The Rebbe’s Words to Supporters of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, 6th of Tishrei 5716 (September 21, 1955)
We find ourselves in the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashana is the day on which the Jewish people accept G-d’s sovereignty upon themselves, as it says in the Talmud, “Said the Holy One, Blessed be He, on Rosh Hashana say before me [the verses of kingship] in order to accept Me as King over you.” These ten days from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur are known as the Ten Days of Repentance, and during this span of time we ask G-d that He should grant us a good and sweet year. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the day when these requests are confirmed by G-d, and He decrees that the Jewish nation should have an abundance of health and livelihood, and to be held in high esteem by all.
Every individual knows his own actions over the course of the past year. It may very well be that he did the right thing only most of the time, and perhaps there were minutes here and there where he didn’t exactly act in the proper fashion. In fact, he may be frightened to make the calculation and tally up the deeds, good and bad, for who knows how it will all turn out? Therefore he asks G-d for a good year without any reasons or qualifications, that he should be granted a good, sweet year from G-d’s bountiful hand, without a close examination at his deeds of the year that is coming to a close. He doesn’t even want it to depend on his future deeds in the new year, for despite his best intentions, he is only human, with all the frailties of the human condition.
In order to be deserving of G-d’s blessing in this manner, to receive without necessarily being deserving, one must act that way himself, imitatio Dei.
G-d doesn’t owe anyone anything. Whenever we ask something from Him, there is an element of entitlement. There is nothing we can do to really give something to Him, so where do we get the courage, the chutzpah really, to ask from G-d?
In order to be deserving one must act as G-d does, which in this case means to give charity to someone who never benefited him in any way and will never reciprocate, and gives with an open hand and generous heart, without any qualifications or conditions.
Then one can unabashedly face G-d and say, “I am a small and cosmically insignificant man. Nevertheless, I gave from my hard-earned money to charity, money that I could have spent elsewhere to fill my heart’s desires. And I gave it to a strange man who I do not know. I have never seen him, I will never see him, and I will never receive anything from him. I gave it to him gladly and without any strings attached, and without determining if he was worthy. If I can do that, you, G-d, can also do that, and give me and my family a year of goodness in abundance.”
[The Rebbe then turned to one of the participants, who had pledged an amount with certain conditions, and told him to give without any conditions.]
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