Charity: Rabbi Nachman

In Rabbi Nachman’s book called Advise he deals with the issue of charity and how in effects the soul and helps to quicken our spirit toward G-D. Discover the joy of giving charity.

1) You should give to charity before you pray. This is the way to avoid the extraneous thoughts which come to a person while praying. You will be able to pray properly without straying to the right or the left. You will order and measure your words in the scale of justice (2).

2) Giving charity to Torah scholars will protect you against timewasting and malicious gossip. It will also save you from pride and all related character defects. Giving charity is a protection against poverty and will make you wealthy (4:8).

3) In order to break your appetite for riches you must give charity. The harsh anger which hangs over the world will be dissipated, and God’s providence will be drawn over the whole world. Through giving charity the force of love and kindness is brought into the world; the Messiah is revealed, and the Holy Temple, which is itself the revelation of the knowledge of God rebuilt. The unification of the Holy One, blessed-be-He and the Shechinah then becomes complete. Through this we will become worthy of the new revelation of Torah which is destined to come about in the future. The upper and lower chariots are restored, and it is accounted like an offering of incense (13).

4) Through giving charity to the true Tzaddikim and to poor people who genuinely deserve it, converts are made. Through this one attains perfect wisdom and becomes worthy of seeing the light of the Tzaddikim. This is how to achieve the love and fear of Heaven (17:5).

5) When a person gives charity to the true Tzaddikim and to poor people who genuinely deserve it, it is as if he gave charity to many, many Jewish souls (Ibid.).

6) This kind of charity enables all the goodness which is held captive amidst the heathen nations of the world to be brought back to mind and be remembered. This goodness is all the sparks of Jewish souls which have fallen into exile, and because of the length of the exile they have forgotten their true worth. Giving charity enables these souls to remember what they really are and how they have fallen from heaven to earth. They start to take pity on themselves, and long and yearn to be restored. Because the real essence of the soul is beyond all the worlds for `Israel arose in His thought first’ (Bereshith Rabbah 1) and `the Holy One, blessed-be-He, consulted with the souls of Israel when He created the world’ (Ibid. 8). But now these sparks are trapped in exile, and they are in danger of being destroyed and going to waste, God forbid. But when they remember their own exaltedness they repent and their holiness is restored. If you think about all this carefully you will see for yourself how far you need to take care of yourself and have pity on yourself and your condition, considering the true preciousness of your soul. You should say to yourself: `Am I not from the seed of Israel, who are above all the worlds? What have I come to? Who knows what will be in the future? Is the Evil One trying to destroy me, God forbid?’ Think deeply about this, and you will be so overwhelmed with the desire to do something for yourself that you will try with all your might to return to God (Ibid. 6).

7) When a person gives some of his money to a poor person who genuinely deserves it, it is a tikkun for all his money. The `supernal colors’ are revealed through his money this is the main revelation of the greatness of the Creator. The husks are thereby broken and humbled namely the fantasies, desires and distractions which rise up against a person every time he has to climb from one level to the next and which range themselves against him to prevent him entering the gates of holiness. Giving charity makes it possible to break the husks and rise from level to level (25:4).

8) Charity is the comprehensive tikkun for business activity. With every step a person takes as he goes about his business, with every word he speaks and every ounce of strength he puts into his work, he should have it in mind that his only goal is to give charity from the money he earns (29:9).

9) Giving charity expands and elevates the mind, and this brings blessing and livelihood (Ibid.).

10) Through giving charity one can come to speak words which radiate with the wisdom of Torah (Ibid. 10).

11) Acts of charity and lovingkindness have the power to undermine alien ideologies and release us from the burdens of worldly authorities, and we can achieve a perception of Godliness (30:7).

12) When the Sages criticize us and point out our faults, we should accept their criticisms submissively, even if at times they are expressed in a derogatory way. Through this we will be worthy of performing acts of charity and lovingkindness (Ibid.).

13) All the heavenly constellations are directed and governed by tzedakah, charity. It is through charity that all blessings flow into the world. But only on Shabbat are the blessings perfect. Shabbat is the embodiment of faith. The main significance of charity is that it is an expression of faith. This is why the true radiance of the light of charity and its perfection are seen only on Shabbat the embodiment of faith (31).

14) One should give charity before going on a journey. Then he will be saved from any obstacles and troubles on the way (Ibid.).

15) The central aspect of any fast is the charity which the person who is fasting gives. Fasting and charity make it possible to subdue the body as against the soul, substance as against form, folly as against wisdom. One emerges from darkness to light, from death to life, from animality to the level of Man. The force of alien ideologies and all other false and foolish idea-systems is broken, and the wisdom of Torah, which is the true wisdom, comes into its place. The hold of forgetfulness is broken, and in its place comes memory. The harsh judgments and darkness are dissipated, and love is brought into the world (37).

16) Charity given for the Land of Israel is greater than charity for other causes. When you give charity for the Land of Israel you become included in the air of the Land of Israel, which is holy breath without the taint of sin. Harsh judgements, darkness, forgetfulness and folly are banished from the world (Ibid. 4).

17) You must aim to be contented. You must be contented with just as much as is essential for you to take from this world. And even out of that you must still devote a portion to charity. The effect of this in the upper worlds is to bring about a great unification, and abundant blessings are brought into the world (54:2).

18) Charity for the Land of Israel can save you from distracting thoughts while you are praying. Your mind and thoughts are clarified and purified. This is tikkun habrit (44).

19) Charity brings abundant peace (57:7).

20) Acts of charity bring blessings of love into the world. The honor and majesty of the forces of holiness are released from the husks and the Other Side. The lust for food is broken. The prestige and power of those who are arrogant and self-assertive is broken, and honor is returned to the true leaders (67).

21) During the morning service, when you reach the words `And You have dominion over everything’ (Chronicles I, 29:12) you should give to charity. The reason for this is to elevate glory and dominion from the forces of the Other Side and return them to the side of holiness (Ibid. 7).

22) When a person gives charity, it is a tikkun for all his money. This way it will stay with him, and his livelihood will be sent in abundance (69).

23) One who gives charity to a Tzaddik who is truly humble is immediately blessed (70).

24) Giving charity in secret is a tikkun for a wasteful emission at night (83).

25) Charity saves from sin (116).

26) Through charity comes wisdom (119).

27) A segulah for epilepsy, God forbid, is to distribute charity to the poor. In the Hebrew words of the verse: `He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the needy’ (Psalms 112:9) the first letters of each word, Pizar Matan La-evyonim, spell out the word NoPheL, which is the word for epilepsy (201).

28) The charity you give to Torah scholars is something great and precious. No sin can extinguish this merit (204).

29) The Sages ordained that we should give between a tenth and a fifth of our income to charity. This tithe has the power to save us from our enemies (221).

30) The tithe we give to charity brings us contentment (Ibid.).

31) Charity protects against immoral fantasies (242).

32) Charity is a remedy for immorality. But it is important not to give money to a poor person who is undeserving because this only makes things worse. One must beg God to make him worthy of finding poor people who deserve to be helped (264).

33) The merit of those who support the Torah and give money for Torah scholars is very great indeed. This money makes it possible for them to devote themselves to Torah, to give birth to new legal rulings and to open up new horizons in Torah. Those who gave the money therefore have a share in the Torah which was born and revealed through their help. Whatever they gave to the Torah scholars and whatever they themselves went short of as a result, will all be made up to them later on, by means of the new Torah concepts which came into being through their help.Revelations of Torah bring an influx of love into the world which completes all that was lacking. Those who support Torah scholars will be rewarded with the delights of the World to Come (II 2:2).

34) It is speech that gives man his uniqueness. The roots of speech lie in charity. The instinct to give charity and show lovingkindness is peculiar to man. It is in the nature of Man, the Speaker, to show kindness to his fellow creatures. When a person fails to act kindly and charitably it is a stain on the faculty of speech and he cannot be defined as a Man (225).

35) When we give charity, the main task is to break our instinct to be cruel and turn it in to lovingkindness in order to give generously. When a person who is kind by nature gives charity purely out of instinct, it cannot be called an act of service of God. In order to fulfill the mitzvah of charity in the proper way, one must first experience the battle of breaking his natural instinct to be cruel and turn it into love in order to give to charity (II, 4:1,2).

36) Charity has the power to widen the entrance to holiness. When a person wants to embark upon a certain path of devotion, he first needs to make an opening in order to enter his new path. This is why all beginnings are hard. But giving charity makes the entrance wider (Ibid. 2).

37) Any act of charity is very hard and heavy at the beginning. But the effects of charity are great beyond measure. The body has many needs even the essentials, like food, drink, clothing and shelter are very demanding. They are all a distraction from one’s religious devotions. But charity has the power to break all these obstacles because it opens up the channels of God’s blessing and love to the point where one has no need to work at all in order to have what he needs to live. All his work will be done by others, leaving him free to devote himself to the service of God (Ibid. 3).

38) Charity is the remedy for the damage caused when the elders of the generation do not lead their lives as they should. Through remedying this, it is possible to strike at the very roots of materialism the idea that everything in the world is dominated by the laws of nature. Then we can hear the mesSage of the three festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Succot: that everything takes place only through the will of God. Each of the festivals recalls the miracles that were brought about for us miracles transcending nature. To be aware that God’s will transcends the laws of nature, is to experience the joy of the festivals and attain to the fear of Heaven.Fear of Heaven is the channel for receiving blessings so abundant that you will have not have to work at all, to have what you need to live (Ibid. 9).

39) Charity is the remedy for all wounds (Ibid. 12).

40) The true Tzaddik receives the words of his holy lips from those who give charity (II, 15).

41) Zealousness for the Lord of Hosts is accounted as an act of charity (65).

42) You must learn the thirteen Divine attributes of lovingkindness learn them in order to fulfill them in practice. You must cultivate the quality of love and do as many kindnesses as you can for other people.When we strive to fulfill each of the thirteen attributes of love, the thirteen supernal attributes of love are aroused, and the destructive angels brought into being through sin are humbled. Our own acts of kindness arouse God’s forgiveness, and He passes over our sins one after the other (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom 89).

Online English translation of Likutey Etzot
A compendium of Rabbi Nachman’s practical teachings on spiritual growth and devotion.
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5766 / 2006

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