1

It is a positive commandment to give charity to poor Jewish people, as it is said "Open your hand to him."1 And it is said: "That your brother may live with you."2 Anyone who sees a poor person seeking help and ignores him, and does not give him charity, transgresses a prohibitive commandment, as it is said: "Do not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your brother in need."3 [Giving] charity is a characteristic of the descendants of Abraham, as it is said: "For I have a special love for him because he commands his children and his household after him [to preserve the way of Hashem] doing charity and justice."4 And the throne of Israel will be established and the religion of truth confirmed only through charity, as it is said: "Through charity will you be reestablished."5 Greater is he who performs acts of charity than [one who brings] all the sacrifices, as it is said: "Performing acts of charity and justice is more desirable to Hashem than sacrifices."6 The Jewish people will be redeemed only through [the merit of] charity, as it is said: "Zion will be redeemed through justice and its captives through acts of charity."7 A person never becomes poor through giving charity, nor will any evil or harm befall him because of his giving charity, as it is said: Through acts of charity, there will be peace."8 Whoever is merciful with others will be treated with mercy [from Heaven], as it is said: "He [God] will show you mercy; and have compassion upon you and multiply you."9 Anyone who is cruel, causes his lineage to be suspect.10 The Holy One blessed is He, is near to the cry of the poor, as it is said: "He will hear the cry of the poor."11 Therefore one must beware of their anguished cry, for a covenant was made with them, as it is said: "When he cries out to me I will listen, for I am compassionate."12 The Jerusalem Talmud says: The door that doesn't open for the poor will open for the doctor. A person should consider, that he continually requests his sustenance from the Holy One blessed is He; and just as he requests that the Holy One blessed is He, listen to his cry and prayer, so should he listen to the cry of the poor. A person should also consider that [fortune] is a wheel that revolves in the world, and in the end he or his children or his children's children might [have to] accept charity. Let no man think: "Why should I diminish my wealth by giving it to the poor?" For he should know that the money is not his, but rather [it was given to him as] a trust, with which to do the will of the One Who entrusted the funds to him. And this [charity giving] will be his real share from all his toils in this world, As it is written:13 "Your acts of charity shall preceed you [into the World to Come]. Charity voids evil decrees and prolongs life.

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לִתֵּן צְדָקָה לַעֲנִיֵּי יִשְֹרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר פָּתוֹחַ תִּפְתַּח אֶת יָדְךָ לוֹ. וְנֶאֱמַר, וְחֵי אָחִיךָ עִמָּךְ. וְכָל הָרוֹאֶה עָנִי מְבַקֵּשׁ וְהֶעֱלִים עֵינוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא נָתַן לוֹ צְדָקָה, עוֹבֵר בְּלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, לֹא תְאַמֵּץ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְלֹא תִקְפֹּץ אֶת יָדְךָ מֵאָחִיךָ הָאֶבְיוֹן. הַצְּדָקָה היִא סִימָן לְזֶרַע אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֵת בָּנָיו וְגוֹ' לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה. וְאֵין כִּסֵּא יִשְֹרָאֵל מִתְכּוֹנֵן וְדַת הָאֱמֶת עוֹמֶדֶת אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בִּצְדָקָה תִּכּוֹנָנִי. וְגָדוֹל הָעושֶׁה צְדָקָה יוֹתֵר מִכָּל הַקָּרְבָּנוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר עוֹשֶׂה צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט, נִבְחָר לה' מִזָּבַח. וְאֵין יִשְֹרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּצְדָקָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר צִיוֹן בְּמִּשְׁפָּט תִּפָּדֶה וְשָׁבֶיהָ בִּצְדָקָה. לְעוֹלָם אֵין אָדָם מַעֲנִי מִן הַצְּדָקָה, וְאֵין דָּבָר רַע וְלֹא הֶזֵּק בָּא בִשְׁבִיל הַצְּדָקָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְהָיָה מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה שָׁלוֹם. כָּל הַמְרַחֵם, מְרַחֲמִין עָלָיו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְנָתַן לְךָ רַחֲמִים וְרִחַמְךָ וְהִרְבֶּךָ. וְכָל מִי שֶׁהוּא אַכְזָרִי, יֵשׁ לָחוּשׁ לְיִחוּסוֹ. וְהַקָּדושׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא קָרוֹב לְשַׁוְעַת עֲנִיִּים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְצַעֲקַת עֲנִיִים יִשְׁמָע. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ לְהִזָּהֵר בְּצַעֲקָתָם, שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּרִית כְּרוּתָה לָהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְהָיָה כִּי יִצְעַק אֵלַי וְשָׁמַעְתִּי כִּי חַנּוּן אָנִי, וְאָמְרוּ בִּירוּשַׁלְמִי תַּרְעָא דְלָא תִפְתַּח לְעֲנִיָּא תִּפָּתַח לְאַסְיָא. וְיִתֵּן הָאָדָם אֶל לִבּוֹ, שֶׁהוּא מְבַקֵּשׁ כָּל שָׁעָה פַּרְנָסָתוֹ מֵהַקָּדושׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא. וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהוּא מְבַקֵּשׁ מֵהַקָּדושׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יִשְׁמַע שַׁוְעָתוֹ וּתְפִלָּתוֹ, כָּךְ יִשְׁמַע הוּא שַׁוְעַת הָעֲנִייִּם. גַּם יִתֵּן הָאָדָם אֶל לִבּוֹ כִּי גַּלְגַל הוּא הַחוֹזֵר בָּעוֹלָם, וְסוֹף שֶׁיָּבֹא הוּא אוֹ בְּנוֹ אוֹ בֶּן בְּנוֹ לְקַבֵּל צְדָקָה. וְאַל יַעֲלֶה עַל לִבּוֹ לוֹמַר: אֵיךְ אֲחַסֵּר מָמוֹנִי לִתְּנוֹ לַעֲנִיִּים, כִּי יֵשׁ לוֹ לָדַעַת שֶׁאֵין הַמָּמוֹן שֶׁלּוֹ, אֶלָּא פִּקָּדוֹן לַעֲשׂוֹת בּוֹ רְצוֹן הַמַּפְקִיד, וְזֶה חֶלְקוֹ מִכָּל עֲמָלוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, כְּדִכְתִיב וְהָלַךְ לְפָנֶיךָ צִדְקֶךָ. וְהַצְּדָקָה דּוֹחָה גְּזֵרוֹת רָעוֹת וּמוֹסֶפֶת חַיִּים (יורה דעה סִימָן רמ"ז, שַׁבָּת דף קנ"א, ביצה דף ל"ב).

2

Every person must give charity according to his means. Even a poor person who is supported by charity, [must give charity in some situations]. For example, if he has a little money of his own that is not invested, he is permitted to receive charity, since he does not have enough capital to support himself from the profits of the capital; nevertheless, since he does have from what to support himself, he is required to give charity from that which is given to him. Even if he can give only a small amount, he should not refrain from giving it, because his small contribution is as valued as the large contribution of the wealthy person. And so have said our Rabbis of blessed memory. It is said concerning the burnt-offering of an animal, "A fire offering of pleasing savor," and concerning the burnt offering of a fowl [It is also said] "A fire offering of pleasing savor," and concerning the meal offering [it is also said] "A fire offering of pleasing savor." This teaches us that one who does much and one who does little [are equally meritorious] provided his intentions and heart are directed to his Father in heaven.14 However, anyone who has only enough for his own sustenance, is not obligated to give charity, because his own sustenance takes precedence over all others.

ב

כָּל אָדָם חַיָּב לִתֵּן צְדָקָה כְּפִי הַשָּׂגַת יָדוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ עָנִי הַמִתְפַּרְנֵס מִן הַצְּדָקָה, וּכְגוֹן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ מְעַט מָמוֹן שֶׁלּוֹ, וְאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׁא וְנוֹתֵן בָּהֶם, דְּמֻתָּר לוֹ לִטֹּל מִן הַצְּדָקָה. כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין לוֹ קֶרֶן כְּדֵי לְהִתְפַּרְנֵס מִן הָרֶוַח, מִכָּל מָקוֹם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בַּמֶּה לְהִתְפַּרְנֵס, חַיָּב לִתֵּן צְדָקָה מִמַּה שֶּׁיִּתְּנוּ לוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִתֵּן אֶלָּא דָּבָר מֻעָט, אַל יִמְנַע עַצְמוֹ, כִּי הַמְּעַט מִשֶּׁלוֹ חָשׁוּב כְּמוֹ הַרְבֵּה מִן הֶעָשִׁיר. וְכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה נֶאֱמַר בְּעוֹלַת בְּהֵמָה, אִשֵּׁה רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ, וּבְעוֹלַת עוֹף אִשֵּׁה רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ, וּבְמִנְחָה אִשֵּׁה רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחֻ, לוֹמַר לְךָ, אֶחָד הַמַּרְבֶּה וְאֶחָד הַמַּמְעִיט וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיְכַוֵּן לִבּוֹ לְאָבִיו שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם. אֲבָל כָּל שֶׁאֵין לוֹ אֶלָּא דֵּי פַּרְנָסָתוֹ, אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לִתֵּן צְדָקָה דְּפַרְנָסַת עַצְמוֹ קוֹדֶמֶת לְכָל אָדָם (סִימָן רמ"ח רנ"א רנ"ג ומשנה סוֹף מנחות).

3

How much should a poor person be given? A sufficient amount to supply his needs. But this is [said only] for a poor person who receives charity in a discreet manner. It is then incumbent upon the people of the city to supply him with all his needs, in the manner he was accustomed before he became poor; but a poor person who goes begging door to door, should be given a small sum according to his situation. In any event, in every city he should be given bread and food sufficient for two meals, and a place to sleep. We should also support and clothe the non-Jewish poor together with the Jewish poor for the sake of peace[ful relationships].

ג

כַּמָּה נוֹתְנִים לֶעָנִי. דֵּי מַחְסוֹרוֹ אֲשֶׁר יֶחְסַר לוֹ. וְהַיְנוּ בֶּעָנִי שֶׁמְקַבֵּל בַּחֲשַׁאי, מְחֻיָּבִים אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר לִתֵּן לוֹ כָּל מַחְסוֹרוֹ כַּאֲשֶׁר הָיָה רָגִיל מִקֹּדֶם שֶׁהֶעָנִי. אֲבָל עָנִי הַמַּחְזִיר עַל הַפְּתָחִים, נוֹתְנִים לוֹ מַתָּנָה מֻעֶטֶת לְפִי עֶרְכּוֹ. וּלְכָל הַפָּחוֹת יִתְּנוּ לוֹ בְּכָל עִיר לֶחֶם וּמָזוֹן שִׁעוּר בּ' סְעֻדּוֹת וּמָקוֹם לָלוּן. מְפַרְנְסִין וּמַלְבִּישִׁין עֲנִיֵּי עוֹבְדֵי אֱלִילִים עִם עֲנִיֵּי יִשְֹרָאֵל, מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם (ר"נ רנ"א).

4

How much charity should you give? The first year you should give a tenth of the principle; and thereafter, you should give a tenth of the profits you earn each year, [after deducting your household expenses.]15 This is the medial way [of giving charity]. The commandment is fulfilled in its excellence when you give a fifth the first year from the principle, and every year after that a fifth of the profits. You should not give away more than a fifth, so that you will not become dependent on others.16 This rule applies only during your lifetime. But as a dying bequest, you are permitted to [donate] up to a third of your estate to charity. You may not use your ma'aseir [charity] funds for other mitzvah obligations, such as buying candles for the synagogue or other items used for a mitzvah, but you must give it to the poor. If you have the opportunity to perform a mitzvah to help in the circumcision of a child, or to marry off a poor bride and groom, or similar situations; or to purchase Torah texts from which to study, and lend them to others for study; you may use the ma'aseir money if you would not be able to accomplish these deeds with your own money. If you buy Torah texts from ma'aseir money, you must be sure to lend them to others; but if you need them yourself, than your needs come first. You should also be sure to inscribe in them that they are from ma'aseir money, so that possession is not taken of them by your children after you.

ד

כַּמָּה יִתֵּן הָאָדָם צְדָקָה. שָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה הַמַּעֲשֵׂר מִן הַקֶּרֶן. מִכָּאן וָאֵילַךְ יִתֵּן מַעֲשֵׂר מִן הָרֶוַח שֶׁהִרְוִיחַ כָּל שָׁנָה, [חוּץ מִצָּרְכֵי בֵּיתוֹ], זוֹ הִיא מִדָּה בֵּינוֹנִית. וּמִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר שֶׁיִּתֵּן חֹמֶשׁ שָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה מִן הַקֶּרֶן, וְאַחַר כָּךְ כָּל שָׁנָה חֹמֶשׁ מִן הָרֶוַח. וְאַל יְבַזְבֵּז אָדָם יוֹתֵר מִן הַחֹמֶשׁ, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ הוּא אַחַר כָּךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וְדַוְקָא כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו. אֲבָל בִּשְׁעַת מוֹת, יָכוֹל אָדָם לִתֵּן עַד שְׁלִישׁ רְכוּשׁוֹ צְדָקָה. אֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמַּעֲשֵׂר שֶׁלּוֹ דְּבַר מִצְוָה, כְּגוֹן נֵרוֹת לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹ שְׁאָר דְבָרִים לְמִצְוָה, רַק יִתְּנוּהוּ לַעֲנִיִּים. וְאִם נִזְדַּמְּנָה לוֹ מִצְוָה לִהְיוֹת בַּעַל בְּרִית, אוֹ לְהַכְנִיס חָתָן וְכַלָּה עֲנִיִּים לַחֻפָּה וְכַדּוֹמֶה וְכֵן לִקְנֹת סְפָרִים לִלְמֹד בָּהֶם, וּלְהַשְׁאִילָן לַאֲחֵרִים לִלְמוֹד בָּהֶם, אִם לֹא הָיָה יְכֹלֶת בְּיָדוֹ, וְלֹא הָיָה עוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָהּ מִצְוָה מֵמָּמוֹן שֶׁלּוֹ, יָכוֹל לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמַּעֲשֵׂר. אִם קוֹנֶה סְפָרִים מִמְּעוֹת מַעֲשֵׂר, צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר לְהַשְׁאִילָן לַאֲחֵרִים, אִם לֹא כַּאֲשֶׁר הוּא צָרִיךְ לָהֶם, אֲזַי הוּא קוֹדֵם. וְגַם יִזָּהֵר לִכְתּוֹב עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁהֵם מִמְּעוֹת מַעֲשֵׂר, לְמַעַן לֹא יַחְזִיקוּ בָּהֶם בָּנָיו אַחֲרָיו (סִימָן רמ"ח).

5

If you want to gain merit for yourself, supress your evil inclination, and be generous [with your money]; and anything you do for the sake of heaven should be the best and the most beautiful. When you build a house of prayer [synagogue], it should be nicer than your own dwelling. When you feed a hungry person, give him the best and tastiest of your table. When your give clothing to the unclad, clothe him from the best of your clothes. If you consecrate something [for the service of God], consecrate from the best of your possessions, as it is said: "All the fat [prime parts] to Hashem."17

ה

הָרוֹצֶה לְזַכּוֹת לְעַצְמוֹ, יָכוֹף אֶת יִצְרוֹ הָרַע, וְיַרְחִיב יָדוֹ, וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם יִהְיֶה מֵהַטּוֹב וְהַיָּפֶה. אִם בָּנָה בֵּית תְּפִלָּה, יִהְיֶה נָאֶה מִבֵּית יְשִׁיבָתוֹ. הֶאֱכִיל רָעֵב, יַאֲכִילֵהוּ מֵהַטּוֹב וּמֵהַמָּתוֹק שֶׁבְּשֻׁלְחָנוֹ. כִּסָּה עָרֹם, יְכַסֵּהוּ מֵהַיָּפֶה שֶׁבִּכְסוּתוֹ. הִקְדִישׁ דָּבָר, יַקְדִּישׁ מֵהַיָּפֶה שֶׁבִּנְכָסָיו. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר כָּל חֵלֶב לַה' (סִימָן רמ"ח).

6

If you support your grown children whom you are not obligated to support [those over the age of six], in order to teach your sons Torah, and your daughters to lead proper lives, similarly, if you support your father [or mother] (and you are not able to support them except by using your charity money,) and they need this support—this constitutes charity; and what is more, they take precedence over others. Even if it is not a son or a father but only a relative, he takes precedence over anyone else. And the poor person in your your house takes precedence over the poor in your city, and the poor of your city takes precedence over the poor of another city, as it is said: "To your brother, to your poor, to your needy in your land."18 But the treasurer who distributes communal charity, must be careful not to give his relatives more than [he gives] to the other poor people.

ו

הַנּוֹתֵן לְבָנָיו וּבְנוֹתָיו הַגְּדוֹלִים שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם (שֶׁהֵם יוֹתֵר מִבְּנֵי שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים), כְּדֵי לְלַמֵּד אֶת הַבָּנִים תּוֹרָה, וּלְהַנְהִיג אֶת הַבָּנוֹת בְּדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה, וְכֵן הַנּוֹתֵן מַתָּנוֹת לְאָבִיו (שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְפַרְנְסוֹ, רַק מִמְּעוֹת צְדָקָה שֶׁלּוֹ), וְהֵם צְרִיכִים לְכָךְ, הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלָל צְדָקָה. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהַקְדִּימוֹ לַאֲחֵרִים. וַאֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ בְּנוֹ וְלֹא אָבִיו אֶלָּא קְרוֹבוֹ, הוּא קוֹדֵם לְכָל אָדָם. וַעֲנִיֵּי בֵּיתוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ, וַעֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִיר אַחֶרֶת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר לְאָחִיךָ לַעֲנִיֶּךָ וּלְאֶבְיוֹנְךָ בְּאַרְצֶךָ. אֲבָל גַּבַּאי צְדָקָה הַמְחַלֵּק אֶת הַצְּדָקָה, צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא יַרְבֶּה לִקְרוֹבָיו יוֹתֵר מִלִּשְׁאָר עֲנִיִּים (רנ"א רנ"ז).

7

Whoever gives charity to a poor person with an angry countenance, even if he gives a thousand gold pieces, he has forfeited his merit [reward], and he violates the prohibition: "You heart shall not be sorry [when you give him charity]."19 But rather you must give to him with a smiling countenance and with joy, and commiserate with his suffering, as Job said: "Did I not cry for the troubled, was my soul not grieved for the needy."20 And speak to him words of comfort as it is said: "And the heart of the widow, I caused to sing for joy."21

ז

כָּל הַנּוֹתֵן צְדָקָה לֶעָנִי בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים רָעוֹת וּפָנִים כְּבוּשׁוֹת בַּקַּרְקַע. אֲפִלּוּ נָתַן לוֹ אֶלֶף זְהוּבִים, אִבֵּד זְכוּתוֹ וְהִפְסִידָהּ, וְעוֹבֵר עַל וְלֹא יֵרַע לְבָבְךָ וְגוֹ'. אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ לִתֵּן לוֹ בְסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת וּבְשִׂמְחָה, וּמִתְאוֹנֵן עִמּוֹ עַל צָרָתוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָמַר אִיּוֹב אִם לֹא בָכִיתִי לִקְשֵׁה יוֹם, עָגְמָה נַפְשִׁי לָאֶבְיוֹן. וִידַבֵּר לוֹ דִּבְרֵי תַּנְחוּמִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְלֵב אַלְמָנָה אַרְנִין.

8

It is forbidden to turn away a poor person, empty handed, even if you give him only a dried fig [a mere pittance], as it is said: "Let not the oppressed turn back in disgrace."22 And if you have nothing to give him, console him with words. It is forbidden to scold a poor person or to raise your voice to him in a shout, because he is brokenhearted and humbled, as it is said: "A heart that is broken and humbled God does not despise."23 Woe is to him who embarrasses the poor. Rather act towards him like a father, both in [feelings of] compassion and with words, as it is said: "I was a father to the poor."24

ח

אָסוּר לְהַחְזִיר אֶת הֶעָנִי שֶׁשָּׁאַל רֵיקָם. וַאֲפִלּוּ אַתָּה נוֹתֵן לוֹ גְּרוֹגֶרֶת אַחַת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, אַל יָשׂב דַּךְ נִכְלָם. וְאִם אֵין בְּיָדְךָ כְּלוּם מַה לִתֵּן לוֹ, פַּיְסֵהוּ בִּדְבָרִים. וְאָסוּר לִגְעֹר בֶּעָנִי אוֹ לְהַגְבִּיהַּ קוֹלוֹ עָלָיו בִּצְעָקָה, מִפְנֵי שֶׁלִּבּוֹ נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה, וַהֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר לֵב נִשְׁבָּר וְנִדְכֶּה אֱלֹהִים לֹא תִבְזֶה. וְאוֹי לוֹ לְמִי שֶׁהִכְלִים אֵת הֶעָנִי, אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה לוֹ כְּמוֹ אָב, בֵּין בְּרַחֲמִים בֵּין בִּדְבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, אָב אָנֹכִי לָאֶבְיוֹנִים.

9

Charity is in the category of vows. Therefore, if you say, "I will donate money to charity" or "this coin is charity" you must immediately give it to the poor, and if you delay [giving it to them] you are in violation of the commandment, "You must not delay,"25 because you could have given it immediately. If there are no poor people available, you may set the money aside until you find some poor people. If you pledge charity in the synagogue which is to be entrusted to the treasurer, you are not in violation26 until the treasurer demands the money. Then [if you do not give it] you are immediately in violation; unless you know that he doesn't need the money for immediate [distribution] but will merely hold it in his possession.

ט

הַצְּדָקָה הֲרֵי הִיא בִּכְלַל הַנְּדָרִים (וְעַיֵּן לְקַמָּן סִימָן ס"ז סָעִיף ג') לְפִיכָךְ הָאוֹמֵר, הֲרֵי עָלַי סֶלַע לִצְדָקָה אוֹ הֲרֵי סֶלַע זוֹ צְדָקָה, חַיָּב לִתְּנָהּ לַעֲנִיִּים מִיָּד. וְאִם אֵחַר עוֹבֵר בְּבַל תְּאַחֵר, כֵּיוָן שֶׁיָּכוֹל לִתְּנָהּ מִיָּד. וְאִם אֵין עֲנִיִּים מְצוּיִים לוֹ, מַפְרִישׁ וּמַנִּיחַ עַד שֶׁיִּמְצָא עֲנִיִּים. וְאִם נָדַר בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת צְדָקָה שֶׁנּוֹתְנִים לִידֵי הַגַּבַּאי, אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר עַד שֶׁיִתְבַּע אוֹתוֹ הַגַּבַּאי וְאָז עוֹבֵר עָלֶיהָ מִיָּד, וְאִם לֹא כְּשֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהַגַּבַּאי אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ כָּעֵת הַמָּעוֹת, אֶלָּא שֶׁיַּנִּיחוֹ אֶצְלוֹ.

10

If you say, "I will give charity to a specific person," you are not in violation [of your vow] until that poor person comes. Every person has the right to set aside money for charity, keep it in his possession, and distribute it a little at a time as he sees fit.

י

מִי שֶׁאָמַר: אֶתֵּן סֶלַע צְדָקָה לִפְלוֹנִי, אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר עַד שֶׁיָּבֹא אוֹתוֹ עָנִי. וְיָכוֹל כָּל אָדָם לְהַפְרִישׁ מָעוֹת לִצְדָקָה, שֶׁיִהְיוּ מֻנָּחִים אֶצְלוֹ לְחַלְּקָם בִּמְעַט מְעַט, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה לוֹ (רנ"ז).

11

If you persuade others to give charity and you motivate them, your reward is greater than the giver, as it is said: "And the work[er] of charity will be [rewarded with] peace."27 And about the treasurers of charity, and others like them who collect charity, it is said: "Those who cause others to be righteous [shall shine] as the stars."28 And the treasurer of charity who is insulted by the poor, should not be concerned, for on account of this, his reward is even greater.

יא

הַכּוֹפֶה אֲחֵרִים שֶׁיִּתְּנוּ צְדָקָה וּמְעַשֶּׂה אוֹתָן, שְׂכָרוֹ גָּדוֹל מִשְּׂכַר הַנּוֹתֵן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וְהָיָה מַעֲשֵׂה הַצְּדָקָה שָׁלוֹם. וְעַל גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם שֶׁגּוֹבִים אֶת הַצְּדָקָה, נֶאֱמַר וּמַצְדִּיקֵי הָרַבִּים כְּכוֹכָבִים. וְגַבָּאֵי צְדָקָה שֶׁהָעֲנִיִּים מְחָרְפִים אוֹתוֹ, אֵין לוֹ לָחוּשׁ. כִּי עַל יְדֵי זֶה, זְכוּתוֹ יוֹתֵר גָּדוֹל.

12

The highest form above which there is none higher, in the level of giving charity, is to support a Jew who is in bad financial circumstances, before he becomes totally impoverished. [Such aid may be rendered] —by giving him an appropriate gift in a dignified manner, or lending him money, or entering into a partnership with him, or helping him find a business venture, or craft, to strengthen his position so that he does not become dependent on people. Concerning this it is said: "Strengthen him"29 which means, support him so that he does not fall.

יב

הַמַּעֲלָה הַגְּדוֹלָה שֶׁאֵין לְמַעְלָה הֵימֶנָּהּ בְּמַעֲלוֹת הַצְּדָקָה, הִיא הַמַּחְזִיק בְּיַד יִשְֹרָאֵל הַמָּךְ וּמַטָּה יָדוֹ, קֹדֶם שֶׁהֶעֱנִי לְגַמְרֵי, שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ מַתָּנָה הֲגוּנָה בְּדֶרֶךְ כָּבוֹד, אוֹ שֶׁיַּלְוֵהוּ מָעוֹת, אוֹ יַעֲשֶׂה עִמּוֹ שֻׁתָּפוּת, אוֹ יַמְצִיא לוֹ אֵיזֶה עֵסֶק אוֹ מְלָאכָה כְּדֵי לְחַזֵּק יָדוֹ, עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר, וְהֶחְזַקְתָּ בוֹ. כְּלוֹמַר הַחְזֵק בּוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִפּוֹל.

13

You should take care to give charity as discreetfully as possible. And if it is possible to give it in such a way that you do not know to who you are giving, and the poor person does not know from whom he is receiving [the charity], this is most commendable. In any event do not glorify yourself with the charity you give; however, if you dedicate something to charity, it is permissible to inscribe your name on it, as a rememberance [memorial]. [In fact] it is advisable to do so.

יג

יֵשׁ לִזָּהֵר לִתֵּן הַצְּדָקָה בְּהֶסְתֵּר בְּכָל מַה שֶּׁאֶפְשָׁר. וְאִם אֶפְשָׁר לִתְּנָהּ בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁהוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְמִי נוֹתְנָהּ, וְגַם הֶעָנִי אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ מִמִּי קִבְּלָהּ טוֹב מְאֹד. וְעַל כָּל פָּנִים לֹא יִתְפָּאֵר הָאָדָם בִּצְּדָקָה שֶׁהוּא נוֹתֵן. אַךְ אִם מַקְדִּישׁ אֵיזֶה דָּבָר לִצְדָקָה, מֻתָּר לוֹ שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב שְׁמוֹ עָלָיו, שֶׁיְהֵא לוֹ לְזִכָּרוֹן. וְרָאוּי לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן (רמ"ט).

14

One has to be especially careful to help a poor Torah scholar, in a dignified manner. And if he refuses to accept [charity], help him in some sort of business—sell him goods cheaply and buy his goods at a high price; and if he [the poor scholar] is capable of engaging in trade, lend him money to use in trade. As our Sages of blessed memory said: "Whoever supplies merchandise to a Torah scholar merits to participate in the heavenly Yeshiva."30 And they said: "All the prophets predictions of good fortune were said only of one who provides business opportunities for a Torah scholar and gives his daughter in marriage to a Torah scholar."31

יד

בְּיוֹתֵר צְרִיכִין לְהַשְׁגִּיחַ עַל תַּלְמִיד חָכָם עָנִי לָתֵת לוֹ לְפִי כְּבוֹדוֹ. וְאִם אֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לְקַבֵּל, מִתְעַסְּקִין לִסְחֹר לוֹ סְחוֹרָה, שֶׁמּוֹכְרִים לוֹ סְחוֹרָה בְּזוֹל וְקוֹנִים מִמֶּנּוּ סְחוֹרָתוֹ בְּיֹקֶר. וְאִם יוֹדֵעַ לְהִתְעַסֵּק בִּפְרַקְמַטְיָא, מַלְוִין לוֹ מָעוֹת לִסְחוֹר בָּהֶם. וְאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, כָּל הַמֵּטִיל מְלַאי לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם, זוֹכֶה וְיוֹשֵׁב בִּישִׁיבָה שֶׁל מַעְלָה. וְאָמְרוּ, כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים לֹא נִתְנַבְּאוּ אֶלָּא לְעושֶׁה פְּרַקְמַטְיָא לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם וּמַשִּׂיא בִּתּוֹ לְתַלְמִיד חָכָם.

15

A person should always avoid taking charity. He should suffer hardship rather than depend on people. And so did our Sages of blessed memory command, "Make your Sabbath like a weekday32 rather than be dependent upon others."33 Even if an honored scholar becomes impoverished, he should find some occupation even a lowly job, rather than depend on people.

טו

לְעוֹלָם יַרְחִיק אָדָם אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִן הַצְּדָקָה, וִיגַלְגֵל עַצְמוֹ בְצַעַר, שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וְכֵן צִוּוּ חֲכָמֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה, עֲשֵׂה שַׁבַּתְּךָ חֹל וְאַל תִּצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה חָכָם מְכֻבָּד וְהֶעֱנִי, יַעֲסֹק בְּאֻמָּנוּת וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּאֻמָּנוּת מְנֻוֶּלֶת, וְאַל יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת.

16

Whoever has no need to take charity, and deceives people and takes, will not die before actually needing charity. Anyone who needs to take [charity], and cannot survive unless he takes [charity], for example, one who is old, sick or suffering, but whose pride doesn't allow him to take [charity], sheds [his own] blood and is liable for his own life, and all he has for his suffering are sins. Anyone who needs [charity] and inflicts himself with suffering and "bides his time," and lives a life of suffering in order not to burden the community, will not die before acquiring the means to support others. And about him it is said: "Blessed is the man who trusts in Hashem.34

טז

כָּל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לִטּוֹל מֵהַצְּדָקָה, וּמְרַמֶּה אֵת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וְנוֹטֵל, אֵינוֹ מֵת עַד שֶׁיִּצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. וְכָל מִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִטּוֹל, וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִחְיוֹת אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יִטּוֹל, כְּגוֹן זָקֵן אוֹ חוֹלֶה אוֹ בַּעַל יִסּוּרִין, וּמֵגִיס דַּעְתּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ נוֹטֵל, הֲרֵי זֶה שׁוֹפֵךְ דָּמִים וּמִתְחַיֵּב בְּנַפְשׁוֹ, וְאֵין לוֹ בְּצַעֲרוֹ אֶלָּא עֲווֹנוֹת וַחֲטָאִים. וְכָל מִי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִטּוֹל וּמְצַעֵר עַצְמוֹ, וְדוֹחֵק אֶת הַשָּׁעָה וְחַי חַיֵּי צַעַר, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַטְרִיחַ עַל הַצִּבּוּר, אֵינוֹ מֵת עַד שֶׁיְפַרְנֵס אֲחֵרִים, וְעָלָיו הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר, בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּה' וְגוֹ' (רנ"ה).