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As Divided for a Leap Year
Tanya for 14 Menachem Av
In these terms, too, we can understand the meaning of [the above-quoted phrase], "Righteousness [or charity] shall go (yehaleich) before Him (lefanav)." The word lefanav shares a root with pnimiyut ("inwardness"), and yehaleich - [the 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."]
For [tzedakah] leads the innermost point of [a man's] heart towards G-d, and then  "he sets his steps"  towards the way of G-d" - as it is written,  "And you shall walk in His ways," [and likewise,]  "You shall go after the L-rd your G-d" - with [his] entire performance of the commandments, and with [his]  "study of Torah, which is equivalent to them all."
For they all ascend to G-d through the inwardness of the heart, [which is revealed through the service of tzedakah,] [and this ascent is] more intense and reaches far higher than their ascent to G-d through the externality of the heart, [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."
For the Supernal "countenance" does not radiate downwards except through an arousal initiated from below, through an act of charity, charity being called "peace".
And this is the meaning of the verse that says,  "He has redeemed my soul in peace" - [or, "through peace." This, as explained by our Sages,  refers to tzedakah and acts of loving-kindness that are known as "peace".
[The verse speaks] expressly of "my soul,"  [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.]
This is also the reason for which charity is called "peace", 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," through the redemption of their souls, which are truly a part of G-d, from the grip of the forces of evil.
[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, for it is truly the charity of G-d, [since it is directed to a place where the Divine Name is revealed, 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."
[In this vein it is also written,]  "And My eyes and My heart will be there at all times." 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.]
And this [charity] will stand by us forever - to set our souls in the true life of the Fountainhead of Life, so that we will be  "enlightened with the light of life" which G-d  "will make His Face radiate with us, Selah." Amen, may this be His will.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 85:14, continuing the verse which began, "Tzedek shall go before Him,..."
- (Back to text) Regarding the term Pe-omov (his steps) - and so too Pe-omenu ("our steps") later on - the Tzemach Tzedek (in his comment on this verse in Tehillim) refers the reader to the maamar entitled Paamon VeRimon (which appears in Or HaTorah, Parshat Tetzaveh).(Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)
- (Back to text) Devarim 28:9.
- (Back to text) Ibid. 13:5.
- (Back to text) Mishnah, beginning of Peah.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 55:19.
- (Back to text) Berachot 8a, and Rashi ad loc.
- (Back to text) One would have expected the verse to say, "[He has redeemed] me" [rather than "my soul"], as in the verse, "You have redeemed me" (Tehillim 31:6).
(Note of the Rebbe Shlita.)
- (Back to text) Tosefta, Peah, ch. 1.
- (Back to text) Devarim 11:12.
- (Back to text) I Melachim 9:3.
- (Back to text) Iyov 33:30.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 67:2.
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