“The sweetness of the upper-worlds is flowing constantly. We just need a container to receive it. And you should know that through Tzedaka we make ourselves receptacles to collect that sweet flow”. (Tinyana 71)
I always thought of Tzedaka (charity) as something extra, but not as something essential. But the word Tzedaka comes from the root-word of Tzedek, which means justice. So giving tzedaka is really what we’re supposed to do. That kindness justifies our existence in this world, as the Talmud says “Tzedaka saves [us] from death”. Meaning to say, generosity gives life and stinginess is the loss of life.
Why is this so?
Everybody wants the sweetness of Heaven. It sounds so delicious and in-fact it enlivens the world we live in. We want to know that there’s meaning to this world and our lives, but the daily grind makes us doubt it. So when we hear about the sweetness of Heaven, something outside of our grasp, it sounds delightful. Rebbe Nachman explains there that Hashem, in a certain sense, made us stuffed up. The benefit is that we feel independent. But the disadvantage is that we’re too full to receive the higher sweetness. The way to let it flow into us is to open our hearts and give of ourselves. This giving makes space for us to receive that heavenly flow.
It’s the great people that give the most. They’re so alive! We know of them as great, like they have so much. But it’s just because they give away as much as they can. They give their time, their money, their patience, their concentration. It’s fascinating that the people who are giving of themselves in immeasurable ways are seen as huge containers of sweetness. It seems that they have so much, yet when we examine what they really have, we see that they’re just bestowing on others. On the other hand, those who don’t give of themselves are exposed. They just seem so finite. So they take by force and they wave themselves in front of us for recognition. They go on and on about how much they have but they’re so defined and they’re just missing that outer-worldly sweetness.
Thank God we’re all givers. But our self-sacrifice is always being tested by those around us. Sometimes it feels like we’re being pulled at on all sides. But lets close our eyes and remember that this giving is the essence of life. It perpetuates growth and well-being. It’s a little scary to put ourselves out there at first, but it’s mamish the sweetest of the sweet.