the love (of G‑d)…no other love has any worth…
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 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 the following are acts of kindness:
1) At the moment of a child's birth, one should provide him with all the necessities of his sustenance. Thus, he should have in mind the birth of tiferet from bina. For if "her labor is difficult" (Gen. 35:17) because of the aspect of judgment, G‑d forbid, tiferet will tend toward the aspect of gevura, and its birth will be difficult. Therefore, it is necessary to ease the birth as much as possible so that tiferet will emerge on the right, and the child will be born without blemish. As we pray, "And bring forth the radiance of our judgment, O Awesome, Holy One." That is to say, we pray that the judgment of tiferet will be on the side of light, which is to the right, and will thus be sanctified and separated from the severities. This includes one's intention that his deeds constantly bind tiferet to chesed, bringing tiferet forth from bina to the side of chesed. Then the child born will be eager to fulfill the commandments, and he will be cleansed of imperfections. Almost all the prohibitions in the Torah are included in this idea that the severities should not awaken overpowering harshness there, making the birth difficult, G‑d forbid. Pinchas…did kindness to his Creator…by removing the foreskin from yesod…
2) Circumcising the child, i.e., fulfilling the commandments perfectly, circumcising every aspect of "husk" or "foreskin" that attaches itself to yesod. One should pursue all those who cause the foreskin to grow on yesod, bringing them back in repentance in such a way that, by circumcising the foreskins of their hearts, he renders the Supernal Tzadik "without a foreskin". He must maintain a firm stance in rectifying all those things that bring about the foreskin there. For this reason, by circumcising the foreskin of the Jewish people, Pinchas became worthy of the priesthood, for he did kindness to his Creator according to the mystical explanation of circumcision - by removing the foreskin from yesod, he became worthy of the quality of chesed. From this, one can learn all the other qualities of chesed.
3) Visiting the sick and healing them. As is known, the Shechina is lovesick for unification. As the verse states, "…for I am sick with love" (Songs 2:5). Her cure is in the hands of man, who is able to bring her pleasant remedies. As it is written, "Sustain me with dainty cakes, [in Hebrew, 'ashishot'], spread apples before me…"(ibid.). The Tikunim expounds upon this verse according to the mystical explanation of the word - "ashishot" - which implies everything bound to the attribute of malchut - the word being composed of "ish"[meaning man], and "isha" [meaning woman], representing gevura, which are the "two arms" supporting malchut. Thus, a person who visits the sick sustains them in their illness.
Alternatively, "spread apples before me" means binding malchut between netzach and hod, for this is the proper place of malchut, being that she is red and white, like those apples whose colors are blended from the side of chesed. Thus, one must visit her, keep her in mind, and entreat her to accept food and drink from the flow of supernal benevolence from which she abstains, because she is sick with the sins of Israel. Just as one behaves toward ill people, so must he behave toward the 'ill' of the higher worlds…
Just as one behaves toward ill people, so must he behave toward the "ill" of the higher worlds. For she [malchut] is "ill", as we have just mentioned, and he [tiferet] is also "ill", for he is restless in the World to Come and isolated from her in this world. As it is written, "Like a bird who wanders far from her nest [the 'bird' refers to the Shechina], so is a man who wanders from his place" (Proverbs 27:8). He waits for her and swears that he will not return to his place until returning her to her place. Thus, he, too, is "ill because of our transgressions, crushed [willingly] because of our sins" (Isaiah 53:5). The healing of both lies in our hands. Therefore, it is proper to visit them and attend to their needs by studying Torah and carrying out the precepts.
4) Giving charity to the poor. The parallel above refers to yesod and malchut. The Tikunim explains that the charity [in Hebrew, tzedaka, spelled tzadi, dalet, kuf, hei] befitting them is to say "amen" ninety [tzadi] times during the daily prayers, recite Kedusha four [dalet] times daily, utter one hundred [kuf] blessings daily, and learn from the five [hei] books of the Torah daily.
In addition, every person should draw down "charity" from tiferet for these "poor ones" - each according to his ability - providing them with gleanings from all the sefirot; forgotten sheaves, according to the mystical explanation of the supernal "sheaf", which is bina; and field corners, which derives from malchut itself, being that it is the "corner of the field" in relation to the other sefirot. It is written, "you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger" (Lev. 19:10, 23:22), for even tiferet is a stranger to malchut below, so one must perform these precepts, which rectify tiferet. Similarly, the tithe to the poor raises up malchut [called " the tithe"], which is given to yesod, which is called "poor". And if one binds malchut to tiferet, he gives the tithe to "the stranger". Many rectifications are included in this.
5) Offering hospitality to strangers. This refers to tiferet and yesod, which should be given a guest house in which to rest, namely, in malchut. For according to the mystical explanation of exile, they are wayfarers searching for what they have lost; therefore, they must be brought into that place. According to the explanation in the Zohar, this refers to the commandment fulfilled by "those who traveled talked" (Judges 5:10), that is, those who are exiled from home in order to study Torah. They cause "the guests" to busy themselves with the needs of malchut.
Similarly, all those who bring about the unification of tiferet and malchut some other way, and fix times for Torah study, cause tiferet to lodge with malchut, as explained in the Tikunim. It is necessary to prepare food and drink for the "guests" and accompany them on their way - that is, a person must bring tiferet and yesod into malchut and provide them with food there.
This is analogous to the mystical explanation of the verse "I came to My garden... I have eaten My honeycomb with My honey…" (Songs 5:1), referring to the outflow of spiritual bounty suited to the level of divine rulership of the lower worlds as it spreads forth from sweetened severities. One must also provide them with drink, according to the mystical interpretation of the continuation of the verse, "I have drunk My wine with My milk." This verse refers to the inner spiritual flow from the guarded wine and the sweetened milk, as explained in the mystical teachings; to bind tiferet to malchut, Jacob to Rachel, and gevura to netzach or hod. This is the explanation given in "Ra'aya Mehemna." ...make an effort to do whatever is necessary for the performance of the mundane act, simultaneously concentrating on the things to which it alludes…
As for the precept of "accompanying them [the guests]", this means that a person and his soul should go there together with tiferet and yesod in their supernal form, accompanying them there. In addition, this implies bringing the other sefirot there to be with them, giving them a good send-off. Many things are included in this rectification. In general, a person should make an effort to do whatever is necessary for the performance of the mundane act, simultaneously concentrating on the things to which it alludes. This way, he is sure to achieve its parallel Above, once he has become accomplished in the mystical secrets. It is even better to verbalize the secrets on which he concentrates when performing the precept, thereby fulfilling the verse "…in your mouth and in your heart to do it" (Deut. 30:14).
6) Attending to the dead. How this relates to the higher worlds is very difficult to explain, for this is the secret of the sefirot, which conceal themselves and disappear into their sheaths Above. How necessary it is to correct and cleanse them of all disease of sin and to enclothe them in white - which is the purification of the sefirot in the crucible of good deeds - elevating them in the mystical secret of Unity, binding them Above. And carrying them on one's shoulders is the secret of the elevation of the sefirot, one by one, until they ascend beyond the level of the "shoulder", which connects arm and torso. Above this level is the hidden secret, which is incomprehensible.
During burial, one should concentrate on the mystical secret of the verse "[G‑d] buried [Moses] in the valley…" (ibid. 34:6), [in the valley] being rendered in the Tikunim as "with the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy", which are rooted in keter, in those aspects that face downwards to have mercy on the beings of the lower worlds. From there, he who is buried ascends to the upper level of Eden, which is the chochma of keter. Understanding this concept requires much methodical deliberation.
7) Bringing a bride to the bridal canopy. This includes all the necessities of Unification, for all prayers and spiritual unifications are contained in the mystical explanation of bringing a bride to the bridal canopy. The essence of Unification lies in the secret of Prayer, which includes several levels, each higher than the next: those sections dealing with the sacrifices; then the verses of praise; then the prayers recited while sitting, including the Shema Prayer and the blessings beforehand and afterwards; then the Standing Prayer and the remainder of the liturgy. All these are acts of benevolence to the groom and bride, attending to their needs and the requirements of their union.
8) Making peace between a man and his fellow. This refers to tiferet and yesod, which sometimes become separated from one another. A person must make peace between them and restore them to equal stature, so that they will be bound together in love and friendship. This is brought about through the power of good deeds. For when yesod leans to the left and tiferet to the Right, they stand in opposition to one another until yesod is adjusted to lean to the Right, like tiferet. And if, G‑d forbid, there is any blemish of sin in the world, then there is hatred and controversy between the two of them, with no unity or bond between the sefirot at all.
Similarly, the same thing might occur between any two sefirot, one of which is on the Right and the other on the Left - between chochma and bina, chesed and gevura, or netzach and hod. Then one must make peace between them. This means making peace between a man and his fellow. The same explanation applies regarding making peace between a man and his wife - that is, between tiferet and malchut. All similar ways of making peace are also acts of benevolence in the higher worlds.
[Translation and commentary by Moshe Miller]