"Deeds of Kindness

with Added Mystical Intentions"

Part 1: "Preface"

translated and edited from

Tomer (the Palm Tree of) Devorah

of Rabbi Moshe Cordevero (the 'Ramak')

by Rabbi Moshe Miller


How should a person train himself in the attribute of chesed (kindness)? The main way to enter into the secret of chesed is to love G-d so absolutely that one will never forsake His service for any reason; for, compared with the love of G-d, blessed be He, no other love has any worth. Therefore, he should first attend to the requirements of his divine service; then, the remainder of his time may be used for other needs.

This love should be fixed firmly in his heart, whether he receives good from the Holy One, Blessed Be He, or suffering and chastisement -- both should be considered expressions of G-d's love for him. As the verse states, "Faithful are the wounds inflicted by a loving friend..." (Proverbs 27:6). Furthermore, it is written,"...and with all your might" (Deut. 6:5), which our sages interpret as meaning, "With whatever measure He metes out to you" (Berachot 9:5), thereby including all attributes in the attribute of chesed. Thus, although the secret of divine conduct, which stems from the attribute of malchut (sovereignty), may be expressed as severity, it is connected to chesed.

Such was the habit of Nachum Ish Gamzu, who would always say, "This, too, is for the good!" He always sought to connect everything to the side of chesed, which is called "good", so he would say that even what appeared to be on the left, bound to the side of gevura (severity), was in reality only for good, bound to chesed. This way, he would concentrate on the goodness of the attribute of malchut, concealing its severity. This is a great method of constantly binding oneself to chesed.

" When a person does kindness in this world, he should intend to reinstate its parallel supernal quality..."

The Tikunim states: "Who is a pious, kindhearted person? One who does kindness (chesed) to his Creator!" This is because when a person does kindness in this world, he should intend to reinstate its parallel supernal quality - this is called "doing kindness to his Creator".

Therefore, it is necessary to know the types of deeds practiced among men, all of which a person must fulfill towards his Creator if he wants to acquire the attribute of chesed. For this reason, it is stated that he following are acts of kindness:

  1. Caring for a newborn
  2. Circumcision
  3. Visiting the sick
  4. Giving charity
  5. Hosting Strangers
  6. Attending to the dead
  7. Providing for a bride
  8. Peace-making


Next installment


Rabbi Moshe-Leib Miller, a guest teacher at Ascent when he lived in Israel, was born in South Africa and received his yeshiva education in Israel and America. He is a prolific author and translator, with some twenty books to his name on a wide variety of topics, including a new, authoritative, annotated translation of the Zohar. He currently lives in Chicago.


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