Dear Rabbi Simon,
I wanted to ask you if it is true that G-d forgives people who commit all kinds of sins and abominations, as long as they carry out acts of kindness, like helping the poor. Some people seem to believe this very strongly. But it seems to me that if G-d forgives them, the world would be full of chaos. So, Rabbi, is it true that helping the poor erases one’s sins and frees him or her from G-d‘s judgement?
Thank you for your question.
Mitzvot (fulfilment of commandments or meritorious deeds, such as helping the poor) are to be encouraged, but they do not excuse, extinguish or offset transgressions. Yes, charity can be a component of rectifying one’s ways and repenting for sin. But an act of charity which has the effect of facilitating “all kind of sins and abominations”, is self-serving and unworthy. Of course, helping the poor is essential, in its own right, but the way to expiate sin is through repentance, or teshuvah in Hebrew. Anything else falls short.
So in brief, dishonourable behaviour must be rectified through teshuvah. Charity per se is no substitute.
Rabbi Rashi Simon