכל להיות הרע חוזר וניעור בקל, ולהתערב בטוב

Even so, after prayer it is possible that the evil will easily reawaken and become intermingled with the good

כאשר יתהלך בחשכת עולם הזה

as one walks about in the darkness of this world.

אך הצדקה בבחינת עבודה

However, as to the charity [which is practiced with self-imposed toil] at the level of avodah (“service”),

הנה כאשר יקרה וגדלה מעלתה במאד מאד

since it is exceedingly precious and lofty, far more so than the tzedakah one practices out of one’s natural inclination,

בהיותו מבטל טבעו ורצונו הגופני מפני רצון העליון ברוך הוא

because [in the former case] one overrules his nature and bodily will out of deference to the Supreme Will,

ואתכפיא סטרא אחרא

and “the sitra achra is subjugated,”

ואזי אסתלק יקרא דקודשא בריך הוא כו׳

and then “the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, rises [and becomes manifest in all the worlds],”35

וכיתרון האור מן החשך דוקא, כנודע

“like the superiority of light over (lit., ‘out of’) darkness,”36 as is known, —

The excellence of light is most appreciated when darkness itself is transformed into light.

אי לזאת, אין הרע יכול להיות עוד חוזר וניעור בקלות כל כך מאליו

in such a case, by virtue of the exertion involved in this superior form of tzedakah, the evil can no longer reawaken so easily of itself,

רק אם האדם יעוררנו וימשיכנו על עצמו, חס ושלום

unless, heaven forfend, one rouses it and draws it upon himself.

וזהו שכתוב: השקט ובטח עד עולם

This, then, is the meaning of “quietness and surety forever” — that the reward for the service of charity is eternal quietness and surety.

השקט הוא מלשון: שוקט על שמריו, דהיינו שהשמרים נפרדים לגמרי מן היין, ונופלין למטה לגמרי

Hashket (“quietness”) is related to [the root of the verb in] the phrase,37 “he rests (shoket) on his dregs,” meaning that the dregs are completely separated from the wine and sink all the way down,

והיין למעלה זך וצלול בתכלית

while the wine above is wholly pure and clear.

ועל דרך זה הוא בעבודת הצדקה

Similarly with the service of charity:

השמרים הן בחינת תערובת רע שבנפשו

the dregs represent the admixture of evil in one’s soul,

נברר ונפרד מעט מעט

which is gradually extricated and separated

עד שנופל למטה למקורו ושרשו

until it falls netherwards to its root and source — below all the worlds,

וכמו שכתוב: ותשליך במצולות ים כל חטאתם

as it is written,38 “And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”39