צדקה וחסד – In What Way is it the Greatest Mitzvah?

The Ari Hakadosh writes בך חותמין that with the special Middah of Avraham Avinu – which is Tzedakah and Chesed- we will be redeemed from Galus.

This Torah is difficult to understand for the following reason.

The Rambam writes in Hil. Teshuvah Perek 3, Halachah 2, that only Hashem can measure the greatness of a Mitzvah, or the opposite, the negativity of an Aveirah. The holiness and greatness of a Mitzvah is not measured by its quantity but by the devotion of the doer, how it’s done, and the challenges the doer had to overcome, and so on.

The Rambam is discussing the aspect of the level of Zechusim a Mitzvah brings, but still there are Mitzvos that are higher than others.

Torah is the greatest of all Mitzvos as we say in Birchas Hatorah, ותלמוד תורה כנגד כולם. The basis of the world is standing on Torah. Through the Torah the world has the connection to Hashem, so it is able to exist.

If so, why does the Ari Hakadosh say that Tzedakah and Chesed are greater than Torah and will bring the Geulah?

The Seforim Hakdoshim answer that the further away the generations are from Har Sinai, it’s more difficult to do Torah and Mitzvos Lishmah – for the sake of Hashem. Tzedakah and Chesed, because it involves another person, the effect of not doing Lishmah is less, because whatever the intentions of the giver were, the taker still received the Tzedakah and Chesed.

True, Torah is the greatest Mitzvah and as long as we strive to do it Lishmah it is for sure greater than anything else. Still, Tzedakah and Chesed have an unbelievable power that even from a very low level it can have a huge impact. As explained above from the Rambam, the dedication of the doer is a large part of the measurement of the Mitzvos. It’s easier to have a full heart when doing Tzedakah and Chesed, especially in our generation.