פִּדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִם מִצְוָה רַבָּה הִיא that redeeming captives is a great mitzva.
אֲמַר לֵיהּ רָבָא לְרַבָּה בַּר מָרִי מְנַָא הָא מִילְּתָא דַאֲמוּר רַבָּנַן דְּפִדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִם מִצְוָה רַבָּה הִיא אֲמַר לֵיהּ דִּכְתִיב וְהָיָה כִּי יֹאמְרוּ אֵלֶיךָ אָנָה נֵצֵא וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵיהֶם כֹּה אָמַר ה׳ אֲשֶׁר לַמָּוֶת לַמָּוֶת וַאֲשֶׁר לַחֶרֶב לַחֶרֶב וַאֲשֶׁר לָרָעָב לָרָעָב וַאֲשֶׁר לַשְּׁבִי לַשֶּׁבִי וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן כׇּל הַמְאוּחָר בְּפָסוּק זֶה קָשֶׁה מֵחֲבֵירוֹ Rava said to Rabba bar Mari: Concerning this matter that the Sages stated, that redeeming captives is a great mitzva, from where is it derived? Rabba bar Mari said to him: As it is written: “And it shall come to pass, when they say to you: To where shall we depart? Then you shall tell them: So says the Lord: Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for famine, to famine; and such as are for captivity, to captivity” (Jeremiah 15:2). And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Whichever punishment is written later in this verse is more severe than the one before it.
חֶרֶב קָשָׁה מִמָּוֶת אִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא קְרָא וְאִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא סְבָרָא אִי בָּעֵית אֵימָא סְבָרָא הַאי קָא מִינַּוַּול וְהַאי לָא קָא מִינַּוַּול וְאִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא קְרָא יָקָר בְּעֵינֵי ה׳ הַמָּוְתָה לַחֲסִידָיו Rabbi Yoḥanan explains: The sword is worse than death. If you wish, say that this is learned from a verse; if you wish, say instead that it is derived by way of logical reasoning. If you wish, say that this is derived by way of logical reasoning: This punishment, i.e., death by sword, mutilates the body, but that punishment, i.e., natural death, does not mutilate it. And if you wish, say that the fact that the sword is worse than death is learned from a verse: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His pious ones” (Psalms 116:15).
רָעָב קָשֶׁה מֵחֶרֶב אִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא סְבָרָא הַאי קָא מִצְטַעַר וְהַאי לָא קָא מִצְטַעַר אִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא קְרָא טוֹבִים הָיוּ חַלְלֵי חֶרֶב מֵחַלְלֵי רָעָב שֶׁבִי [קָשֶׁה מִכּוּלָּם] דְּכוּלְּהוּ אִיתַנְהוּ בֵּיהּ: Famine is worse than the sword. If you wish, say that this is derived by way of logical reasoning: This one, who dies of famine, suffers greatly before departing from this world, but that one, who dies by the sword, does not suffer. If you wish, say instead that the fact that famine is worse than the sword is learned from a verse: “More fortunate were the victims of the sword than the victims of famine” (Lamentations 4:9). And captivity is worse than all of them, as it includes all of them, i.e., famine, the sword, and death.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן קוּפָּה שֶׁל צְדָקָה נִגְבֵּית בִּשְׁנַיִם וּמִתְחַלֶּקֶת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה נִגְבֵּית בִּשְׁנַיִם שֶׁאֵין עוֹשִׂים שְׂרָרוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁנַיִם וּמִתְחַלֶּקֶת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה כְּדִינֵי מָמוֹנוֹת § In connection with the previous discussion concerning charity distribution, the Gemara cites a baraita in which the Sages taught: Money for the charity fund is collected by two people and distributed by three people. It is collected by two people because one does not appoint an authority over the community composed of fewer than two people. And it is distributed by three people, like the number of judges needed in cases of monetary law, since the distributors determine who receives money and who does not, as well as how much each person receives.
תַּמְחוּי נִגְבֵּית בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה וּמִתְחַלֶּקֶת בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה שֶׁגִּבּוּיָהּ וְחִלּוּקָהּ שָׁוִים תַּמְחוּי בְּכׇל יוֹם קוּפָּה מֵעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת לְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת Food for the charity platter is collected by three people and distributed by three people because its collection and its distribution take place on the same day. Food for the charity platter is collected and distributed every day, and therefore a third individual must participate in the collection so that he will be available to take part in the distribution without delay; whereas the money of the charity fund is distributed only once a week, on each Shabbat eve.
תַּמְחוּי לַעֲנִיֵּי עוֹלָם קוּפָּה לַעֲנִיֵּי הָעִיר וְרַשָּׁאִים בְּנֵי הָעִיר לַעֲשׂוֹת קוּפָּה תַּמְחוּי וְתַמְחוּי קוּפָּה וּלְשַׁנּוֹתָהּ לְכׇל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצוּ There are additional differences between these two types of charity operations: The food from the charity platter is distributed to the poor of the world, meaning, to any poor individual arriving in the city; the money of the charity fund is allocated exclusively to the poor of the city. But it is permitted for the residents of the city to use money that has been collected for the charity fund to purchase food for the charity platter to feed the poor; and similarly they may use food that had been collected for the charity platter for the charity fund. In general, it is permitted for them to change the purpose toward which charity will be used to whatever they want, in accordance with the needs of the community.
וְרַשָּׁאִין בְּנֵי הָעִיר לְהַתְנוֹת עַל הַמִּדּוֹת וְעַל הַשְּׁעָרִים וְעַל שְׂכַר פּוֹעֲלִים וּלְהַסִּיעַ עַל קִיצָתָן Similarly, it is permitted for the residents of the city to set the measures used in that city, the prices set for products sold there, and the wages paid to its workers, and to fine people for violating their specifications, in order to enforce observance of these halakhot. This marks the end of the baraita, the details of which the Gemara proceeds to analyze.
אָמַר מָר אֵין עוֹשִׂין שְׂרָרוֹת עַל הַצִּבּוּר פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁנַיִם מְנָא הָנֵי מִילֵּי אָמַר רַב נַחְמָן אָמַר קְרָא וְהֵם יִקְחוּ אֶת הַזָּהָב וְגוֹ׳ The Master said in the baraita: One does not appoint an authority over the community composed of fewer than two people. The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived? Rav Naḥman says that this is derived from a verse referring to those engaged in building the Tabernacle and weaving the priestly vestments, who received the community’s donations. The verse states: “And they shall take the gold, and the sky-blue wool, and the purple wool” (Exodus 28:5). The plural “they” indicates that the collection must be performed by two people.
שְׂרָרוֹת הוּא דְּלָא עָבְדִי הָא הֵימוֹנֵי מְהֵימַן מְסַיַּיע לֵיהּ לְרַבִּי חֲנִינָא דְּאָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא מַעֲשֶׂה וּמִינָּה רַבִּי שְׁנֵי אַחִין עַל הַקּוּפָּה The Gemara comments: The baraita indicates that authority may not be exercised by less than two people, but even a single individual is trusted to be a treasurer. That is, money for the charity fund is collected by two people, not because a single individual is not trusted not to misappropriate the money, but rather because a single individual should not be given authority over the community. This supports the opinion of Rabbi Ḥanina, as Rabbi Ḥanina says: There was an incident where Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi appointed two brothers to administer the charity fund. Even though the brothers were relatives who are not trusted to testify against each other, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was not concerned and he appointed them.
מַאי שְׂרָרוּתָא דְּאָמַר רַב נַחְמָן אָמַר רַבָּה בַּר אֲבוּהּ לְפִי שֶׁמְּמַשְׁכְּנִין עַל הַצְּדָקָה וַאֲפִילּוּ בְּעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת אִינִּי וְהָא כְּתִיב וּפָקַדְתִּי עַל כׇּל לֹחֲצָיו וְאָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק בַּר שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר מָרְתָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְרַב וַאֲפִילּוּ עַל גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה The Gemara asks: What authority is associated with collecting charity? The Gemara answers: As Rav Naḥman says that Rabba bar Avuh says: Because they can seize collateral for the charity; i.e., they can collect charity by force, and even on Shabbat eve, when people are busy and might claim that they have no time or money. The Gemara objects: Is that so? But isn’t it written: “I will punish all that oppress them” (Jeremiah 30:20), and Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Shmuel bar Marta says in the name of Rav: And punishment will be meted out even to charity collectors? If charity collectors are permitted to force people to contribute charity, why are they counted among Israel’s oppressors?
לָא קַשְׁיָא הָא דַּאֲמִיד הָא דְּלָא אֲמִיד כִּי הָא דְּרָבָא אַכְפְּיֵהּ לְרַב נָתָן בַּר אַמֵּי וּשְׁקַיל מִינֵּיהּ אַרְבַּע מְאָה זוּזֵי לִצְדָקָה The Gemara answers: This is not difficult. This, Rabbi Naḥman’s statement, applies when the contributor is rich, in which case the collectors may seize money from him even by force. That, Rabbi Yitzḥak’s statement, applies when he is not rich, in which case the collectors who take money from him by force are termed oppressors of Israel. This right to force contributions from the rich is like what occurred in the incident in which Rava compelled Rav Natan bar Ami and took four hundred dinars from him for charity.
וְהַמַּשְׂכִּלִים יַזְהִרוּ כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ וְגוֹ׳ הַמַּשְׂכִּלִים יַזְהִרוּ כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ זֶה דַּיָּין שֶׁדָּן דִּין אֱמֶת לַאֲמִתּוֹ וּמַצְדִּיקֵי הָרַבִּים כַּכּוֹכָבִים לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד אֵלּוּ גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה Having raised the issue of charity collection, the Gemara cites various rabbinic expositions with regard to the matter. The verse states: “And they who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and they who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). “And they who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament”; this is a judge who judges an absolutely true judgment, as his wisdom and understanding lead him to a correct judgment. “And they who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever”; these are the charity collectors, who facilitate the giving of charity.
בְּמַתְנִיתָא תָּנָא וְהַמַּשְׂכִּלִים יַזְהִרוּ כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ זֶה דַּיָּין שֶׁדָּן דִּין אֱמֶת לַאֲמִתּוֹ וְגַבָּאֵי צְדָקָה וּמַצְדִּיקֵי הָרַבִּים כַּכּוֹכָבִים לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד אֵלּוּ מְלַמְּדֵי תִינוֹקוֹת כְּגוֹן מַאן אָמַר רַב כְּגוֹן רַב שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר שִׁילַת דְּרַב אַשְׁכְּחֵיהּ לְרַב שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר שִׁילַת דַּהֲוָה קָאֵי בְּגִינְּתָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ שְׁבַקְתֵּיהּ לְהֵימָנוּתָךְ אֲמַר לֵיהּ הָא תְּלֵיסַר שְׁנִין דְּלָא חַזְיָא לִי וְהַשְׁתָּא נָמֵי דַּעְתַּאי עִלָּוַיְהוּ It was taught in a baraita: “And they who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament”; this is a judge who judges an absolutely true judgment and also charity collectors. “And they who turn many to righteousness like the stars for ever and ever”; these are schoolteachers. The Gemara asks: Like whom? Certainly not every schoolteacher is worthy of such accolades. Rav said: For example, Rav Shmuel bar Sheilat. As it is told that Rav once found Rav Shmuel bar Sheilat standing in a garden. Rav said to him: Have you abandoned your trust and neglected your students? Rav Shmuel bar Sheilat said to him: It has been thirteen years now that I have not seen my garden, and even now my thoughts are on the children.
וְרַבָּנַן מַאי אָמַר רָבִינָא וְאֹהֲבָיו כְּצֵאת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בִּגְבֻרָתוֹ In light of the praises heaped upon judges, tax collectors, and schoolteachers, the Gemara asks: And what was said about the Sages? Ravina said that about them it is stated: “But let them that love Him be as the sun when it comes out in its might” (Judges 5:31).
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה אֵינָן רַשָּׁאִין לִפְרוֹשׁ זֶה מִזֶּה אֲבָל פּוֹרֵשׁ זֶה לַשַּׁעַר וְזֶה לַחֲנוּת מָצָא מָעוֹת בַּשּׁוּק לֹא יִתְּנֵם בְּתוֹךְ כִּיסוֹ אֶלָּא נוֹתְנָן לְתוֹךְ אַרְנָקִי שֶׁל צְדָקָה וּלִכְשֶׁיָּבֹא לְבֵיתוֹ יִטְּלֵם כַּיּוֹצֵא בּוֹ הָיָה נוֹשֶׁה בַּחֲבֵירוֹ מָנֶה וּפְרָעוֹ בַּשּׁוּק לֹא יִתְּנֶנּוּ לְתוֹךְ כִּיסוֹ אֶלָּא נוֹתְנָן לְתוֹךְ אַרְנָקִי שֶׁל צְדָקָה וּלִכְשֶׁיָּבֹא לְבֵיתוֹ יַטְלֵם The Gemara resumes its discussion of the halakhot of charity collection: The Sages taught in a baraita: Charity collectors may not separate from each other, each one collecting in a different place; but in a place where the two can see each other, one collector may separate from the other, e.g., this one going to the gate of a house and that one going to a store. If a charity collector found coins in the market, he may not put them into his own pocket, but rather he must put them into the charity purse, and then later when he comes home, he may take them from there. This is necessary so that people should not suspect him of taking charity money for himself. Similarly, if the charity collector was owed one hundred dinars by another, and the latter repaid his debt in the market, the collector may not put the money he received into his own pocket, but rather he must put it into the charity purse, and then later when he comes home, he may take it.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם עֲנִיִּים לְחַלֵּק פּוֹרְטִין לַאֲחֵרִים וְאֵין פּוֹרְטִין לְעַצְמָן גַּבָּאֵי תַמְחוּי שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם עֲנִיִּים לְחַלֵּק מוֹכְרִין לַאֲחֵרִים וְאֵין מוֹכְרִין לְעַצְמָן מָעוֹת שֶׁל צְדָקָה אֵין מוֹנִין אוֹתָן שְׁתַּיִם אֶלָּא אַחַת אַחַת The Sages taught in a baraita: Charity collectors who have no poor people to whom they can distribute the money, may exchange [poretin] the money, i.e., exchange the copper coins, which tend to rust, for silver dinars, with other people, but they should not change it by themselves, i.e., with their own coins, to avoid any suspicion of wrongdoing. Likewise, collectors of food for the charity platter who do not have poor people to whom to distribute the food may sell the food to others, but they should not sell it to themselves, for a similar reason. Coins of charity are not counted two by two, but rather one by one, to avoid errors in tallying.
אָמַר אַבָּיֵי מֵרֵישׁ לָא הֲוָה יָתֵיב מָר אַצִּיפֵּי דְּבֵי כְנִישְׁתָּא כֵּיוָן דְּשַׁמְעַהּ לְהָא דְּתַנְיָא וּלְשַׁנּוֹתָהּ לְכׇל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצוּ הֲוָה יָתֵיב אָמַר אַבָּיֵי מֵרֵישׁ הֲוָה עָבֵיד מָר תְּרֵי כִיסֵי חַד לַעֲנִיֵּי דְעָלְמָא וְחַד לַעֲנִיֵּי דְמָתָא כֵּיוָן דְּשַׁמְעַהּ לְהָא דַּאֲמַר לֵיהּ שְׁמוּאֵל לְרַב תַּחְלִיפָא בַּר אַבְדִּימִי עָבֵיד חַד כִּיסָא Abaye said: At first, my Master, Rabba, would not sit on the mats in the synagogue because they had been purchased with charity funds. Once he heard that which is taught in a baraita, that it is permitted for the residents of a city to change the purpose toward which charity will be used to whatever they want, he did sit on them. Abaye said: At first, my Master, Rabba, would make two purses, one for the poor of the rest of the world, and one for the poor of his city. Once he heard what Shmuel said to Rav Taḥalifa bar Avdimi: Make only one purse,