When the heart feels, the soul shines. * Charity: The soul's boundless currency. * On Tanya for 4 Elul.
The Tanya lesson of the day delves into the spiritual potency of genuine penitence and boundless acts of charity. At its core, the lesson asserts: "The essence of penitence is in the heart...through regret from the depth of the heart, one arouses the [corresponding] depth of this supreme light." It reveals the profound interconnectedness between the heart's genuine regret and the illumination of the soul. Perhaps the most provocative element is the idea that "All the blemishes that a man caused above...are thereby rectified" through limitless charity.
How can a heartfelt act of giving have such transformative power?
The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidism, taught that every action, speech, and thought in this world creates a ripple in the spiritual realms. These ripples can either enhance or obscure the divine light. This concept is embedded in the Tanya's assertion: "viz., the practice of charity and kindness without limit and measure."
Now, let's consider the words of the great sage Maimonides in his code, Mishneh Torah (Laws of Gifts to the Poor 10:7): "We are obligated to be more scrupulous in the performance of charity than in any other positive commandment." This implies that the act of giving has a profound effect, not only on the recipient but on the giver's soul, aligning it more closely with the divine essence.
Let's imagine a real-world scenario: Picture a busy city street, bustling with people, noise, and activity. Amidst the chaos, a person pauses, noticing a homeless individual holding a sign asking for help. The passerby feels a genuine pang of compassion, reaching into their pocket and giving generously without hesitation or expectation. In that moment, a profound spiritual shift occurs - for both the giver and the recipient, and arguably for the world itself.
The beauty of these ancient teachings lies in their eternal relevance. In a world often focused on material pursuits and individual achievement, the act of boundless giving offers a refreshing perspective. By tapping into the infinite light of the soul through genuine penitence and boundless charity, we reconnect with our truest selves and with the divine. And, with Moshiach's imminent arrival, every act of kindness and charity brings us closer to realizing a world of ultimate harmony and divine revelation.
So next time your heart feels a tug, let it guide you. For in that feeling, in that moment of giving, lies an opportunity: to illuminate your soul, rectify the world, and draw one step closer to ultimate redemption.