The sefirah (channel of Divine energy or lifeforce) of chochmah and its inner power of selflessness is connected to tiferet and its inner power of compassion, as alluded to in the following verse: "What is his name and what is his son's name." In Kabbalah, chochmah always refers to "father" andtiferet to "son." Referring to the statement "He is the first redeemer, he is the last redeemer," we infer from this that Moses is the "father" and Mashiachthe "son." A numerical Torah gem reveals that "Moses" (Moshe, 345) equals the sum of the words "selflessness" (bitul, 47) and "compassion" (rachamim, 298) together (47 plus 298 = 345). From this we learn an important lesson. The one who most deserves, and is best able to exhibit compassion is the one with the greatest sense of bitul.
Self-nullification of the will in relation to G-d and man is manifest on two distinct levels. In relation to G-d, one's own will is nullified in order to do G-d's will, as revealed in the study of Torah and the performance of mitzvot. This idea is best expressed in Pirkei Avot: "Do His will as if it was your will in order that He may do your will as if it was His will." In relation to man, one must be sure that any action initiated for the sake of others comes from sincere intent and not from self-serving interests or hidden agendas.
The sefirah of tiferet and its inspirational motivating force of rachamim is situated in the middle column of the sefirot, from where it balances and integrates the left and right sides. Rachamim can be initiated and expressed in two ways–as prayer and in acts of mercy. The "right side" in Kabbalah represents acts of giving, directed from below to above, whereas the "left side" represents prayer and the arousal of rachamim from above to below. The sage, Rabbi Elazar, taught that one should first act upon the arousal of rachamim and only later pray. Therefore, he would always give charity in the morning before praying, a custom still followed by many today by placing money in a charity box before reciting the Amidah, the silent prayer. TheBa'al Shem Tov made this principle a pillar of the Chassidic movement, ever encouraging his students to actively engage in practical acts of kindness within their communities. This in turn, he taught, would make their prayers for compassion more potent and concrete.
The teaching of Rabbi Elazar has its Biblical support in the order of events which occurred when Jacob met Rachel for the first time. As Jacob neared the home of his mother Rebbeca, where he had been sent to find a wife, he came upon a group of shepherds waiting to water their sheep. They informed him that they must wait till all the shepherds arrive, for only with a joint effort could they roll the heavy stone off the well. At that very moment Rachel arrived with her sheep. Jacob was so inspired upon seeing her that he lifted the stone off the well unassisted and then watered her sheep. Only afterwards did he approach her: "And Jacob kissed Rachel and raised his voice and cried." Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, in his classic work, theTanya, quotes this verse when examining the characteristic of rachamim. He explains that Jacob, upon seeing Rachel for the first time, envisioned all future souls of Israel, which intuitively aroused in him tremendous rachamim. This inspiration was immediately translated into the kind acts of lifting the stone off the well and giving drink to her animals. Only afterwards did he kiss her, raising his voice in prayer and supplication for all the souls of Israel who would be so in need of rachamim in the future. The words for "watering [the sheep]," (vayashk) and "kissing," (vayishak) have the identical letters, only their vowels differ. This is a beautiful allusion to the unity of good deeds and prayer, the integration needed for the full manifestation of Divine and human compassion.