U’Teshuva U’Tefilla U’Tzedaka Maavirin Es Ro’a Hagezeira.
And returning and prayer and Charity remove the Evil Decree.
How does Tzedaka do that?
Tzedaka is the expression of the idea that our task in life is to be Other-directed.
That’s what bugs me about a number of speakers, including some frum ones, who make Judaism sound like one mega-exercise in self-improvement, making yourself better, giving yourself more reward etc. It’s just Randian Rational Self-Interest applied to the spirit.
Now of course, there is no question that learning Torah and performing Mitzvos does improve a person. But the focus should be on helping outward.
This of course has always been part of the original intent; as God didn’t do anything truly for Himself, as He is Perfect by defintion. Even when the Navi says that He created it, formed it, and made it for His Honor, it’s all about the creating and giving to others.