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Updated: Jul 18, 2023

"The miser felt a strange warmth and light in his heart after giving tzedaka. He wanted to feel more of that feeling, so he decided to give more." * On HaYom Yom for 6 Tammuz.

by Bing AI

Giving charity, tzedaka, is a mitzva that includes all other mitzvot. It's like the ultimate mitzva! It's written that "Tzedakah equals all the other commandments combined" (Bava Batra 9a). So, when we give tzedaka before doing any other mitzva, we're showing our commitment to fulfill the entire Torah and not just a specific part of it.

Tzedaka represents kindness (chesed), which is one of the seven emotional attributes (sefirot) that G-d used to create the world. By giving tzedaka before doing any other mitzva, we're bringing G-d's kindness into our hearts and into the world. Plus, we're sweetening any harsh judgments that may get in the way of our spiritual growth.

The secret behind this is that tzedaka corresponds to the first letter of G-d's name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (יהוה), which stands for G-d's mercy and compassion. By giving tzedaka before doing any other mitzva, we're recreating G-d's name in our actions. It's written: "When you give charity before praying, you cause G-d's name to be complete" (Zohar III:187b).

The law says that we should always give tzedaka before performing any mitzva, even if we're not asked to do so. This way, we can enhance our performance of the mitzva and increase our merit in G-d's eyes. The Code of Jewish Law even states: "It is proper to give charity before praying every morning" (Orach Chaim 92:10).

Here's a chassidic tale that shows this idea in action:

> Once upon a time, a poor man went to the Baal Shem Tov and asked for a blessing to become rich. The Baal Shem Tov told him to go to a certain town and find a wealthy Jew who would help him out. The poor man followed his advice and traveled to the town. He found out that the wealthy Jew was a miser who never gave any charity. He knocked on his door and begged for some money, but the miser refused to give him anything. The poor man kept pleading with him and mentioned that he came all the way from the Baal Shem Tov. The miser was curious and asked what the Baal Shem Tov had told him. The poor man said that he had told him to come to this town and find a wealthy Jew who would help him out. The miser was surprised and thought that maybe the Baal Shem Tov had seen something good in him that he himself didn't know about. He decided to give the poor man a small coin, hoping that this would be the fulfillment of the blessing. The poor man thanked him and left.

> As he was walking away, he saw a synagogue nearby. He thought to himself that he should give some of his coin to tzedaka before he used it for his own needs. He went into the synagogue and put half of his coin in the charity box. Then he prayed to G-d and asked Him to bless him with more wealth.

> Meanwhile, the miser was feeling restless and uneasy. He wondered if he had done enough by giving the poor man a small coin. He thought that maybe he should have given him more or even invited him into his house. He decided to go after him and find him. He ran out of his house and saw the poor man coming out of the synagogue. He called out to him and asked him to come back with him. He said that he wanted to give him more money and host him for a meal. The poor man agreed and followed him.

> When they arrived at his house, the miser opened his safe and took out a large sum of money. He gave it to the poor man and said that this was his gift to him. He also prepared a fancy meal for him and treated him with honor and kindness.

> The poor man was super happy and thanked him a lot. He asked what had made him change his mind and become so generous. The miser said that he had felt a strange warmth and light in his heart after he had given him the first coin, and that he had realized that this was because of giving tzedaka. He said that he wanted to feel more of that feeling, so he decided to give him more.

> The poor man realized that this was the true blessing of the Baal Shem Tov: not only had he become rich, but he had also made someone else become more generous and kind.

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