To the members of the community of... My beloved, my brethren and friends, who are (to me) as my (own) soul. Behold, I am aware of the hardships of these times, that the means for livelihood have declined, and especially among those known to me from your ranks whose hand has wavered; (they are) without any assistance and support, and they literally borrow in order to eat. May the Lord show them compassion and speedily bring them respite from their straits.

Nonetheless, they are not acting rightly unto their soul according to the reports that they close their hand which all their life long, to this very day, was open to give with a full hand and benevolence towards all essential necessities to satisfy the needs of the innocent destitutes whose eyes are lifted unto us. If, Heaven forfend, we will not have mercy on them, who then will show them compassion? And it is written: "That your brother may live with you!" (The rule) "Your life takes precedence" applies only in the case of "One has a pitcher of water ...", that is, when the same thing is equally essential to both to drink in order to restore their soul from thirst. But when the poor needs bread for the mouths of babes, and wood and clothes against the cold, and the like, then all these take precedence over any fine clothes and family-feasts, meat and fish, and all the delicacies of man and any members of his household. The rule "your life takes precedence" does not apply in such a case, because all these are not really essential to life, as are (the needs) of the poor, to make them truly equal, as mentioned in Nedarim, folio 80.

Now, (all) this is according to the strict measure of the law. In fact, however, even in the case where such reasoning does not apply, it behoves everyone not to be particular in insisting on the law, but to set aside his own life and to go far beyond the measure of the law. One should be concerned, for his own sake, with the statement of our sages, of blessed memory, that he who is exacting in a matter "Will eventually be brought to it," Heaven forfend. And, after all, all of us need, at all times, the mercies of Heaven, which are (elicited) only through an arousal from below, by arousing at all times, and every moment, our compassion for those who are in need of compassion. But he who hardens his heart and suppresses his compassion [for whatever reason there may be], he causes the same above— to suppress .... Heaven forfend.

(One should especially consider that) after all "There is not a righteous person upon earth that does good— always— and does not sin," and charity atones and protects against misfortune ... (Charity) thus is an actual cure for the body and soul, with respect to which— "Skin for skin, and all that a man has he will give for his nefesh"

This applies especially as we are believers, the descendants of believers (in the fact) that charity is naught but a loan to the Holy One, blessed is He, as it is written: "He who is gracious unto the poor, lends unto the Lord, and He will repay him his good deed"— manifold, in this world. For none of the commandments is the reward given in this world except for charity, because it is beneficial to the creatures, as mentioned at the end of the first chapter of Kidushin.

Also, one should be concerned about punishment, Heaven forfend, when one's companions are associated for the sake of a Mitzvah (commandment) and he is not associated with them, as known from the words of our sages, of blessed memory. But it will be well with those who give heed, and upon them shall come the blessing of goodness— "of the best of all things." Do good, O Lord, unto the good and the upright, as is their wish and the wish of he who seeks their welfare, from the whole heart and soul.