Vol 34.12 - Re'eh - Ellul        Spanish French Audio  Video

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Chumash     Rambam

(5748) (Deut 15:7ff): Increasing in the Mitzvah of Tzedaka in the month of Ellul. According to Rambam (Hil. Teshuvah 3:4): "it is customary for all of Israel to give profusely to charity, . . . from Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur to a greater extent than during the remainder of the year"

The difference between the two aspects in Rambam
1) To give profusely to charity, perform many good deeds
2) To rise [while it is still] night and pray in the synagogues with heart-rending words of supplication etc.

The connection of Tzedaka to the judgment of Rosh HaShanah



 1. The positive Mitzvah of giving Tzedaka is explained in our Parsha: "If there will be among you a needy person etc. you shall not harden your heart etc. open your hand to him" (as it states in Rambam and in the Chinuch)

According to the known maxim that all the Parshiot of the Torah are connected to the time when we read them, it is understood that there is a special connection between the Mitzvah of Tzedaka and the month of Elul
- for we always read the portion of Re'eh close to Rosh Chodesh Elul (either on Shabbat Mevarchim Elul or as in this year (5748) - on Rosh Chodesh Elul)
 meaning that we should increase in the Mitzvah of Tzedaka more than other days of the year.
And one could bring a proof to this from the precise words of Rambam on the Laws of Teshuvah(3:4) -
"Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar's call] is saying:
“Wake up you sleepy ones etc.. Improve your ways etc.. A person should always look at himself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin etc.. He tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others.
For these reasons, it is customary for all of Israel to give profusely to charity, perform many good deeds, and be occupied with Mitzvot from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur to a greater extent than during the remainder of the year.
During these ten days, the custom is for everyone to rise [while it is still] night and pray in the synagogues with heart-rending words of supplication until daybreak."
And since Rambam delineates the custom to "give profusely to charity“ from the general concept of “performing many good deeds and be occupied with Mitzvot", and moreover, since he precedes (charity) to the other items, it is understood that, even though, in this period, one must strengthen oneself in all matters of Torah and Mitzvot,  - firstly, one must "give profusely to charity"
And from this one can learn a similar idea with regards to the month of Elul, since it is similar to the Ten days of Repentance in many aspects:
1.  Elul is the month of Teshuvah
2. Just as the Ten days of Repentance are a preparation to the "sealed" (judgment) of Yom Kippur
 (and as explained in the commentaries , that this is the reason that we increase in Tzedaka etc.. in these days since , an average person's ("Beinoni") judgment  is deferred until Yom Kippur - if he repents he sealed for life"
– so too the entire month of Elul is a preparation to the "inscribing" (K’tivah) (the beginning of judgment) of Rosh Hashanah
3. Moreover, the entire forty days from Rosh Chodesh Elul until the conclusion of Yom Kippur is a continuation and singular block (object -“Cheftza”) of (days of) Teshuvah as it is explained in the Bach:
“the verse Ani L'Dodi, v'Dodi Li (“I am to my beloved and my beloved to me”) is the acronym (Rashei Teivos) - "Elul" and the Sofei Teivos (the final letters of consecutive words) - total forty signifying the 40 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur- for during these forty (Days), Teshuvah is accepted etc. my Beloved is near to accept Teshuvah from love”
From this it is understood that just as the during the Ten Days of Repentance there is an aspect to "increase in Tzedaka", so too during the month of Elul - the beginning of the strengthening of Torah and Mitzvot in this month must be in the aspect of Tzedaka (to "increase in Tzedaka")
And one could say that this (Tzedaka) is also alluded to in that the permutation of the Divine Name (Havaya) - which illuminates this month, and
(Note: Each month has a form of the four-letter Name of Hashem associated with it. These forms are spelled out by the initial or final letters of words within certain Torah verses. See Pardes Rimonim of the Ramak, 21:14 (The gematria of the four-letter Name is 26; multiplying by 12 yields 312, which happens to be the gematria of chodesh. – B’nai Yissoschor, Nisan 1:1))
comes from the Sofei Teivos “u- tzedaka tihyeh lanu ki" (nishmor la’asos es kol ha-mitzvah hazos - And it will be tzedaka for us if we are careful to perform this entire commandment. Deut 6:25)
One must understand:
 How is Tzedaka different form all the other aspects of Torah and Mitzvot, that the strengthening in this month ( and the Ten Days of Repentance) is specifically in the aspect of Tzedaka?
 2. One could seemingly say - that (the difference) is because giving Tzedaka atones for sins as it says: "and with charity you will remove your sin" (Daniel 4:24 – literally: With charity, break your sin off your neck). And as the Alter Rebbe expounds in Igerret HaTeshuvah (http://www.chabad.org/library/tanya/tanya_cdo/aid/7936/jewish/Chapter-3.htm)
According to this one can explain the precise wording "to increase" in Tzedaka,
Because according to the Laws of Tzedaka, there seemingly is a limit- an equal obligation - a tenth, a fifth for those that are scrupulous in Mitzvot, but not more than this. As Rambam states: “one should not extravagantly distribute more than one fifth [of one’s property to charity], because
since this kind of Tzedaka is for redeeming the soul, one "need not fear violating the injunction that “one should not extravagantly distribute more than one fifth [of one’s property to charity],”for this kind of giving cannot be termed “extravagant distribution,” since he does it to redeem his soul etc.." And this is why Rambam is precise in stating to "increase in Tzedaka" and he does not set a limit for this Tzedaka - because for this (type of) Tzedaka there is no limit.
However, it is difficult to explain it so.
Because Rambam mentions the custom "to increase" - “in Tzedaka and in good deeds and to be occupied with Mitzvot" (in one sentence)
And it is not apparent that these are two separate things: increasing in Tzedaka as a part of the act of Tzedaka, and increasing in good deeds and Mitzvot in order to tip the scales of judgment to the side of merit.
And that even in the category of good deeds and dealing in Mitzvot where the intent is to tip the scales to the side of merit there is an emphasis and advantage to increasing in Tzedaka
3. Once can understand this by first understanding the precise wording of Rambam. There, he writes about the custom of increasing in prayer and supplications at night in a separate paragraph
("During these ten days, the custom is for everyone to rise [while it is still] night etc..") -
it should (all) have been said in one paragraph: "to increase in Tzedaka etc.. and to rise at night etc.."
 One could say the explanation is:
 In general, there are two ways in receiving one's needs from G-d. As it states in Talmud on the verse: "Hearken unto Me, ye stout-hearted, who are far from righteousness"(Isa. 26:12)
"The whole world is sustained by [G-d's] charity, and they are sustained by their own force"
1. "The whole world" receives their needs from G-d only in the form of charity and kindness of G-d and not due to their own merits, because, according to their own deeds, they are not worthy
2. Tzaddikim are "sustained by their own force (i.e. by their own good deeds) and they are called far from the charity of G-d because they are sustained in the merit of their good deeds.
In Avodat Hashem, these two manners (in general) fit with the difference between prayer and Torah study and Mitzvot.
The concept of prayer is beseeching and supplication. "A poor man speaks with supplications. (Mishlei 18:23)". This is because Hashem has mercy on him and fulfills his requests even though he is not worthy for it.
And as the Sages state (it is a): "A free gift ("Matnas Chinam").
However, through Torah study and the performance of Mitzvot, a person receives his needs (not from charity, but) by right (al pi din). As it is promised in the Torah: "If you follow My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them etc. I will give your rains in their time etc."
According to this, when G-d judges a person and "weighs man's merits and sins", logic dictates that when he is judged favorably, it is not due to mercy and charity, but rather due to his standing.
One therefore could think, that during the Ten days of repentance, the main emphasis must be on increasing Mitzvot and good deeds in order to lawfully merit ("baDin"). And there should be no place for requesting mercy that it should be "charity" (baTzedaka"), beyond the letter of the law ("lifnim mishurat hadin")
[ And even though we find, in the aspect of Prayer, that "Even though the righteous may base a request on the merit of their good deeds, they request from G-d, only a free gift" - this applies only with regard to prayer and requests, where one does not need to beseech (li'taboa) G-d but rather (just) to request from G-d, in the manner of a free gift (even though we could base (the request) on the merit of their good deeds)
However, when we are discussing "by right" (baDin) where G-d weighs man's merits etc. and judges him according to his deeds, there is no place to mix in requests for mercy and Tzedaka etc.]
Yet Rambam comes to tell us, that in addition to the custom to increase in matters of merit (Tzedaka, and good deeds and Mitzvot), we are also accustomed: "to rise at night . . and pray . . with words of supplication until daybreak."
One could say that, this itself, that lawful merits according to the letter of the law, is (really) "Charity" (Tzedaka) from Above. Because the deeds of Man (creations) are insignificant (ein Tofeis Makom) to G-d.
(as it states: "If you are righteous, what do you give to Him etc..". Job 35:7).
And moreover, even man’s performance of good deeds is due to the power of G-d, as it states: "Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him?" (Job 41:11). Therefore, this itself, that G-d (lowers Himself, as it were, and) judges man and considers his good deeds to lawfully merit the person because of them, is a kindness and charity from G-d, and this requires supplication.
Therefore Rambam splits these two customs into two paragraphs, because they are two different aspects in the actions of Yisroel to merit by right (l'zechus baDin).
1.       The first paragraph is the things that Yisroel do in order to tip the scales (to merit)
2.       The second paragraph - refers to prayer and supplication. For in order that these things themselves, tip the scales to merit, is dependent upon the Mercy of G-d ( as explained above)
[And one could say, that this is also the reason for the change of wording between the two paragraphs -
1.       In The first paragraph it says: "All the community of Yisroel is accustomed"
2.       In The second paragraph it says: "We are all accustomed" which implies that the second aspect, in which we are accustomed to rise etc. is a simple custom for everyone, more than the first aspect.
And according to the aforementioned, it is understood, that the request for mercy is applicable to everyone of Yisroel, even to those that have not increased (so much) in Mitzvot and good deeds (for they were not able to increase and the like etc..)
On the other hand, even those that have increased in Mitzvot and good deeds, more than the rest of the year, are accustomed to increase in request of mercy ("Words of supplication"). For even they need to know and feel that their lawful merits are (in reality) in the realm of G-d's kindness, for which they need bequests and supplications)
And with this one can explain why Rambam takes out "and to increase in Tzedaka" from the group and prefaces it to the other items –
Because with the increase of Tzedaka, man's feelings that he needs the kindness of G-d, is also emphasized. For this is why he increases in Tzedaka, in order that G-d should conduct Himself with him also in a manner of Tzedaka, measure for measure.
In other words, the fact that a person feels that everything that he has merited from Above, is really in the realm of Tzedaka and a free-gift – this must manifest itself not just in his prayers, but also in his deeds - that the intent of them should be to tip the scales of justice to good according to justice. For even in them, one must emphasize that they are within the letter of Supernal law.
4. A deeper explanation between the connection of “Tzedaka” to the judgment of Rosh Hashanah (according to Pnimiyut) is:
The Sages state, regarding the boundary of the essence of the Avodah of Rosh Hashanah, that G-d said: "Recite before Me on Rosh Hashanah [[verses of] Kingship, Remembrance, and Shofar. Kingship — that you may declare Me King over you. Remembrance — that your remembrances may come before Me for good. And with what? With the shofar"
And according to this, it is explained in many places that the main Avodah of Rosh Hashanah is the coronation of G-d as King over Yisroel ("that you may declare Me King over you") and subsequently as King over the entire world.
And this is not a contradiction to the concept that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days of judgment.
For both are inclusive. From G-d’s perspective, the true nature of these days is that we crown him as King, something that primarily relates (as it were) to G-d. And this is like the wording "Recite before Me etc. that you may declare Me King over you". For G-d requests this from Bnei Yisroel, because this is something that concerns him.
And from the perspective of created beings, since G-d, as it were, lowered Himself to sit and judge the entire world, they are days of judgment and law where he weighs the merits of a person and his sins
And accordingly, one could say that, that which we increase in good deeds etc. is because of the second aspect of these days. But from G-d's actual perspective, the way He is above being a king over mortals, there is no place at all for (the concept of) judgment and law over people. For this is specifically when He "sits" on the throne of his "kingship" ad judges the people. And in order to effect this aspect that, G-d should lower Himself to be a King over people - this is through feeling people's complete Bittul (to G-d). So that even when according to the accounting (Cheshbon) of merits and sins of a person, he is righteous and meritorious in judgment (and, of course, he did proper Teshuvah ), yet nevertheless prays with supplication and even more, increases in Tzedaka, in order to merit G-d's righteousness - this brings out (the aspect of) "declare Me King over you"
5. Just as it is emphasized and in the "courtyard of the King" during the Ten days of Repentance, so too it is, in small measure (in "the field") also in the Avodah of the month of Mercy and forgiveness (Chodesh HaRachamim vHaSelichos - the month of Elul, for it also contains these two aspects
On one side, it is a month of Mercy and forgiveness, so much that "there are those who increase in saying Selichot and supplications from Rosh Chodesh Elul onwards" (similar to the words of Rambam on the ten days of Remembrance)
And from the other side it concerns meriting by law (lizchut baDin). And as is stressed on the wording of the Tur "And anyone who increases in requesting mercy - it is a merit for him". For, at first glance, these two are contradictory. For the concept of requesting mercy is that even if one has no merits, he (nevertheless) asks G-d to have mercy on him. But the way to (actually) merit in these days is by feeling that one constantly needs to ask mercy from G-d, that He should give him Tzedaka and free-gifts.
And also on the other hand, even in this that we increase in the Avodah of Teshuvah and good deeds (as has been explained many times that the hint to this is that, in the Rashei Teivos of "Elul" all the three pillars - Torah , Avodah and Gemillat Chassadim, and also the Avodah of Teshuvah and the aspect of Geulah, are alluded to. -
In this itself, there must be a preface to increase in Tzedaka, as is alluded to (as in paragraph 1) to the permutation of the Divine Name (Havaya) of the month of Elul, which comes from the Sofei Teivos “u- tzedakah tihyeh lanu ki"
And through this conduct, each one will merit to be inscribed and sealed in the Book of the completely Righteous, so much so that even before Rosh Hashanah we know that we are meritorious in judgment - for a k'siva vChasimah Tovah l'shana Tova umesuka in revealed and visible good (bTov HaNirah veHaNigleh)
M'Sichas Vov Tishrei 5738



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