Deeds of Kindness: Giving of Oneself

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From the Rebbe’s talk:

– The unity that we share with others should not remain merely in the realm of feeling, but should be translated into actual deeds of love and kindness. In regard to the sacrifices that were brought in the Beis HaMikdash, it is written:

“A person who shall bring from you….” (Vayikra 1:2.).

The Alter Rebbe notes that seemingly it would have been more proper to say, “A person of you who shall bring….” The transposition of the words in the verse, however, indicates that the offering must be “from you,” of a person’s own self (Likkutei Torah, Parshas Vayikra).

A similar concept applies in regard to tzedakah.

One should not give merely what is left over after one has taken care of one’s own needs, but should give “from you,” from one’s own self.

And these gifts should be substantial. To borrow the words of a verse:

“Everything a person owns he will give for the sake of his life » (Iyov 2:4).

In Tanya, Iggeres HaKodesh, ch. 3, the Alter Rebbe explains that although our Sages prescribe that a person should not give more than a fifth of his resources to tzedakah, there are certain situations when a person can — and indeed should — transcend these limits.

 

Thus, there are three « levels » of devoting oneself to the deed of goodness and kindness:

  • “Asser te’asser » – tithe of one’s capability (1/10),
  • « Not more than a fifth » of one’s capability (1/20),
  • “Everything a person owns he will give for the sake of his life.”

 

Similarly, the realization of the fundamental unity we share with others will prompt us to give generously, without limits.

Moreover, our gifts to tzedakah should constantly be increased. Every moment, the creation as a whole is being renewed and is receiving additional blessings through G‑d’s benevolence. Therefore, at every moment, we should renew and increase our commitment to tzedakah, amplifying the manner in which we help others…

From the Rebbe’s talk on Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel, 25th Day of Adar I, 5752 (1992).

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