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ב"ה

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Matnot Aniyim - Chapter 8, Matnot Aniyim - Chapter 9, Matnot Aniyim - Chapter 10

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Matnot Aniyim - Chapter 8

1

Charity is considered as a vow. Therefore one who says: "I pledge to give a sela to charity"1 or "[I will give] this sela to charity,"2 he is obligated to give it [to charity] immediately.3 If he delays, he transgresses the commandment against delaying [the observance of one's vow],4 for he has the capacity to make the gift immediately and [generally,] there are poor people at hand.

If there are no poor people at hand, he should set aside [the donation] and put it away until he finds poor people.5 If he made a stipulation that he is not obligated to make the donation until he finds poor people, he does not have to separate it [until the poor are at hand]. Similarly, if he made a stipulation at the time he made his vow to charity or pledged his donation that the trustees of the charitable fund could exchange it for gold, they are permitted to do so.6

א

הַצְדָקָה הֲרֵי הִיא בִּכְלַל הַנְּדָרִים. לְפִיכָךְ הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי עָלַי סֶלַע לִצְדָקָה אוֹ הֲרֵי סֶלַע זוֹ צְדָקָה חַיָּב לִתְּנָהּ לָעֲנִיִּים מִיָּד וְאִם אִחֵר עָבַר בְּ (דברים כג כב) "בַל תְּאַחֵר" שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּיָדוֹ לִתֵּן מִיָּד וַעֲנִיִּים מְצוּיִין הֵן. אֵין שָׁם עֲנִיִּים מַפְרִישׁ וּמַנִּיחַ עַד שֶׁיִּמְצָא עֲנִיִּים. וְאִם הִתְנָה שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן עַד שֶׁיִּמְצָא עָנִי אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְהַפְרִישׁ. וְכֵן אִם הִתְנָה בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנָּדַר בִּצְדָקָה אוֹ הִתְנַדֵּב אוֹתוֹ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ הַגַּבָּאִין רַשָּׁאִין לְשַׁנּוֹתָהּ וּלְצָרְפָהּ בְּזָהָב הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מֻתָּרִין:

2

When a person extends a vow made to charity, he is obligated as is the case with regard to other vows.7

What is implied? If he said: "This sela is like this one [given to charity], it is also charity. When a person sets aside a sela and says: "This is charity" and then takes another sela and says: "And this," the second is also charity even though he did not say so explicitly.8

ב

הַמַּתְפִּיס בִּצְדָקָה חַיָּב כִּשְׁאָר הַנְּדָרִים. כֵּיצַד. אָמַר הֲרֵי סֶלַע זוֹ כְּזוֹ הֲרֵי זוֹ צְדָקָה. הַמַּפְרִישׁ סֶלַע וְאָמַר הֲרֵי זוֹ צְדָקָה וְלָקַח סֶלַע שְׁנִיָּה וְאָמַר וְזוֹ הֲרֵי שְׁנִיָּה צְדָקָה. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא פֵּרֵשׁ:

3

When a person takes a vow [to give charity], but does not remember how much he vowed to give, he should give until he says: "I did not intend [to give] this [much]."9

ג

הַנּוֹדֵר צְדָקָה וְלֹא יָדַע כַּמָּה נָדַר יִתֵּן עַד שֶׁיֹּאמַר לֹא לְכָךְ נִתְכַּוַּנְתִּי:

4

[The following rules apply] both to a person who says: "This sela is charity" and one who says: "I pledge a sela for charity" and sets it aside. If he desires to exchange it with another [coin], he is permitted to do so.10 Once it reaches the hand of the treasurer of the charity, it is forbidden to be exchanged. If the treasurer of the charity desires to exchange the common currency for dinarim,11 they are not permitted to do so.12 If there are no poor among whom to distribute the funds, they should have others exchange the coins,13 but they should not do so themselves.

ד

אֶחָד הָאוֹמֵר סֶלַע זוֹ צְדָקָה אוֹ הָאוֹמֵר הֲרֵי עָלַי סֶלַע לִצְדָקָה וְהִפְרִישׁוֹ. אִם רָצָה לְשַׁנּוֹתוֹ בְּאַחֵר מֻתָּר. וְאִם מִשֶּׁהִגִּיעַ לְיַד הַגַּבַּאי אָסוּר לְשַׁנּוֹתוֹ. וְאִם רָצוּ הַגַּבָּאִים לְצָרֵף הַמָּעוֹת וְלַעֲשׂוֹתָן דִּינָרִין אֵינָן רַשָּׁאִין אֶלָּא אִם אֵין שָׁם עֲנִיִּים לְחַלֵּק מְצָרְפִין לַאֲחֵרִים. אֲבָל לֹא לְעַצְמָן:

5

If the poor would benefit from the delay of the money in the possession of the charity collector so that he could motivate others to give,14 that charity collector may borrow the money and pay [when the funds are required]. For charity does not resemble funds dedicated to the Temple treasury from which it is forbidden to benefit.

ה

הָיָה לַעֲנִיִּים הֲנָאָה בְּעִכּוּב הַמָּעוֹת בְּיַד הַגַּבַּאי כְּדֵי לַעֲשׂוֹת לַאֲחֵרִים לִתֵּן. הֲרֵי אוֹתוֹ הַגַּבַּאי מֻתָּר לִלְווֹת אוֹתָם הַמָּעוֹת שֶׁל עֲנִיִּים וּפוֹרֵעַ. שֶׁהַצְּדָקָה אֵינָהּ כְּהֶקְדֵּשׁ שֶׁאָסוּר לֵהָנוֹת בּוֹ:

6

When a person donates a candelabra or a lamp to a synagogue, it is forbidden to exchange it.15 If it is for a sacramental purpose, it is permitted to exchange it, even though the name of the donor is still associated with it, e.g., it is said: "This is so-and-so's candelabra" or "...so-and-so's lamp."16 If the name of the donor is no longer associated with it, it may be exchanged17 even for matters that are not sacramental in nature.

ו

מִי שֶׁהִתְנַדֵּב מְנוֹרָה אוֹ נֵר לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אָסוּר לְשַׁנּוֹתָהּ. וְאִם לִדְבַר מִצְוָה מֻתָּר לְשַׁנּוֹתָהּ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁתַּקַּע שֵׁם בְּעָלֶיהָ מֵעָלֶיהָ. אֶלָּא אוֹמְרִים זוֹ הַמְּנוֹרָה אוֹ נֵר שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי. וְאִם נִשְׁתַּקַּע שֵׁם הַבְּעָלִים מֵעָלֶיהָ מֻתָּר לְשַׁנּוֹתָהּ אֲפִלּוּ לִדְבַר הָרְשׁוּת:

7

When does the above apply? When the donor was Jewish. If, however, he was a gentile, it is forbidden to exchange it even for matters that are sacramental in nature as long as the name of the donor is still associated with it.18 [We fear that] the gentile might say: "I consecrated an article to the Jews' synagogue and they sold it for their own purposes."19

ז

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיָה הַמִּתְנַדֵּב יִשְׂרָאֵל. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה עַכּוּ''ם אָסוּר לְשַׁנּוֹתָהּ אֲפִלּוּ לִדְבַר מִצְוָה עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁתַּקֵּעַ שֵׁם בְּעָלֶיהָ מֵעָלֶיהָ. שֶׁמָּא יֹאמַר הָעַכּוּ''ם הִקְדַּשְׁתִּי דָּבָר לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת שֶׁל יְהוּדִים וּמְכָרוּהוּ לְעַצְמָן:

8

When a gentile seeks to make a donation to the Temple treasury, initially, we do not accept it. If, however, it was taken from him, we do not return it to him. If it was a specific article, e.g., a beam or a stone, we return it to him so that there will not be a specific entity in the Temple associated with [a gentile], as [Ezra 4:3] states: "It is not for you,20 together with us to build a Temple for our God."21 For a synagogue, by contrast, we may accept their [donations, even] initially, provided they say: "I am donating it according to the intent of the Jewish people." If he does not say so, it must be entombed, for perhaps his intent was to consecrate it unto God.22 We do not receive donations23 from them for the walls of Jerusalem or an aqueduct in [that city], as [Nechemiah 2:20] states: "And you do not have a portion or a remembrance in Jerusalem."24

ח

עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהִתְנַדֵּב לְבֶדֶק הַבַּיִת אֵין מְקַבְּלִין מִמֶּנּוּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה. וְאִם לָקְחוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אֵין מַחְזִירִין לוֹ. הָיָה הַדָּבָר מְסֻיָּם כְּגוֹן קוֹרָה אוֹ אֶבֶן מַחְזִירִין לוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא לָהֶן דָּבָר מְסֻיָּם בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (עזרא ד ג) "לֹא לָכֶם וָלָנוּ" וְגוֹ'. אֲבָל לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת מְקַבְּלִין מֵהֶן לְכַתְּחִלָּה. וְהוּא שֶׁיֹּאמַר כְּדַעַת יִשְׂרָאֵל הִפְרַשְׁתִּי. וְאִם לֹא אָמַר טָעוּן גְּנִיזָה שֶׁמָּא לִבּוֹ לַשָּׁמַיִם. וְאֵין מְקַבְּלִים מֵהֶם לְחוֹמַת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם וְלֹא לְאַמַּת הַמַּיִם שֶׁבָּהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (נחמיה ב כ) "וְלָכֶם אֵין חֵלֶק וְזִכָּרוֹן בִּירוּשָׁלָיִם":

9

It is forbidden for a Jew to receive charity from a gentile25 in public.26 If he is unable to subsist on the charity given by the Jews and it is impossible to receive charity from the gentiles in private, it is permitted.

When a gentile king or official sends money to the Jews for charity, we do not return it to him so as [not to jeopardize] peaceful relations with the king.27 Instead, we take [the charity] from him and give it to the gentile poor in secret28 so that the king will not hear.29

ט

אָסוּר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לִטּל צְדָקָה מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא. וְאִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִחְיוֹת בִּצְדָקָה שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִטְּלָהּ מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם בְּצִנְעָה הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר. וּמֶלֶךְ אוֹ שַׂר מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁשָּׁלַח מָמוֹן לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לִצְדָקָה אֵין מַחְזִירִין אוֹתוֹ לוֹ מִשּׁוּם שְׁלוֹם מַלְכוּת. אֶלָּא נוֹטְלִין מִמֶּנּוּ וְיִנָּתֵן לַעֲנִיֵּי עַכּוּ''ם בַּסֵּתֶר כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִשְׁמַע הַמֶּלֶךְ:

10

The redemption of captives receives priority over sustaining the poor and providing them with clothing. [Indeed,] there is no greater mitzvah than the redemption of captives.30 For a captive is among those who are hungry, thirsty, and unclothed and he is in mortal peril.31 If someone pays no attention to his redemption, he violates the negative commandments: "Do not harden your heart or close your hand" (Deuteronomy 15:7), "Do not stand by when the blood of your neighbor is in danger" (Leviticus 19:16), and "He shall not oppress him with exhausting work in your presence" (ibid. 25:53). And he has negated the observance of the positive commandments: "You shall certainly open up your hand to him" (Deuteronomy 15:8), "And your brother shall live with you" (ibid. 19:18), "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), "Save those who are taken for death" (Proverbs 24:11), and many other decrees of this nature. There is no mitzvah as great as the redemption of captives.

י

פִּדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִים קוֹדֵם לְפַרְנָסַת עֲנִיִּים וְלִכְסוּתָן. וְאֵין לְךָ מִצְוָה גְּדוֹלָה כְּפִדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִים שֶׁהַשָּׁבוּי הֲרֵי הוּא בִּכְלַל הָרְעֵבִים וְהַצְּמֵאִים וַעֲרוּמִּים וְעוֹמֵד בְּסַכָּנַת נְפָשׁוֹת. וְהַמַּעֲלִים עֵינָיו מִפִּדְיוֹנוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹבֵר עַל (דברים טו ז) "לֹא תְאַמֵּץ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְלֹא תִקְפֹּץ אֶת יָדְךָ" וְעַל (ויקרא יט טז) "לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל דַּם רֵעֶךָ" וְעַל (ויקרא כה נג) "לֹא יִרְדֶּנּוּ בְּפֶרֶךְ לְעֵינֶיךָ". וּבִטֵּל מִצְוַת (דברים טו ח) (דברים טו יא) "פָתֹחַ תִּפְתַּח אֶת יָדְךָ לוֹ". וּמִצְוַת (ויקרא כה לו) "וְחֵי אָחִיךָ עִמָּךְ". (ויקרא יט יח) "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ". (משלי כד יא) "וְהַצֵּל לְקֻחִים לַמָּוֶת" וְהַרְבֵּה דְּבָרִים כָּאֵלּוּ. וְאֵין לְךָ מִצְוָה רַבָּה כְּפִדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִים:

11

When the inhabitants of a city collected money for building a synagogue and a purpose associated with a mitzvah arose, they may use the money for that purpose. If they purchased stones and beams, they should not sell them [and use the proceeds] for a purpose associated with a mitzvah other than the redemption of captives.32 Even though they brought the stones [to the building site], cut the beams and shaped them to size, and prepared everything for building, it should all be sold, [but] only for the sake of redeeming captives. If they built [the synagogue] and completed it,33 it should not be sold. Instead, the funds necessary to redeem the captives should be raised from the community.34

יא

אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר שֶׁגָּבוּ מָעוֹת לְבִנְיַן בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת וּבָא לָהֶן דְּבַר מִצְוָה מוֹצִיאִין בּוֹ הַמָּעוֹת. קָנוּ אֲבָנִים וְקוֹרוֹת לֹא יִמְכְּרוּם לִדְבַר מִצְוָה אֶלָּא לְפִדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִים. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵבִיאוּ אֶת הָאֲבָנִים וּגְדָרוּם וְאֶת הַקּוֹרוֹת וּפְסָלוּם וְהִתְקִינוּ הַכּל לַבִּנְיָן מוֹכְרִין הַכּל לְפִדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִים בִּלְבַד. אֲבָל אִם בָּנוּ וְגָמְרוּ לֹא יִמְכְּרוּ אֶת בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת אֶלָּא יִגְבּוּ לְפִדְיוֹנָן מִן הַצִּבּוּר:

12

We do not redeem captives for more than their worth35 for the benefit of the world at large, i.e., so that enemies will not pursue people to hold them captive.36 We do not assist captives in escaping, for the benefit of the world at large, i.e., so that enemies will not oppress captives seriously and be very strict when guarding them.37

יב

אֵין פּוֹדִין אֶת הַשְּׁבוּיִים בְּיֶתֶר עַל דְּמֵיהֶן מִפְּנֵי תִּקּוּן הָעוֹלָם. שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ הָאוֹיְבִים רוֹדְפִין אַחֲרֵיהֶם לִשְׁבּוֹתָם. וְאֵין מַבְרִיחִין אֶת הַשְּׁבוּיִים מִפְּנֵי תִּקּוּן הָעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ הָאוֹיְבִים מַכְבִּידִין עֲלֵיהֶן אֶת הָעל וּמַרְבִּים בִּשְׁמִירָתָן:

13

When a person sold himself and his children [as servants] to gentiles or borrowed money from them and they held him captive or imprisoned him [because of his failure to pay] the loan, it is a mitzvah to redeem him the first or second time [he is held]. [If this happens] a third time, we do not redeem him.38 We do, however, redeem the sons after their father's passing.39 If they sought to kill him, we redeem him from their hands even if he [has been held captive] several times.40

יג

מִי שֶׁמָּכַר עַצְמוֹ וּבָנָיו לְעַכּוּ''ם אוֹ שֶׁלָּוָה מֵהֶן וְשָׁבוּ אוֹתָן אוֹ אֲסָרוּהוּ בְּהַלְוָאָתָן. פַּעַם רִאשׁוֹנָה וּשְׁנִיָּה מִצְוָה לִפְדּוֹתָן. שְׁלִישִׁית אֵין פּוֹדִין אוֹתָן. אֲבָל פּוֹדִין אֶת הַבָּנִים לְאַחַר מִיתַת אֲבִיהֶן. וְאִם בִּקְּשׁוּהוּ לְהָרְגוֹ פּוֹדִין אוֹתוֹ מִיָּדָם אֲפִלּוּ אַחַר כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים:

14

When a servant is held captive, since he immersed himself [in the mikveh] and accepted the mitzvot,41 he should be redeemed like a Jew who has been taken captive. When a captive abandons his faith even with regard to only one mitzvah, e.g., he eats meat from animals that were not ritually slaughtered with the intent of angering God42 or the like, it is forbidden to redeem him.

יד

עֶבֶד שֶׁנִּשְׁבָּה הוֹאִיל וְטָבַל לְשֵׁם עַבְדוּת וְקִבֵּל עָלָיו מִצְוֹת פּוֹדִין אוֹתוֹ כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנִּשְׁבָּה. וְשָׁבוּי שֶׁהֵמִיר לְעַכּוּ''ם וַאֲפִלּוּ לְמִצְוָה אַחַת כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיָה אוֹכֵל נְבֵלָה לְהַכְעִיס וְכַיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ אָסוּר לִפְדּוֹתוֹ:

15

A woman receives precedence over a man with regard to being given sustenance, clothing, and to be redeemed from captivity.43 [The rationale is that] it is common for a man to beg, but not for a woman and this is extremely embarrassing for her. If they were both held in captivity and they were both solicited for a transgression,44 the man should be redeemed first, because this is not ordinary for him.45

טו

הָאִשָּׁה קוֹדֶמֶת לְאִישׁ לְהַאֲכִיל וְלִכְסוּת וּלְהוֹצִיא מִבֵּית הַשֶּׁבִי. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָאִישׁ דַּרְכּוֹ לְחַזֵּר לֹא הָאִשָּׁה וּבָשְׁתָּהּ מְרֻבָּה. וְאִם הָיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם בַּשִּׁבְיָה וְנִתְבְּעוּ שְׁנֵיהֶן לִדְבַר עֲבֵרָה הָאִישׁ קוֹדֵם לִפְדּוֹת לְפִי שֶׁאֵין דַּרְכּוֹ לְכָךְ:

16

When a male and female orphan come seeking assistance in marriage, we assist the woman before the man, because the woman's shame is greater. She should not be given less than the weight of six and a quarter dinarim of pure silver.46 If the treasury of the charitable fund has the means, we give the money according to her honor.

טז

יָתוֹם וִיתוֹמָה שֶׁבָּאוּ לְהַשִּׂיא אוֹתָן מַשִּׂיאִין הָאִשָּׁה קֹדֶם לָאִישׁ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁבָּשְׁתָּהּ שֶׁל אִשָּׁה מְרֻבָּה. וְלֹא יִפְחֲתוּ לָהּ מִמִּשְׁקַל שִׁשָּׁה דִּינָרִים וּרְבִיעַ דִּינָר שֶׁל כֶּסֶף טָהוֹר. וְאִם יֵשׁ בְּכִיס שֶׁל צְדָקָה נוֹתְנִין לָהּ לְפִי כְּבוֹדָהּ:

17

If there were many poor people or many captives and one does not have the means to provide sustenance or clothing for all of them or to redeem all of them, a priest is given precedence over a Levite.47 A Levite is given precedence over an Israelite. An Israelite is given precedence over a challal,48 a challal over a shituki,49 a shituki over an asufi,50 an asufi over a mamzer,51 a mamzer over a netin,52 and a netin over a convert. [The rationale for the latter is that] a netin grew up with us in holiness.53 A convert is granted precedence over a freed servant, for [the latter] was originally among those who were "cursed."54

יז

הָיוּ לְפָנֵינוּ עֲנִיִּים הַרְבֵּה אוֹ שְׁבוּיִים הַרְבֵּה וְאֵין בַּכִּיס כְּדֵי לְפַרְנֵס אוֹ כְּדֵי לְכַסּוֹת אוֹ כְּדֵי לִפְדּוֹת אֶת כֻּלָּן. מַקְדִּימִין אֶת הַכֹּהֵן לַלֵּוִי. וְלֵוִי לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. וְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְחָלָל. וְחָלָל לִשְׁתוּקִי. וּשְׁתוּקִי לַאֲסוּפִי. וַאֲסוּפִי לְמַמְזֵר. וּמַמְזֵר לְנָתִין. וְנָתִין לְגֵר. שֶׁהַנָּתִין גָּדַל עִמָּנוּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁה. וְגֵר קוֹדֵם לְעֶבֶד מְשֻׁחְרָר. לְפִי שֶׁהָיָה בִּכְלַל אָרוּר:

18

When does the above apply? When the two [captives] were equal in knowledge. If, however, a High Priest55 was unlearned and a mamzer was a Torah scholar, the Torah scholar receives precedence.56 Whoever surpasses his colleague in knowledge receives precedence over his colleague.

If, however, one [of the poor or the captives] is one's teacher or father,57 His father or teacher who is a Torah scholar58 receives precedence over another who surpasses him in wisdom.

יח

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהָיוּ שְׁנֵיהֶן שָׁוִין בְּחָכְמָה. אֲבָל אִם הָיָה כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל עַם הָאָרֶץ וּמַמְזֵר תַּלְמִיד חָכָם. תַּלְמִיד חָכָם קוֹדֵם. וְכָל הַגָּדוֹל בְּחָכְמָה קוֹדֵם אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ. וְאִם הָיָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן רַבּוֹ אוֹ אָבִיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם גָּדוֹל מֵהֶן בְּחָכְמָה. רַבּוֹ אוֹ אָבִיו שֶׁהוּא תַּלְמִיד חָכָם קוֹדֵם לָזֶה שֶׁהוּא גָּדוֹל מֵהֶם בְּחָכְמָה:

Footnotes
1.

I.e., he accepts the obligation upon himself. This is referred to as a vow (Hilchot Nedarim 1:2).

2.

Designating the coin for that purpose. This is referred to as a donation (ibid.).

3.

For one is obligated to fulfill his pledges at the earliest possible date.

4.

Deuteronomy 23:22 commands: "Do not delay in paying it" and Hilchot Ma'aseh HaKorbanot 14:13 considers the prohibition against delaying payment of one's vows as one of the 613 commandments.

5.

He does not, however, have to seek out poor people to give it to them (Siftei Cohen 257:5).

6.

Compare to Halachah 4.

7.

See Hilchot Nedarim 3:3-4.

8.

Although Nedarim 7a leaves this matter unresolved, the Rambam and other authorities rule stringently.

9.

I.e., we obligate him to give until he is certain that he gave an amount that surpassed his vow.

10.

Unlike a coin consecrated to the Temple treasury, there is no necessity for a formal process of exchange. The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 259:1) mention a further leniency, stating that a person may lend out this money - either to himself or to others. See Halachah 5.

11.

I.e., taking petty change and exchanging it for larger coins.

12.

Lest they be suspected of profiting on the exchange.

13.

And thus that suspicion will not apply.

14.

I.e., as long as they hold the money in their possession, they will continue trying to influence others to give. Once they give the money to the poor, we fear that they will cease their efforts.

15.

I.e., to sell it and use the money for another charitable purpose.

16.

The Radbaz states that, for that same purpose, if the name of the donor is engraved upon it, it may not be sold for a non-sacramental purpose. This ruling is quoted by the Rama (Yoreh De'ah 259:3).

17.

From the wording of the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 259:3), the Turei Zahav infers that the decision to exchange the article must be made by the community. It is not sufficient for the trustee of the synagogue to make it alone.

18.

If, however, the donor's name is no longer associated with it, it may be sold (Siftei Cohen 259:13).

19.

This would lead to the desecration of God's name (Turei Zahav 259:6).

20.

These words were originally addressed to the heads of the gentile nations who offered to help the Jews who returned to Zion rebuild the Temple. Nevertheless, they apply with regard to all gentiles in every age.

21.

The verse continues: "Instead, we ourselves will build it."

22.

And thus it would be forbidden to benefit from it.

23.

I.e., specific entities like beams or stones. An entity that is not specific may be accepted, for there is no reason to be more stringent for the walls of Jerusalem than for the Temple itself (Radbaz).

24.

These words, spoken by Nechemiah to the gentile enemies of the Jews who returned to Zion, are taken beyond their literal context and applied to building the city at all times.

25.

Based on Hilchot Melachim 10:10, we can assume that this is speaking about an idolater. If, however, a gentile accepts upon himself the observance of the Seven Universal Laws commanded to Noah and his descendants, we are permitted to accept charity from him.

26.

The impression that the Jews cannot take care of their own and must rely on the gentiles for charity degrades the honor of God's name (Turei Zahav 254:1). If, however, the gentiles' charity is given in private, there is no difficulty in accepting it. Indeed, a person who accepts charity from the gentiles in public is not acceptable as a witness (Hilchot Edut 11:5).

27.

For it is highly likely that the king would take offense were he to hear that his charity was spurned.

28.

We do not give it to the Jews, less this generate merit for the gentile king and allow his kingship to prosper (Bava Batra 10b).

29.

For diverting the charity from its intended purpose is also likely to arouse the king's rage.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 254:2) quotes the Rambam's ruling. The Rama states that the king's wishes should be heeded.

30.

For as the Rambam continues to explain, all of the different aspects of charitable gifts are included in the redemption of captives (Bava Batra 8b).

31.

For at any time, his captors may take his life.

32.

An exception is made in this instance, because the captives' lives are at risk.

33.

From the Rambam's wording, the Turei Zahav 252:21 infers that if the building is not complete, it may be sold.

34.

The Siftei Cohen 252:1 states that if the community has no way of raising the funds through other means, it may sell the synagogue.

35.

I.e., they are evaluated like servants sold at a slave market (Meiri, Gittin 45a).

36.

Gittin, loc. cit. gives two reasons:

a) Were lawless men to know that they could receive exorbitant prices for the redemption of captives, they would be encouraged to kidnap them frequently.

b) this would be very taxing for the community.

The Rambam follows the latter view. Hence, even family members who would be willing to pay the extra expense are forbidden to do so (Radbaz). When quoting this law, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 252:4) states that if the captive is a Torah scholar, an exception can be made and he may be redeemed for more than his worth.

37.

I.e., if captives were wont to be helped to escape, kidnappers would become very strict and harsh when guarding other captives in the future.

38.

For it appears that the father has no compunctions against selling himself or his children and thus the situation will merely repeat itself.

39.

Lest they become assimilated among the nations. During their fathers' lifetime, by contrast, we presume that he will educate them concerning their Jewish heritage even when they are held by the gentiles (Rashi, Gittin 47a).

40.

For we do not place any financial concerns above Jewish life.

41.

See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 13:11, 14:9, which explain that these steps are necessary for a servant to attain the status of a servant of the Jewish people.

42.

If, however, he transgresses because it is to his benefit to do so, he may be redeemed, but there is no obligation to redeem him [Rama (Yoreh De'ah 251:2)].

43.

There is another reason to give a woman precedence with regard to the redemption from captivity: We fear that the woman may be raped.

44.

The Rambam is using a euphemism for sexual relations.

45.

I.e., sodomic rape is against a man's nature. Hence it is more shameful than ordinary rape.

46.

Ketubot 67b says the woman should be given 50 dinarim, but those are not pure silver. Instead, they were seven eights base metals and one eighth pure silver.

47.

I.e. we give respect to the holiness of the priest's lineage.

48.

The term challal refers to the offspring of a priest who was born from intimate relations forbidden to a priest or is the descendant of the offspring of such relations. See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, ch. 19. Such a person - and similarly, those that are mentioned afterwards - is considered to be of blemished lineage. The extent of the blemish determines the person's place on the ladder of precedence. See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Horiot 3:8) which mentions further details concerning this order of succession.

49.

The term shituki means "one who is silenced" and refers to a child who knows the identity of his mother, but does not definitely know the identity of his father. He is silenced when he inquires about that matter (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 15:12).

50.

The term asufi means "one who was gathered in" and refers to a child who knows neither the identity of his mother, nor of his father, but instead was "gathered in" from the market place (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 15:13). Both a shituki and an asufi are mamzerim of questionable status, i.e., it is possible that they are mamzerim and it is possible that they are not. Hence, they are given precedence over a person who is definitely a mamzer [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.)].

51.

The term mamzer refers to a child who was born from an incestuous or adulterous relationship. See Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah, ch. 15.

52.

The term netin, means "the designated ones" and refers to the descendants of the Gibeonites, one of the seven Canaanite nations who converted en masse. Joshua decreed that they be forbidden to marry among the Jewish people. David reinforced that decree, causing it to apply even at a time when the Sanctuary is no longer standing (Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 12:22-23).

53.

I.e., as a Jew, and was educated in an environment of holiness 13 [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (ibid.)].

54.

With regard to servants, it is written (Genesis 9:25): "Cursed is Canaan. He shall be a servant of servants" (Rashi, Ketubot, loc. cit.).

55.

Who is given the highest degree of respect in terms of position [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.)].

56.

Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:2 interprets Proverbs 3:15 which states that the Torah is "Dearer than pearls" (mip'ninim) as meaning that the Torah receives precedence over the High Priest who enters the inner most chamber (lifnei ulifni'im).

57.

The Rambam mentions the teacher before the father, because that is the order of precedence. The rationale is that one's father brought one into this world, but his teacher brings him into the world to come. If, however, his father is a Torah scholar, even if he is a lesser scholar than the teacher, the father receives precedence (ibid. 5:1; Hilchot Gezeilah 12:2).

58.

The Radbaz questions why a person's father is not given precedence over a Torah scholar even if the father is unlearned. Although the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 251:9) quotes the Rambam's ruling, the Siftei Cohen 251:17 states that one's father receives precedence even when he is unlearned.

Matnot Aniyim - Chapter 9

1

In every city where Jews live, they are obligated to appoint faithful,1 men of renown as trustees of a charitable fund. They should circulate among the people from Friday to Friday and take from each person what is appropriate for him to give and the assessment made upon him. They then allocate the money from Friday to Friday, giving each poor person sufficient food for seven days. This is called the kupah.2

א

כָּל עִיר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל חַיָּבִין לְהַעֲמִיד מֵהֶם גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה אֲנָשִׁים יְדוּעִים וְנֶאֱמָנִים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ מַחְזִירִין עַל הָעָם מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת לְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת וְלוֹקְחִין מִכָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מַה שֶּׁהוּא רָאוּי לִתֵּן וְדָבָר הַקָּצוּב עָלָיו. וְהֵן מְחַלְּקִין הַמָּעוֹת מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת לְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת וְנוֹתְנִין לְכָל עָנִי וְעָנִי מְזוֹנוֹת הַמַּסְפִּיקִין לְשִׁבְעָה יָמִים. וְזוֹ הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת קֻפָּה:

2

Similarly, we appoint trustees who take bread, different types of food, fruit, or money from every courtyard from those who make a spontaneous donation and divide what was collected among the poor in the evening, giving each poor person sustenance for that day. This is called the tamchui.3

ב

וְכֵן מַעֲמִידִין גַּבָּאִין שֶׁלּוֹקְחִין בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם מִכָּל חָצֵר וְחָצֵר פַּת וּמִינֵי מַאֲכָל אוֹ פֵּרוֹת אוֹ מָעוֹת מִמִּי שֶׁמִּתְנַדֵּב לְפִי שָׁעָה. וּמְחַלְּקִין אֶת הַגָּבוּי לָעֶרֶב בֵּין הָעֲנִיִּים וְנוֹתְנִין לְכָל עָנִי מִמֶּנּוּ פַּרְנָסַת יוֹמוֹ. וְזֶהוּ הַנִּקְרָא תַּמְחוּי:

3

We have never seen nor heard of a Jewish community that does not have a kupah for charity. A tamchui, by contrast, exists in some communities, but not in others. The common practice at present is that the trustees of the kupah circulate [among the community and collect] every day and divide [the proceeds] every Friday.4

ג

מֵעוֹלָם לֹא רָאִינוּ וְלֹא שָׁמַעְנוּ בְּקָהָל מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן קֻפָּה שֶׁל צְדָקָה. אֲבָל תַּמְחוּי יֵשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ בּוֹ וְיֵשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁלֹּא נָהֲגוּ בּוֹ. וְהַמִּנְהָג הַפָּשׁוּט הַיּוֹם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ גַּבָּאֵי הַקֻּפָּה מַחְזִירִין בְּכָל יוֹם וּמְחַלְּקִין מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת לְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת:

4

On fast days, we distribute food to the poor. Whenever there is a fast day on which the people eat and went to bed without distributing charity to the poor, they are considered as murderers.5 Concerning them, the Oral Tradition says [Isaiah 1:21]:6 "Charity is held overnight and now [you are] murderers."

When does this apply? When they did not give them bread and fruit which is [usually] eaten together with bread, e.g., dates and grapes. If, however, they delayed the delivery of money or wheat, they are not considered as murderers.7

ד

בְּתַעֲנִיּוֹת מְחַלְּקִים מְזוֹנוֹת לָעֲנִיִּים. וְכָל תַּעֲנִית שֶׁאָכְלוּ הָעָם וְלָנוּ וְלֹא חִלְּקוּ צְדָקָה לָעֲנִיִּים הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ כְּשׁוֹפְכֵי דָּמִים וַעֲלֵיהֶם נֶאֱמַר בַּקַּבָּלָה (ישעיה א כא) "צֶדֶק יָלִין בָּהּ וְעַתָּה מְרַצְּחִים". בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁלֹּא נָתְנוּ לָהֶן הַפַּת וְהַפֵּרוֹת שֶׁאוֹכְלִים בָּהֶם הַפַּת כְּגוֹן תְּמָרִים וַעֲנָבִים. אֲבָל אִם אֵחֲרוּ הַמָּעוֹת אוֹ הַחִטִּים אֵינָן כְּשׁוֹפְכֵי דָּמִים:

5

[Money for] the kupah should be collected only by two people together,8 for no less than two communal trustees should ever be appointed over the financial interests of the community. It is permitted to entrust the money of the kupah to one person, but [the funds] should not be distributed by less than three trustees, because [the allocation] is comparable to a judgment concerning financial matters, since each person is given his needs for that week. [Donations for] the tamchui should be collected by three - because it does not involve a fixed amount9 - and it is distributed by three.

ה

הַקֻּפָּה אֵינָהּ נִגְבֵּית אֶלָּא בִּשְׁנַיִם שֶׁאֵין עוֹשִׂים שְׂרָרָה עַל הַצִּבּוּר בְּמָמוֹן פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁנַיִם. וּמֻתָּר לְהַאֲמִין לְאֶחָד הַמָּעוֹת שֶׁל קֻפָּה. וְאֵינָהּ נֶחְלֶקֶת אֶלָּא בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא כְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת. שֶׁנּוֹתְנִים לְכָל אֶחָד דֵּי מַחֲסוֹרוֹ לְשַׁבָּת. והַתַּמְחוּי נִגְבֶּה בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה שֶׁאֵינוֹ דָּבָר קָצוּב. וּמִתְחַלֵּק בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה:

6

[Donations for] the tamchui are collected every day. [Those for] the kupah are collected from Friday until Friday. [The gifts from] the tamchui are given [also]10 to poor people at large.11 [Those from] the kupah are given only to the poor of that city.

ו

הַתַּמְחוּי נִגְבֶּה בְּכָל יוֹם. וְהַקֻּפָּה מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת לְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת. וְהַתַּמְחוּי לַעֲנִיֵּי עוֹלָם. וְהַקֻּפָּה לַעֲנִיֵּי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר בִּלְבַד:

7

The inhabitants of a city have permission to give [the donations given to] the kupah to the tamchui and [those given for] the tamchui to the kupah. Similarly, they may exchange [these donations] for any communal purpose that they desire even though a stipulation to that effect was not made when they were collected.12 If there is a great sage in that city dependent on whose judgment all collections are made13 and he is the one who allocates the funds to the poor according to his assessment, he is permitted to use [these funds] for any communal purpose he sees fit.

ז

רַשָּׁאִין בְּנֵי הָעִיר לַעֲשׂוֹת קֻפָּה תַּמְחוּי. וְתַמְחוּי קֻפָּה. וּלְשַׁנּוֹתָן לְכָל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצוּ מִצָּרְכֵי צִבּוּר. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִתְנוּ כֵּן בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁגָּבוּ. וְאִם הָיָה בַּמְּדִינָה חָכָם גָּדוֹל שֶׁהַכּל גּוֹבִין עַל דַּעְתּוֹ וְהוּא יְחַלֵּק לָעֲנִיִּים כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאֶה. הֲרֵי זֶה רַשַּׁאי לְשַׁנּוֹתָן לְכָל מַה שֶּׁיֵּרָאֶה לוֹ מִצָּרְכֵי צִבּוּר:

8

Trustees of a charitable fund are not permitted to depart from each other in the marketplace14 [except for a brief time], e.g., one goes to the gate to collect and the other to a shop.15

ח

גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה אֵין רַשָּׁאִין לִפְרשׁ זֶה מִזֶּה בַּשּׁוּק. אֶלָּא כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה זֶה פּוֹרֵשׁ לַשַּׁעַר וְזֶה פּוֹרֵשׁ לַחֲנוּת וְגוֹבִין:

9

If a charity trustee finds money in the marketplace,16 he should not put it into his own pocket,17 but instead into the wallet of the charitable fund. When he comes home, he should take it [for himself].

ט

מָצָא הַגַּבַּאי מָעוֹת בַּשּׁוּק לֹא יִתְּנֵם לְתוֹךְ כִּיסוֹ אֶלָּא לְתוֹךְ אַרְנְקִי שֶׁל צְדָקָה. וּכְשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לְבֵיתוֹ יִטְלֵם:

10

If a charity trustee is owed money by a colleague and [the latter] pays him in the marketplace, he should not put [this money] in his pocket, but instead into the wallet of the charitable fund.18 When he comes home, he should take it [for himself].

He should not count out the money of the charitable fund in pairs, but rather one coin at a time, lest suspicions be aroused,19 as [implied by Numbers 32:22]: "And you shall be guiltless in the eyes of God and Israel."20

י

הָיָה הַגַּבַּאי נוֹשֶׁה בַּחֲבֵרוֹ מָנֶה וּפְרָעוֹ בַּשּׁוּק לֹא יִתְּנֵם לְתוֹךְ כִּיסוֹ אֶלָּא לְתוֹךְ אַרְנְקִי שֶׁל צְדָקָה. וּכְשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לְבֵיתוֹ יִטְלֵם. וְלֹא יִמְנֶה מָעוֹת הַקֻּפָּה שְׁנַיִם שְׁנַיִם אֶלָּא אֶחָד אֶחָד מִפְּנֵי הַחֲשָׁד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לב כב) "וִהְיִיתֶם נְקִיִּים מֵה' וּמִיִּשְׂרָאֵל":

11

When the trustee of a charitable fund does not have poor people to whom to distribute the money, he may exchange the coins for dinarim.21 Another person, however, [should carry out the transaction], not he himself.22

When the trustee of a tamchui does not have poor people to whom to distribute [the food he collected], he should sell it to others,23 but not to himself.24

We do not enter into a reckoning with the trustee of a charitable fund concerning the charity he collected25 or with the treasures of the Temple regarding funds consecrated to them, as stated [in II Kings 22:7]: "No reckoning shall be made with them for the money entrusted to them because they are acting in good faith."26

יא

גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם עֲנִיִּים לְחַלֵּק מְצָרְפִין הַמָּעוֹת דִּינָרִין לַאֲחֵרִים אֲבָל לֹא לְעַצְמָן. גַּבָּאֵי תַּמְחוּי שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם עֲנִיִּים לְחַלֵּק מוֹכְרִים לַאֲחֵרִים וְאֵין מוֹכְרִים לְעַצְמָם. וְאֵין מְחַשְּׁבִים בִּצְדָקָה עִם גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה. וְלֹא בַּהֶקְדֵּשׁ עִם הַגִּזְבָּרִין. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים ב כב ז) "אַךְ לֹא יֵחָשֵׁב אִתָּם הַכֶּסֶף הַנִּתָּן עַל יָדָם כִּי בֶּאֱמוּנָה הֵם עוֹשִׂים":

12

When a person has lived in a city for 30 days, we compel him to give charity to the kupah together with the inhabitants of the city.27 If he dwelled there for three months, we compel him to contribute to the tamchui.28 If he dwelled there for six months, we compel him to contribute to the fund used to clothe the poor of the city. If he dwelled there for nine months, we compel him to contribute to the fund used for the burial of the poor of the city and the provision of all their burial needs.29

יב

מִי שֶׁיָּשַׁב בַּמְּדִינָה שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לִתֵּן צְדָקָה לַקֻּפָּה עִם בְּנֵי הַמְּדִינָה. יָשַׁב שָׁם שְׁלֹשָׁה חֳדָשִׁים כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לִתֵּן הַתַּמְחוּי. יָשַׁב שָׁם שִׁשָּׁה חֳדָשִׁים כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לִתֵּן צְדָקָה בִּכְסוּת שֶׁמְּכַסִּים בָּהּ עֲנִיֵּי הָעִיר. יָשַׁב שָׁם תִּשְׁעָה חֳדָשִׁים כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ לִתֵּן צְדָקָה לִקְבוּרָה שֶׁקּוֹבְרִין בָּהּ אֶת הָעֲנִיִּים וְעוֹשִׂין לָהֶם כָּל צָרְכֵי קְבוּרָה:

13

When a person has enough food for two meals, it is forbidden for him to take from the tamchui.30 When he has enough food for fourteen meals, he should not take from the kupah.31 If he has 200 zuz, even if he does not invest or do business with them - or 50 zuz that he invests32 - he should not take shichachah, peah, or the tithe for the poor. If he has 200 zuz less a dinar, even though 1000 people give him at one time,33 he is permitted to take [the above]. If he has money in hand, but he owes a debt or it is under lien to his wife for her ketubah, he is permitted to take.34

יג

מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ מְזוֹן שְׁתֵּי סְעֻדּוֹת אָסוּר לוֹ לִטּל מִן הַתַּמְחוּי. הָיוּ לוֹ מְזוֹן אַרְבַּע עֶשְׂרֵה סְעֻדּוֹת לֹא יִטּל מִן הַקֻּפָּה. הָיוּ לוֹ מָאתַיִם זוּז אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא וְנוֹתֵן בָּהֶם [אוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים זוּז וְנוֹשֵׂא וְנוֹתֵן בָּהֶם] הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִטּל לֶקֶט שִׁכְחָה וּפֵאָה וּמַעֲשֵׂר עָנִי. הָיוּ לוֹ מָאתַיִם חָסֵר דִּינָר אֲפִלּוּ אֶלֶף נוֹתְנִין לוֹ כְּאֶחָד הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לִקַּח. הָיוּ בְּיָדוֹ מָעוֹת וַהֲרֵי הֵן עָלָיו חוֹב אוֹ שֶׁהָיוּ מְמֻשְׁכָּנִים לִכְתֻבַּת אִשְׁתּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לִקַּח:

14

When a poor person is in need, but owns a courtyard and household utensils - even silver and golden utensils - we do not obligate him to sell his house and his personal possessions. Instead, he is permitted to accept [charity] and it is a mitzvah to give him.

When does the above apply? With regard to eating utensils, drinking utensils, clothing, bedding, and the like.35 If, however, he owns a golden comb or pestle or the like, he should sell them and buy less valuable ones.36

When does the above37 apply? Before he has descended to the level where he takes charity from people at large.38 Once he collects charity [from the community], we obligate him to sell his utensils and purchase lesser ones and then accept charity.39

יד

עָנִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ וְיֵשׁ לוֹ חָצֵר וּכְלֵי בַּיִת אֲפִלּוּ הָיוּ לוֹ כְּלֵי כֶּסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לִמְכֹּר אֶת בֵּיתוֹ וְאֶת כְּלֵי תַּשְׁמִישׁוֹ אֶלָּא מֻתָּר לִקַּח. וּמִצְוָה לִתֵּן לוֹ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בִּכְלֵי אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה וּמַלְבּוּשׁ וּמַצָּעוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. אֲבָל אִם הָיוּ כְּלֵי כֶּסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב כְּגוֹן מִגְרֶדֶת אוֹ עֵלִי וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מוֹכְרָן וְלוֹקֵחַ פָּחוֹת מֵהֶן. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לִגְבּוֹת מִן הָעָם. אֲבָל אַחַר שֶׁגָּבָה הַצְּדָקָה מְחַיְּבִים אוֹתוֹ לִמְכֹּר כֵּלָיו וְלִקַּח אֲחֵרִים פְּחוּתִין מֵהֶם וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִטּל:

15

When a man of means is in the midst of a journey from city to city, he used up all his money on the journey, and he does not have anything to eat, it is permitted for him to take leket, shichachah, pe'ah, and the tithe for the poor and he may benefit from charity. When he returns to his home,40 he is not obligated to pay, because he was poor at that time.41 To what can this be compared? To a poor person who became wealthy who is not obligated to pay back [the charity he received while poor].

טו

בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁהָיָה מְהַלֵּךְ לָעִיר וְתַמּוּ לוֹ הַמָּעוֹת בַּדֶּרֶךְ וְאֵין לוֹ עַתָּה מַה יֹּאכַל הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לִקַּח לֶקֶט שִׁכְחָה וּפֵאָה וּמַעֲשַׂר עָנִי וְלֵהָנוֹת מִן הַצְּדָקָה. וְלִכְשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לְבֵיתוֹ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם שֶׁהֲרֵי עָנִי הָיָה בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה. הָא לְמָה זֶה דּוֹמֶה לֶעָנִי שֶׁהֶעֱשִׁיר שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְשַׁלֵּם:

16

When a person possesses homes, fields, and vineyards42 which were he to sell them in the winter, he would be forced to sell them cheaply,43 but were he to leave them until the summer, he would be able to sell them at their worth, we do not obligate him to sell them [in the winter]. Instead, we enable him to partake of the tithe of the poor [until he partakes of] half the worth of his property44 [so that] he will not be pressed to sell outside the [appropriate] time to sell.

טז

מִי שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ בָּתִּים שָׂדוֹת וּכְרָמִים וְאִם מוֹכְרָן בִּימֵי הַגְּשָׁמִים מוֹכְרָן בְּזוֹל וְאִם הִנִּיחָן עַד יְמוֹת הַחַמָּה מוֹכְרָן בְּשׁוְֹיֵהֶן. אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לִמְכֹּר אֶלָּא מַאֲכִילִין אוֹתוֹ מַעֲשַׂר עָנִי עַד חֲצִי דְּמֵיהֶן וְלֹא יִדְחֹק עַצְמוֹ וְיִמְכֹּר שֶׁלֹּא בִּזְמַן מְכִירָה:

17

If people at large were purchasing property at high prices,45 but he could only find people to purchase from him cheaply, because he is pressed for funds and preoccupied,46 we do not require him to sell [at a low price]. Instead, he is allowed to continue to partake of the tithe for the poor47 until he can sell his property at its worth and everyone will know that he is not under pressure to sell.

יז

הָיוּ שְׁאָר הָאָדָם לוֹקְחִין בְּיֹקֶר וְהוּא אֵינוֹ מוֹצֵא שֶׁיִּקַּח מִמֶּנּוּ אֶלָּא בְּזוֹל מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא דָּחוּק וְטָרוּד אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לִמְכֹּר. אֶלָּא אוֹכֵל מַעֲשַׂר עָנִי וְהוֹלֵךְ עַד שֶׁיִּמְכֹּר בְּשָׁוֶה וְיֵדְעוּ הַכּל שֶׁאֵינוֹ דָּחוּק לִמְכֹּר:

18

When funds were collected for a poor person to satisfy his lack and [the collection] exceeded his needs, the additional funds belong to him. Extra funds [donated for] the poor should be given to the poor. Extra funds [donated for the redemption of] captives should be used for that purpose.48 Extra funds [donated for the redemption of] one individual captive should be given to that captive.49 Extra funds [donated for the burial of] the deceased should be used for that purpose.50 Extra funds [donated for the burial of] an individual deceased person should be given to his heirs.51

יח

עָנִי שֶׁגָּבוּ לוֹ כְּדֵי לְהַשְׁלִים מַחֲסוֹרוֹ וְהוֹתִירוּ עַל מַה שֶּׁהוּא צָרִיךְ הֲרֵי הַמּוֹתָר שֶׁלּוֹ. וּמוֹתַר עֲנִיִּים לָעֲנִיִּים. וּמוֹתַר שְׁבוּיִים לַשְּׁבוּיִים. מוֹתַר שָׁבוּי לְאוֹתוֹ שָׁבוּי. מוֹתַר מֵתִים לַמֵּתִים. מוֹתַר הַמֵּת לְיוֹרְשָׁיו:

19

When a poor person gives a p'rutah to the tamchui or to the kupah, we accept it from him. If he does not give, we do not require him to give.52 If he was given new clothes and he gave them back his worn clothes, we accept them from him. If he does not give them, we do not require him to.

יט

עָנִי שֶׁנָּתַן פְּרוּטָה לַתַּמְחוּי אוֹ פְּרוּטָה לַקֻּפָּה מְקַבְּלִים מִמֶּנּוּ. וְאִם לֹא נָתַן אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לִתֵּן. נָתְנוּ לוֹ בְּגָדִים חֲדָשִׁים וְהֶחֱזִיר לָהֶן אֶת הַשְּׁחָקִין מְקַבְּלִין מִמֶּנּוּ. וְאִם לֹא נָתַן אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ לִתֵּן:

Footnotes
1.

See Chapter 10, the conclusion of Halachah 8.

2.

The term literally means "container" and refers to the charity box in which donations were placed and by extension, to the fund financed by those collections.

3.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Keilim 13:3), the Rambam defines this term as a pot with compartments.

4.

So that the poor will have their Sabbath needs provided for.

5.

On fast days, it was customary to distribute food to the poor after the evening service at the conclusion of the fast. Since the poor would look forward to this meal and rely on it to break their fast. If it was not provided to them, they would go to bed without food (Rashi, Sanhedrin 35a).

6.

We have translated the verse according to the meaning with which it is employed by the Rambam. In its literal context, it would be translated differently.

7.

Because regardless, this does not provide the poor with readily available food and they were not depending on it for their meal (Rashi, loc. cit.).

8.

Three individuals are not necessary for we are speaking about a specific sum levied upon each person and there is no aspect of judgment involved (Tosafot, Sanhedrin 35a).

9.

Since it does not involve a fixed amount, it is comparable to a judgment and hence, requires three individuals (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, as quoted by the Radbaz).

10.

This bracketed addition is based on the gloss of the Radbaz who emphasizes that the kupah was intended to provide the local poor people with their essential needs, while the tamchui was intended as a supplement for them from which others were also allowed to take. From other authorities, however, it appears that the intent is that only poor people from other places are allowed to benefit from the tamchui.

11.

I.e., including poor people from other places.

12.

If, however, a stipulation was made that the funds donated be used for a specific charitable purpose, they may be used only for that purpose.

13.

The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 256:4) states that this same law applies with regard to a charity collector appointed by the community.

14.

In this way, no one will have the impression that the trustee misappropriated the money (Rashi, Bava Batra 9b).

15.

I.e., in a manner in which each remains in the other's sight (Bava Batra, loc. cit.).

16.

Which as the discoverer he is entitled to keep for himself.

17.

Lest people say that he is taking money from the charitable fund (Rashi, loc. cit.).

18.

Lest people say that he is taking money from the charitable fund (Rashi, loc. cit.).

19.

I.e., people might say that he is counting pairs and then taking one of each pair for himself (ibid.).

20.

Implied is that not only should one not transgress, but that there would not be the slightest suspicion of transgression.

21.

Coins of greater worth.

22.

Lest people think that he is profiting by the transaction.

23.

And use the proceeds for the tamchui at a later date.

24.

Lest people think that he is profiting by the transaction.

25.

I.e., we do not ask them to make a precise reckoning of the income and expenses of the charitable fund.

26.

This verse describes the practice conducted by King Josiah with regard to the money collected from the people for the renovation of the Temple. It, however, is understood as applying beyond immediate context and applying with regard to all those who oversee charitable funds.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 257:2) quotes the Rambam's ruling. The Rama adds that, in the spirit of the verse from Numbers cited above, it is desirable for a trustee to give an account. Moreover, he continues, the above applies only with regard to those trustees who have an honorable reputation and who were appointed to their position by the community. If a trustee does not have such a reputation or he seized his position by force, he is required to make an accounting.

27.

I.e., the kupah represents the most urgent needs of a community. Hence, as soon as a person has been there for a significant time, he is required to pay the levy for that fund. The longer he stays in the community, the more communal responsibility he is required to take.

28.

The commentaries note that the standard version of Bava Batra 8b, the source for the Rambam's ruling, reverses the text and makes one responsible for the tamchui before the kupah. They explain, however, that there are versions of the text that support the Rambam's ruling. It is quoted by Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 256:5).

29.

The Radbaz and the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) emphasizes that these guidelines apply when a person has not expressed his intentions to become part of the city he is visiting. If, however, a visitor decides to become a permanent resident in a city, he immediately becomes responsible for all charitable levies.

30.

I.e., since he has enough food for the day, he should not take from the fund whose purpose is to provide people with their food for the day [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Pe'ah 8:7)].

31.

I.e., since he has enough food for the week, he should not take from the fund whose purpose is to provide people with their food for the week (ibid.).

32.

For 50 zuz which one invests and uses to earn income is more desirable than 200 that do not provide one with income.

33.

From charity, i.e., since he is deemed poor, he is allowed to take charity, even if doing so will lift him far above the poverty level.

34.

For in these instances, it is as if the money he possesses is not his own.

35.

I.e., functional utensils, used in his day-to-day life. Since he has become used to valuable utensils, he will not feel comfortable using lesser ones (Ketubot 68a).

36.

Since these utensils are used for simple purposes, there is no difficulty in using less valuable ones.

37.

The leniency of the first clause which allows the person to maintain possession of his property.

38.

I.e., he is given charity by individuals, but not by the community at large [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 253:1)].

39.

Because it is improper that a person of some means should receive communal funds and, in this way, reduce the amount given to poor people who have no resources whatsoever (the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah, Pe'ah 8:8).

After quoting the Rambam's ruling, the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:2) states: "There are opinions that maintain that the above measures applied only in their era. In the present time, by contrast, a person may accept [charity] until he has sufficient principle [to invest] so that he and his family can sustain themselves from the profits. These are words of reason."

40.

And has money at hand again.

41.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Pe'ah 5:4), the Rambam writes that it is pious behavior to repay the money one received from charity.

42.

This refers to a home that he does not dwell in since, as stated in Halachah 14, we do not obligate him to sell his home.

43.

For market conditions would dictate lower prices at that time, since the purchaser will not begin to benefit from the fields and vineyards until the spring (Rashi, Bava Kama 7a).

44.

We do not give him more than that amount, for a person will never lose more than half the value of his property by selling it at an unsuitable time (Radbaz).

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 253:3) quotes the Rambam's ruling. The Tur and the Rama interpret the passage from Bava Kama differently. According to their perspective, we enable him to receive charity until he finds someone who is willing to purchase his property at half price.

45.

If, however, property prices at large are depressed, we do not allow one to gain time by benefiting from charity (Siftei Cohen 253:7).

46.

I.e., since people at large are aware of his plight, they would only offer him low prices in an attempt to pressure him to sell.

47.

And thus he will not be in immediate need of funds.

48.

I.e., to redeem other captives in the future.

49.

To use for the rehabilitation of his personal situation.

50.

I.e., to bury other deceased individuals in the future.

51.

The intent is not that the deceased acquired the money and his heirs inherited it from him, for he never formally acquired it. Instead, since there was a certain measure of embarrassment involved for the deceased in having the money raised, he is willing to grant the financial benefit for that embarrassment to his heirs (Sanhedrin 48a).

After quoting these laws, the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 253:6) states: "If the communal officers see that there is an immediate need and they wish to change [the objective to which charity is given], they have that authority."

52.

Even though, as stated in Chapter 7, Halachah 5, even a poor person who derives his livelihood from charity is obligated to give charity, that obligation is his own responsibility. The community does not compel him to give (Radbaz). Alternatively, that obligation applies only when he has enough for his livelihood. If he does not have enough, he is not required to give (Siftei Cohen 253:11).

Matnot Aniyim - Chapter 10

1

We are obligated to be careful with regard to the mitzvah of charity to a greater extent than all [other] positive commandments,1 because charity is an identifying mark for a righteous person, a descendant of Abraham,2 our patriarch, as [Genesis 18:19] states: "I have known him, because he commands his children... to perform charity." The throne of Israel will not be established, nor will the true faith stand except through charity, as [Isaiah 54:14] states: "You shall be established through righteousness." And Israel will be redeemed solely through charity, as [ibid. 1:27] states: "Zion will be redeemed through judgment and those who return to her through charity."

א

חַיָּבִין אָנוּ לְהִזָּהֵר בְּמִצְוַת צְדָקָה יוֹתֵר מִכָּל מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה. שֶׁהַצְּדָקָה סִימָן לַצַּדִּיק זֶרַע אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית יח יט) "כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת בָּנָיו" (בראשית יח יט) "לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה". וְאֵין כִּסֵּא יִשְׂרָאֵל מִתְכּוֹנֵן וְדַת הָאֱמֶת עוֹמֶדֶת אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נד יד) "בִּצְדָקָה תִּכּוֹנָנִי". וְאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה א כז) "צִיּוֹן בְּמִשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה":

2

A person will never become impoverished from giving charity. No harm nor damage will ever be caused because of charity,3 as [ibid. 32:17] states: "And the deed of charity is peace." Everyone who is merciful evokes mercy from others, as [Deuteronomy 13:18] states: "And He shall grant you mercy and shower mercy upon you and multiply you." Whenever a person is cruel and does not show mercy, his lineage is suspect,4 for cruelty is found only among the gentiles, as [Jeremiah] 3:42] states: "They are cruel and will not show mercy."5

The entire Jewish people and all those who attach themselves to them are as brothers, as [Deuteronomy 14:1] states: "You are children unto God your Lord." And if a brother will not show mercy to a brother, who will show mercy to them? To whom do the poor of Israel lift up their eyes? To the gentiles who hate them and pursue them? Behold their eyes are pointed to their brethren alone.

ב

לְעוֹלָם אֵין אָדָם מַעֲנִי מִן הַצְּדָקָה וְאֵין דָּבָר רַע וְלֹא הֶזֵּק נִגְלָל בִּשְׁבִיל הַצְּדָקָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה לב יז) "וְהָיָה מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה שָׁלוֹם." כָּל הַמְרַחֵם מְרַחֲמִין עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג יח) "וְנָתַן לְךָ רַחֲמִים וְרִחַמְךָ וְהִרְבֶּךָ". וְכָל מִי שֶׁהוּא אַכְזָרִי וְאֵינוֹ מְרַחֵם יֵשׁ לָחוּשׁ לְיַחֲסוֹ. שֶׁאֵין הָאַכְזָרִיּוּת מְצוּיָה אֶלָּא בְּעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ירמיה נ מב) "אַכְזָרִי הֵמָּה וְלֹא יְרַחֵמוּ". וְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַנִּלְוֶה עֲלֵיהֶם כְּאַחִים הֵם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יד א) "בָּנִים אַתֶּם לַה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם" וְאִם לֹא יְרַחֵם הָאָח עַל הָאָח מִי יְרַחֵם עָלָיו. וּלְמִי עֲנִיֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל נוֹשְׂאִין עֵינֵיהֶן. הֲלְעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁשּׂוֹנְאִין אוֹתָן וְרוֹדְפִים אַחֲרֵיהֶן. הָא אֵין עֵינֵיהֶן תְּלוּיוֹת אֶלָּא לַאֲחֵיהֶן:

3

Anyone who turns his eyes away from [giving] charity is described as being "rebellious" like someone who worships false divinities is described as "rebellious, as [Deuteronomy 13:14] states with regard to the worship of false divinities: "Rebellious men went out." And with regard to a person who turns his eyes away from [giving] charity, [ibid. 15:9] states: "Be careful, lest a rebellious thought arise in your heart." Such a person is also called "wicked," as [Proverbs 12:10] states: "The mercies of the wicked are cruel." And he is called a sinner, as [Deuteronomy, loc. cit.,] states: "And he shall cry out against you to God and you will be deemed as sinning." The Holy One, blessed be He, is close to the outcry of the poor, as it is written:6 "You hear the outcry of the poor." Therefore one must be careful with regard to their outcry, for a covenant has been established with them, as [Exodus 22:26] states: "When he will cry out to Me, I will listen, for I am compassionate."

ג

כָּל הַמַּעֲלִים עֵינָיו מִן הַצְּדָקָה הֲרֵי זֶה נִקְרָא בְּלִיַּעַל כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּקְרָא עוֹבֵד עַכּוּ''ם בְּלִיַּעַל. וּבְעַכּוּ''ם הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים יג יד) "יָצְאוּ אֲנָשִׁים בְּנֵי בְלִיַּעַל" וּבְמַעֲלִים עֵינָיו מִן הַצְּדָקָה הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים טו ט) "הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן יִהְיֶה דָבָר עִם לְבָבְךָ בְלִיַּעַל". וְנִקְרָא רָשָׁע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי יב י) "וְרַחֲמֵי רְשָׁעִים אַכְזָרִי". וְנִקְרָא חוֹטֵא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ט) "וְקָרָא עָלֶיךָ אֶל ה' וְהָיָה בְךָ חֵטְא". וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא קָרוֹב לְשַׁוְעַת עֲנִיִּים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר שַׁוְעַת עֲנִיִּים אַתָּה תִשְׁמַע. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לְהִזָּהֵר בְּצַעֲקָתָם שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּרִית כְּרוּתָה לָהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כב כו) "וְהָיָה כִּי יִצְעַק אֵלַי וְשָׁמַעְתִּי כִּי חַנּוּן אָנִי":

4

Whenever a person gives charity to a poor person with an unpleasant countenance and with his face buried in the earth, he loses and destroys his merit7 even if he gives him 1000 gold pieces. Instead, he should give him with a pleasant countenance and with happiness, commiserating with him about his troubles, as [Job 30:25] states: "Did I not weep for those who face difficult times; did not my soul feel sorrow for the destitute?" And he should speak to him words of sympathy and comfort, as [ibid. 29:13] states: "I would bring joy to a widow's heart."

ד

כָּל הַנּוֹתֵן צְדָקָה לְעָנִי בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים רָעוֹת וּפָנָיו כְּבוּשׁוֹת בַּקַּרְקַע אֲפִלּוּ נָתַן לוֹ אֶלֶף זְהוּבִים אִבֵּד זְכוּתוֹ וְהִפְסִידָהּ. אֶלָּא נוֹתֵן לוֹ בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת וּבְשִׂמְחָה וּמִתְאוֹנֵן עִמּוֹ עַל צָרָתוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איוב ל כה) "אִם לֹא בָכִיתִי לִקְשֵׁה יוֹם עָגְמָה נַפְשִׁי לָאֶבְיוֹן". וּמְדַבֵּר לוֹ דִּבְרֵי תַּחֲנוּנִים וְנִחוּמִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איוב כט יג) "וְלֵב אַלְמָנָה אַרְנִן":

5

If a poor person asks one for a donation and he has nothing to give him, he should conciliate him with words.8 It is forbidden to scold a poor person or to raise one's voice against him while shouting, because his heart is broken and crushed, and [Psalms 51:19] states: "God will not scorn a broken and crushed heart." And [Isaiah 57:15 describes as Divine the attribute of] "reviv[ing] the spirit of the lowly and revitalize[ing] the heart of the crushed." Woe unto he who shames the poor, woe be he! Instead, one should be like a father to him, both in mercies and in words, as [Job 29:16] states: "I am a father to the destitute."

ה

שָׁאַל הֶעָנִי מִמְּךָ וְאֵין בְּיָדְךָ כְּלוּם לִתֵּן לוֹ פַּיְּסֵהוּ בִּדְבָרִים. וְאָסוּר לִגְעֹר בְּעָנִי אוֹ לְהַגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלוֹ עָלָיו בִּצְעָקָה. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלִּבּוֹ נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּא וַהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהילים נא יט) "לֵב נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה אֱלֹהִים לֹא תִבְזֶה". וְאוֹמֵר (ישעיה נז טו) "לְהַחֲיוֹת רוּחַ שְׁפָלִים וּלְהַחֲיוֹת לֵב נִדְכָּאִים". וְאוֹי לְמִי שֶׁהִכְלִים אֶת הֶעָנִי אוֹי לוֹ. אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה לוֹ כְּאָב בֵּין בְּרַחֲמִים בֵּין בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איוב כט טז) "אָב אָנֹכִי לָאֶבְיוֹנִים":

6

A person who compels others to give charity and motivates them to do so receives a greater reward than the person who actually gives, as [alluded to by Isaiah 32:17]: "And the deed9 of charity is peace." With regard to the collectors of charity and the like can be applied [the words of praise, Daniel 12:3]: "Those who bring merit to the many are like the stars."

ו

הַכּוֹפֶה אֲחֵרִים לִתֵּן צְדָקָה וּמְעַשֶּׂה אוֹתָן שְׂכָרוֹ גָּדוֹל מִשְּׂכַר הַנּוֹתֵן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה לב יז) "וְהָיָה מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה שָׁלוֹם". וְעַל גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם אוֹמֵר (דניאל יב ג) "וּמַצְדִּיקֵי הָרַבִּים כַּכּוֹכָבִים":

7

There are eight levels in charity, each level surpassing the other. The highest level beyond which there is none is a person who supports a Jew who has fallen into poverty [by] giving him a present or a loan, entering into partnership with him,10 or finding him work so that his hand will be fortified so that he will not have to ask others [for alms].11 Concerning this [Leviticus 25:35] states: "You shall support him, the stranger, the resident, and he shall live among you." Implied is that you should support him before he falls and becomes needy.

ז

שְׁמוֹנֶה מַעֲלוֹת יֵשׁ בַּצְּדָקָה זוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִזּוֹ. מַעֲלָה גְּדוֹלָה שֶׁאֵין לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנָּה זֶה הַמַּחֲזִיק בְּיַד יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁמָּךְ וְנוֹתֵן לוֹ מַתָּנָה אוֹ הַלְוָאָה אוֹ עוֹשֶׂה עִמּוֹ שֻׁתָּפוּת אוֹ מַמְצִיא לוֹ מְלָאכָה כְּדֵי לְחַזֵּק אֶת יָדוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת לִשְׁאל. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לה) "וְהֶחֱזַקְתָּ בּוֹ גֵּר וְתוֹשָׁב וָחַי עִמָּךְ" כְּלוֹמַר הַחֲזֵק בּוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִפּל וְיִצְטָרֵךְ:

8

A lower [level] than this is one who gives charity to the poor without knowing to whom he gave and without the poor person knowing from whom he received. For this is an observance of the mitzvah for its sake alone.12 This [type of giving was] exemplified by the secret chamber that existed in the Temple. The righteous would make donations there in secret and poor people of distinguished lineage would derive their livelihood from it in secret.

A level close to this is giving to a charity fund.13 A person should not give to a charity fund unless he knows that the person managing it is faithful, wise, and capable of administering it in a proper manner as Rebbe Chananya ben Tradyon was.14

ח

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה הַנּוֹתֵן צְדָקָה לָעֲנִיִּים וְלֹא יָדַע לְמִי נָתַן וְלֹא יָדַע הֶעָנִי מִמִּי לָקַח. שֶׁהֲרֵי זוֹ מִצְוָה לִשְׁמָהּ. כְּגוֹן לִשְׁכַּת חֲשָׁאִים שֶׁהָיְתָה בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. שֶׁהָיוּ הַצַּדִּיקִים נוֹתְנִין בָּהּ בַּחֲשַׁאי וְהָעֲנִיִּים בְּנֵי טוֹבִים מִתְפַּרְנְסִין מִמֶּנָּה בַּחֲשַׁאי. וְקָרוֹב לָזֶה הַנּוֹתֵן לְתוֹךְ קֻפָּה שֶׁל צְדָקָה. וְלֹא יִתֵּן אָדָם לְתוֹךְ קֻפָּה שֶׁל צְדָקָה אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהַמְמֻנֶּה נֶאֱמָן וְחָכָם וְיוֹדֵעַ לְהַנְהִיג כַּשּׁוּרָה כְּרַבִּי חֲנַנְיָה בֶּן תְּרַדְיוֹן:

9

A lower level than that is an instance when the giver knows to whom he is giving, but the poor person does not know from whom he received. An example of this were the great Sages who would go in secret and throw money into the doorways of the poor.15 This is a worthy way of giving charity and it is a good quality [to express] if the trustees of the charitable fund are not conducting themselves appropriately. 16

ט

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיֵּדַע הַנּוֹתֵן לְמִי יִתֵּן וְלֹא יֵדַע הֶעָנִי מִמִּי לָקַח. כְּגוֹן גְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁהָיוּ הוֹלְכִין בַּסֵּתֶר וּמַשְׁלִיכִין הַמָּעוֹת בְּפִתְחֵי הָעֲנִיִּים. וְכָזֶה רָאוּי לַעֲשׂוֹת וּמַעֲלָה טוֹבָה הִיא אִם אֵין הַמְמֻנִּין בִּצְדָקָה נוֹהֲגִין כַּשּׁוּרָה:

10

A lower level than that is an instance when the poor person knows from whom he took, but the donor does not know to whom he gave. An example of this were the great Sages who would bundle coins in a sheet and hang them over their shoulders and the poor would come and take them so that they would not be embarrassed.17

י

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיֵּדַע הֶעָנִי מִמִּי נָטַל וְלֹא יֵדַע הַנּוֹתֵן. כְּגוֹן גְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים שֶׁהָיוּ צוֹרְרִים הַמָּעוֹת בִּסְדִינֵיהֶן וּמַפְשִׁילִין לַאֲחוֹרֵיהֶן וּבָאִין הָעֲנִיִּים וְנוֹטְלִין כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה לָהֶן בּוּשָׁה:

11

A lower level than that is giving [the poor person] in his hand before he asks.18

יא

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ בְּיָדוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּשְׁאַל:

12

A lower level than that is giving him after he asks.

יב

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ אַחַר שֶׁיִּשְׁאַל:

13

A lower level than this is giving him less than what is appropriate, but with a pleasant countenance.

יג

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ פָּחוֹת מִן הָרָאוּי בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת:

14

A lower level than that is giving him with sadness.

יד

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ בְּעֶצֶב:

15

Great sages would give a p'rutah to a poor person19 before every prayer service20 and then they would pray,21 as [implied by Psalms 17:15]: "I will see Your countenance in righteousness."22

טו

גְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים הָיוּ נוֹתְנִין פְּרוּטָה לְעָנִי קֹדֶם כָּל תְּפִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ מִתְפַּלְּלִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים יז טו) "אֲנִי בְּצֶדֶק אֶחֱזֶה פָנֶיךָ":

16

A person who gives money to his sons and daughters who are past the age of majority23 and whom he is not obligated to support in order to teach the males Torah and to direct the females in a course of upright path so that they will not become objects of derision and similarly one who gives food to his father and his mother24 is included among [those who give] charity.25 Indeed, it is a very important charity, for precedence is established on one's degree of closeness.26

Anyone who gives food and drink to the poor and orphans at his table,27he will call out to God and [God] will answer him and he will derive pleasure from Him, as [Isaiah 58:9] states: "Then you will call out and God will answer."28

טז

הַנּוֹתֵן מְזוֹנוֹת לְבָנָיו וְלִבְנוֹתָיו הַגְּדוֹלִים שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֵיהֶן כְּדֵי לְלַמֵּד הַזְּכָרִים תּוֹרָה וּלְהַנְהִיג הַבָּנוֹת בְּדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה וְלֹא יִהְיוּ מְבֻזּוֹת. וְכֵן הַנּוֹתֵן מְזוֹנוֹת לְאָבִיו וּלְאִמּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל הַצְּדָקָה. וּצְדָקָה גְּדוֹלָה הִיא שֶׁהַקָּרוֹב קוֹדֵם. וְכָל הַמַּאֲכִיל וּמַשְׁקֶה עֲנִיִּים וִיתוֹמִים עַל שֻׁלְחָנוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה קוֹרֵא אֶל ה' וְיַעֲנֵהוּ וּמִתְעַנֵּג שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נח ט) "אָז תִּקְרָא וַה' יַעֲנֶה":

17

Our Sages commanded29 that the poor and orphans should be members of a person's household rather than servants.30 This is preferable for him to employ these people and thus enable the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to benefit from his possessions rather than the descendants of Cham. Whoever increases [the number of] servants in his possession adds sin and transgression to the world every day.31 [Conversely,] if the poor are members of one's household, at every hour he adds merits and mitzvot.

יז

צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ בְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם עֲנִיִּים וִיתוֹמִים בִּמְקוֹם הָעֲבָדִים. מוּטָב לוֹ לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּאֵלּוּ וְיֵהָנוּ בְּנֵי אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב מִנְּכָסָיו וְלֹא יֵהָנוּ בָּהֶם זֶרַע חָם. שֶׁכָּל הַמַּרְבֶּה עֲבָדִים בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם מוֹסִיף חֵטְא וְעָוֹן בָּעוֹלָם. וְאִם יִהְיוּ עֲנִיִּים בְּנֵי בֵּיתוֹ בְּכָל שָׁעָה וְשָׁעָה מוֹסִיף זְכֻיּוֹת וּמִצְוֹת:

18

A person should always construct himself and bear hardship rather than appeal to people at large and make himself a burden on the community. Our Sages commanded, saying:32 "Make your Sabbaths as weekdays,33 and do not appeal to people at large." Even a distinguished sage who becomes poor should involve himself in a profession - even a degrading one - rather than appeal to people at large. It is preferable for a person to skin the hide of animal carcasses,34 rather than tell people: "I am a great sage..." or "I am a priest, grant me sustenance." Our Sages commanded conducting oneself in such a manner.35

There were great sages who were woodchoppers,36 porters of beams,37 water-carriers for gardens,38 and iron-smelters and makers of charcoal,39 but they did not ask anything from the community, nor did they accept gifts that were given to them.

יח

לְעוֹלָם יִדְחֹק אָדָם עַצְמוֹ וְיִתְגַּלְגֵּל בְּצַעַר וְאַל יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת וְאַל יַשְׁלִיךְ עַצְמוֹ עַל הַצִּבּוּר. וְכֵן צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים וְאָמְרוּ עֲשֵׂה שַׁבַּתְּךָ חֹל וְאַל תִּצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה חָכָם וּמְכֻבָּד וְהֶעֱנִי יַעֲסֹק בְּאֻמְּנוּת וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּאֻמְּנוּת מְנֻוֶּלֶת וְלֹא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. מוּטָב לִפְשֹׁט עוֹר בְּהֵמוֹת נְבֵלוֹת וְלֹא יֹאמַר לָעָם חָכָם גָּדוֹל אֲנִי כֹּהֵן אֲנִי פַּרְנְסוּנִי. וּבְכָךְ צִוּוּ חֲכָמִים. גְּדוֹלֵי הַחֲכָמִים הָיוּ מֵהֶם חוֹטְבֵי עֵצִים וְנוֹשְׂאֵי הַקּוֹרוֹת וְשׁוֹאֲבֵי מַיִם לַגִּנּוֹת וְעוֹשֵׂי הַבַּרְזֶל וְהַפֶּחָמִים וְלֹא שָׁאֲלוּ מִן הַצִּבּוּר וְלֹא קִבְּלוּ מֵהֶם כְּשֶׁנָּתְנוּ לָהֶם:

19

Any person who does not need to take [charity] and deceives the people and takes will not reach old age and die until he requires assistance from people at large. He is among those of whom it is said [Jeremiah 17:5]: "Cursed be a person who trusts in mortals."

[Conversely,] anyone who needs to take [charity] and cannot exist unless he takes, e.g., an elderly man, sick, or beset by afflictions, but is proud and does not take is considered as a murderer. He is liable for his soul and all that he has earned through his hardship40 is sin and guilt.41 But anyone who needs to take [charity], but causes himself affliction and temporarily constrains himself and lives a life of difficulty so that he will not overburden the community will not reach old age and die before he provides sustenance for others from his own means. Concerning such a person and those like him, it is stated [ibid.:7]: Blessed be a person who trusts in God."

יט

כָּל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לִטּל וּמְרַמֶּה אֶת הָעָם וְנוֹטֵל אֵינוֹ מֵת מִן הַזִּקְנָה עַד שֶׁיִּצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וַהֲרֵי הוּא בִּכְלַל (ירמיה יז ה) "אָרוּר הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בָּאָדָם". וְכָל מִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִטּל וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִחְיוֹת אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן נוֹטֵל כְּגוֹן זָקֵן אוֹ חוֹלֶה אוֹ בַּעַל יִסּוּרִין וּמֵגִיס דַּעְתּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ נוֹטֵל הֲרֵי זֶה שׁוֹפֵךְ דָּמִים וּמִתְחַיֵּב בְּנַפְשׁוֹ וְאֵין לוֹ בְּצַעֲרוֹ אֶלָּא חַטָּאוֹת וַאֲשָׁמוֹת. וְכָל מִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִטּל וְצִעֵר וְדָחַק אֶת הַשָּׁעָה וְחָיָה חַיֵּי צַעַר כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַטְרִיחַ עַל הַצִּבּוּר אֵינוֹ מֵת מִן הַזִּקְנָה עַד שֶׁיְּפַרְנֵס אֲחֵרִים מִשֶּׁלּוֹ. וְעָלָיו וְעַל כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה נֶאֱמַר (ירמיה יז ז) "בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּה'": סְלִיקוּ לְהוּ הִלְכוֹת מַתְּנוֹת עֲנִיִּים בְּסִיַעְתָּא דִּשְׁמַיָּא

Blessed be the Merciful One who grants assistance.

סליקו להו הלכות מתנות עניים בס"ד:

Footnotes
1.

Similarly, Bava Batra 9a states that charity is equivalent to all the mitzvot.

2.

Similarly, Yevamot 79a mentions deeds of kindness as one of the three distinguishing signs of the Jewish people.

3.

On the contrary, it leads to blessing, as Proverbs 28:27 states: "He who gives to the poor will not lack."

4.

Beitzah 32b states: "Whenever one does not show mercy to the created beings, it can be recognized that he is not from the seed of Abraham our patriarch."

5.

See also the conclusion of Hilchot Avadim.

6.

There is no verse that fits the wording the Rambam quotes. Commentaries have notes that Job 34:28 reads: "He hears the cry of the poor" and Psalms 22:25 states: "And when he cries out to Him, He will listen."

7.

Chagigah 5a states that it is preferable for one not to give charity at all than for him to give in an undesirable manner."

8.

Bava Batra 9b states: "A person who gives a p'rutah to a poor person is granted six blessings, while one who conciliates with him is granted eleven."

The simple meaning of this instruction is to share words of comfort with the poor person, for this can be worth more than money to him. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 249:4), however, interprets it as meaning that one should excuse himself saying that he desires to give, but does not have the means.

9.

The word ma'aseh translated as "work" can also be interpreted as meaning "compel." In that context, the verse can be interpreted as praise for a person who compels a colleague to give charity.

10.

The Siftei Cohen 249:7 states that this is the most preferable way of helping a person.

11.

Before the person has fallen into poverty, his financial position is still viable. Hopefully, with a little bit of assistance, he can rectify his situation and return to prosperity. In that vein, the Sifra (Behar, sec. v) compares it to a person supporting a colleague who is stumbling. Before he falls, one person can hold him up. Once he falls, even five people cannot raise him. Moreover, if a person is given gifts in this way, his self-esteem is not impaired and he does not develop a negative self-image.

12.

I.e., since neither the donor nor the recipient knows the other's identity, there can be no ulterior motive involved.

13.

For in this instance, as well, the person does not know to whom his donation is being given and the recipient does not know who made the donation.

14.

Avodah Zarah 17b gives an example of Rabbi Chananya's faithfulness. He was collecting both for the ordinary charity fund and for the special charity fund for Purim and the money from the two collections became mixed together. To make sure that the poor were not short-changed, he compensated for any possible discrepancy from his own funds.

Tosafot, Bava Batra 10b, states that we do not expect every charity collector to be as righteous as Rabbi Chananya ben Tradyon, but we do expect that he approximate his faithfulness.

15.

Ketubot 67b relates that Mar Ukva would throw a certain amount of money under a poor neighbor's doorstep every day. One day, the poor man desired to see who his benefactor was and when he saw the money, he ran out to the street. Mar Ukva saw him coming and fled, to avoid detection, he entered an oven which though still hot, no longer had fire. When asked to explain his behavior, he said: "It is preferable for a person to cast himself into an oven than to embarrass a colleague in public."

16.

In such an instance, it would not be desirable for a person to distribute his charity himself rather than give it to the charitable fund.

17.

Ketubot, loc. cit., relates that Rabbi Abba would conduct himself in this manner.

18.

In this way, at least the poor person is not humbled by having to ask for the alms.

19.

Giving to a charity box is also sufficient to fulfill this purpose.

20.

According to Kabbalah, charity should not be given before the evening service unless a poor person actually asks for a donation.

21.

Bava Batra 10a relates that Rabbi Eliezer would conduct himself in this manner.

22.

Tzedek, "righteousness," and tzedakah, "charity," share the same root.

23.

Strictly speaking, this refers to children above the age of six (Hilchot Ishut 12:14), for in the Talmudic period, children were able to fend for themselves from that age onward and the parents were no longer obligated to support them. (Today, there are many authorities who require parents to support their children until much more advanced ages.) Ketubot 50a applies the verse (Psalms 106:3): "Happy is he... who performs charity at all times" to a person who supports children of this age.

24.

The mitzvah of honoring one's parents does not require a person to tap his own resources to support them. Instead, he must feed them and clothe them from their resources (Hilchot Mamrim 6:3). The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 251:3) qualifies that this proviso applies only when the parents are in need.

25.

Hence a person may use money that he tithes (ma'aser) for this purpose.

26.

See Chapter 7, Halachah 13, above.

27.

I.e., not only does he provide them with food, he makes them feel part of his household.

28.

The passage from Isaiah concludes: "Then you will delight in God."

29.

Avot 1:5. In his Commentary to the Mishnah, the Rambam mentions the concepts stated here.

30.

The Tur (Yoreh De'ah 251) states that this is considered as giving charity.

31.

In that vein, Avot 2:7 states: "One who increases servants increases theft; one who increases maidservants increases lewdness."

32.

Pesachim 112a.

33.

I.e., restrict your spending even in areas in which the Torah advises that men of means should be lavish. See Hilchot Shabbat 30:7.

34.

An unpleasant and demeaning task.

35.

In general, the Rambam appreciated the positive dimension of earning one's livelihood through one's own efforts and not relying on others. In particular, he felt that this was important for Torah scholars, because a) it is forbidden to derive material benefit from Torah study, and b) by doing so, he disgraces the Torah in the eyes of people at large. Thus he writes (Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10):

Anyone who comes to the conclusion that he should involve himself in Torah study without doing work and derive his livelihood from charity, desecrates [God's] name, dishonors the Torah, extinguishes the light of faith, brings evil upon himself, and forfeits the life of the world to come, for it is forbidden to derive benefit from the words of Torah in this world.

Our Sages declared: 'Whoever benefits from the words of Torah forfeits his life in the world.' Also, they commanded and declared: 'Do not make them a crown to magnify oneself, nor an axe to chop with.' Also, they commanded: "Love work and despise Rabbinic positions" and "All Torah that is not accompanied by work will eventually be nullified and will lead to sin." Ultimately, such a person will steal from others.

See also Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:7 and the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Avot 4:7).

36.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.), the Rambam mentions that Hillel earned his livelihood in this manner. It must be noted that although Yoma 35b describes Hillel as having earned a meager livelihood through physical work, neither it, nor any other known source, explicitly states that Hillel would chop wood.

37.

Gittin 67b states that Rav Sheshet would haul beams. See the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.), where he elaborates on the labor performed by the sages. He apparently had a slightly different version of the Talmud, for he refers to different sages than those mentioned in the standard published text.

38.

Ketubot 105a mentions that Rav Huna was a water-carrier.

39.

Berachot 28b states that Rabbi Yehoshua would work in this capacity.

40.

I.e., the hardship he endured by not accepting charity.

41.

For he should have accepted the charity so that he could live his life in an ordinary manner. If it is a person's lot to receive his livelihood from charity, he should not show false pride and refrain from doing so.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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