Ask the Rabbi - Basic Concepts

The Tanya / the soul

Q: Why is it written in the Baraita that ‘tsedakah (charity) for an ulterior motive’ is still tsedakah ONLY for Israel and NOT for the idol worshippers?


— Questions by: Mattitjahu. Replies by Rabbi Oury Cherki in bold type.

1. The Tanya (end of Chapter 1) refers to Mishlei 14:34 and the explanation from Bava Batra 10b.

There the interpretation of Rabbi Nechunya ben Chananeh is prefered above that of R. Yochanan.

a) Is it not a problem that R. Nechunya added a ‘vav’ before l’umim? No. This is a common phenomenon in Hebrew.

b) Why is it written in the Baraita that ‘tsedakah (charity) for an ulterior motive’ is still tsedakah ONLY for Israel and NOT for the idol worshippers? See Rashi on the Talmud.

c) It seems to me that this opinion is not relevant for a Noahide or ger toshav. Is that true ? This might indeed be true.

2. I don’t understand the Tanya, because it starts with “every Jew has two neshamot’ and then it discusses the first ‘soul’ and calls it a nefesh.

Then it speaks in chapter 2 about the second ‘soul’ (nefesh) and refers to Bereshit 2:7 ‘nishmat chaim’.

a) Are neshamah and nefesh interchangable? Neshama is the talmudic equivalent of the biblical nefesh. See Nefesh HaChaim I, 15.

b) Is it true that the Tania considers ‘ADAM’ to be a Jew? See tosfot Baba Kama 38a quoting Rabeinu Tam that “Adam” means Israel and “ha-adam” refers to the non-Jews.


Rabbi Oury Cherki

Rav Oury Cherki was born in Algeria in 1959 and grew up in France, and he made Aliyah in 1972. He studied at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, which was founded by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. He performed his military service in the artillery branch of the IDF. He studied with Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Rav Yehuda Leon Ashkenazi (Manitou), Rav Shlomo Binyamin and Achlag. Rav Cherki heads the Israeli department of Machon Meir, and he is the Director of Brit Olam - the Noahide World Center. He teaches in many places throughout Israel. Rav Cherki is the spiritual leader of the "Beth Yehuda" community in Kiryat Moshe (Jerusalem). He has written many books on Jewish thought and philosophy.

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