Chapter 7ז׳
1 א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לִתֵּן צְדָקָה לָעֲנִיִּים כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁרָאוּי לֶעָנִי. אִם הָיְתָה יַד הַנּוֹתֵן מַשֶּׂגֶת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ח) "פָתֹחַ תִּפְתַּח אֶת יָדְךָ לוֹ" וְנֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לה) "וְהֶחֱזַקְתָּ בּוֹ גֵּר וְתוֹשָׁב וָחַי עִמָּךְ" וְנֶאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לו) "וְחֵי אָחִיךָ עִמָּךְ":

It is a positive mitzvah to give tzedakah to the poor according to what is fitting for the poor person if he has the means to do so, as it is said, (Deut. 15:8) Rather, you must open your hand and lend him sufficient for whatever he needs. And it is said, (Lev. 25:35) [If your kinsman, being in straits, comes under your authority,] and you hold him as though a resident alien, [let him live by your side:] And it is said (Lev. 25:36), [Do not exact from him advance or accrued interest, but fear your God.] Let him live by your side as your kinsman.130See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 67b-68a.

2 ב

וְכָל הָרוֹאֶה עָנִי מְבַקֵּשׁ וְהֶעֱלִים עֵינָיו מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא נָתַן לוֹ צְדָקָה עָבַר בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ז) "לֹא תְאַמֵּץ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְלֹא תִקְפֹּץ אֶת יָדְךָ מֵאָחִיךָ הָאֶבְיוֹן":

Anyone who sees a poor person begging and averts his eyes from him and does not give him tzedakah transgresses a negative mitzvah, as it is said, (Deut. 15:7) [If, however, there is a needy person among you, one of your kinsmen in any of your settlements in the land that the LORD your God is giving you,] do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman.

3 ג

לְפִי מַה שֶּׁחָסֵר הֶעָנִי אַתָּה מְצֻוֶּה לִתֵּן לוֹ. אִם אֵין לוֹ כְּסוּת מְכַסִּים אוֹתוֹ. אִם אֵין לוֹ כְּלֵי בַּיִת קוֹנִין לוֹ. אִם אֵין לוֹ אִשָּׁה מַשִּׂיאִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאִם הָיְתָה אִשָּׁה מַשִּׂיאִין אוֹתָהּ לְאִישׁ. אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה דַּרְכּוֹ שֶׁל זֶה הֶעָנִי לִרְכֹּב עַל הַסּוּס וְעֶבֶד רָץ לְפָנָיו וְהֶעֱנִי וְיָרַד מִנְּכָסָיו קוֹנִין לוֹ סוּס לִרְכֹּב עָלָיו וְעֶבֶד לָרוּץ לְפָנָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו ח) "דֵּי מַחְסֹרוֹ אֲשֶׁר יֶחְסַר לוֹ". וּמְצֻוֶּה אַתָּה לְהַשְׁלִים חֶסְרוֹנוֹ וְאֵין אַתָּה מְצֻוֶּה לְעַשְּׁרוֹ:

One is commanded to give to a poor person according to what he lacks. If he has no clothes, they clothe him. If he has no utensils for a house, they buy [them] for him. If he does not have a wife, they arrange a marriage for him. If [the poor person] is a woman, they arrange a husband for marriage for her. Even if it was the custom of [a person who was rich but is now] a poor person to ride on a horse with a servant running in front of him, and this is a person who fell from his station, they buy him a horse to ride upon and a servant to run in front of him, as it is said, (Deut. 15:8) Sufficient for whatever he needs. You are commanded to fill whatever he lacks, but you are not commanded to make him wealthy.131See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 67b.

4 ד

יָתוֹם שֶׁבָּא לְהַשִּׂיאוֹ אִשָּׁה. שׂוֹכְרִין לוֹ בַּיִת וּמַצִּיעִים לוֹ מִטָּה וְכָל כְּלֵי תַּשְׁמִישׁוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַשִּׂיאִין לוֹ אִשָּׁה:

In the case of an orphan who wants to marry a woman [and lacks the means to do so], [first] they pay for a house for him and arrange for a bed for him and all that he needs for the household, and afterwards they arrange a marriage for him.

5 ה

בָּא הֶעָנִי וְשָׁאַל דֵּי מַחֲסוֹרוֹ וְאֵין יַד הַנּוֹתֵן מַשֶּׂגֶת נוֹתֵן לוֹ כְּפִי הַשָּׂגַת יָדוֹ וְכַמָּה עַד חֲמִישִׁית נְכָסָיו מִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר. וְאֶחָד מֵעֲשָׂרָה בִּנְכָסָיו בֵּינוֹנִי. פָּחוֹת מִכָּאן עַיִן רָעָה. וּלְעוֹלָם לֹא יִמְנַע עַצְמוֹ מִשְּׁלִישִׁית הַשֶּׁקֶל בְּשָׁנָה. וְכָל הַנּוֹתֵן פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה לֹא קִיֵּם מִצְוָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ עָנִי הַמִּתְפַּרְנֵס מִן הַצְּדָקָה חַיָּב לִתֵּן צְדָקָה לְאַחֵר:

If a poor person comes and asks for what is sufficient to fill his needs and one does not have the means to provide it for him, one gives according to his means. How much is this? One-fifth of one's assets is the best possible way, but one-tenth is the usual way. Less than this is a bad sign, and never should one restrain himself from a third of a shekel a year. Anyone who has not given at least this much has not fulfilled the mitzvah.132See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 9a. Even a poor person who lives on tzedakah is obligated to give tzedakah to another.133See Babylonian Talmud Gittin 7b.

6 ו

עָנִי שֶׁאֵין מַכִּירִין אוֹתוֹ וְאָמַר רָעֵב אֲנִי הַאֲכִילוּנִי אֵין בּוֹדְקִין אַחֲרָיו שֶׁמָּא רַמַּאי הוּא אֶלָּא מְפַרְנְסִין אוֹתוֹ מִיָּד. הָיָה עֵרוֹם וְאָמַר כַּסּוּנִי בּוֹדְקִין אַחֲרָיו שֶׁמָּא רַמַּאי הוּא. וְאִם הָיוּ מַכִּירִין אוֹתוֹ מְכַסִּין אוֹתוֹ לְפִי כְּבוֹדוֹ מִיָּד וְאֵין בּוֹדְקִין אַחֲרָיו:

If a poor person who is unknown [in the area] has said, "I am hungry; please feed me," They do not check into his background lest he be an impostor, but rather they feed him immediately. If he was naked and said, "Clothe me," they do check on his background lest he be an impostor, but if they know him, they clothe him according to his honor immediately and they do not check on him.134See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 9a, the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah.

7 ז

מְפַרְנְסִין וּמְכַסִּין עֲנִיֵּי עַכּוּ''ם עִם עֲנִיֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם. וְעָנִי הַמְחַזֵּר עַל הַפְּתָחִים אֵין נִזְקָקִין לוֹ לְמַתָּנָה מְרֻבָּה אֲבָל נוֹתְנִין לוֹ מַתָּנָה מֻעֶטֶת. וְאָסוּר לְהַחֲזִיר אֶת הֶעָנִי שֶׁשָּׁאַל רֵיקָם וַאֲפִלּוּ אַתָּה נוֹתֵן לוֹ גְּרוֹגֶרֶת אַחַת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים עד כא) "אַל יָשֹׁב דַּךְ נִכְלָם":

They provide for and clothe the poor of Gentiles along with the poor of Israel for the sake of peaceful relations.135See Babylonian Talmud Gittin 61a and Bava Batra 9a. And if there is a poor person who goes door to door, they are not obligated to give him a large gift, but rather they give him a small gift. It is forbidden to turn away a poor person who asks empty handed, even if you give him a single dry fig, as it is said, (Psalms 74:21) Let not the downtrodden be turned away disappointed; [let the poor and needy praise Your name].

8 ח

אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין לְעָנִי הָעוֹבֵר מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם מִכִּכָּר אֶחָד הַנִמְכָּר בְּפוּנְדְיוֹן כְּשֶׁהָיוּ הַחִטִּים אַרְבַּע סְאִין בְּסֶלַע וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ כָּל הַמִּדּוֹת. וְאִם לָן נוֹתְנִין לוֹ מַצָּע לִישֹׁן עָלָיו וְכֶסֶת לִתֵּן תַּחַת מְרַאשׁוֹתָיו. וְשֶׁמֶן וְקִטְנִית. וְאִם שָׁבַת נוֹתְנִין לוֹ מְזוֹן שָׁלֹשׁ סְעֵדּוֹת וְשֶׁמֶן וְקִטְנִית וְדָג וְיָרָק. וְאִם הָיוּ מַכִּירִין אוֹתוֹ נוֹתְנִין לוֹ לְפִי כְּבוֹדוֹ:

They may not give to a poor person who goes from place to place less than a loaf of bread which when sold is worth a dupondium when wheat is worth four se'in for a selah, and we have already explained the ways [this is done]. And if he stays overnight, they give him a blanket with which to sleep and a cushion to put under his head, some oil and some beans, and if it is the Sabbath, they give him enough food for three meals and oil, beans, fish, and green herbs. If they know him, they give to him according to his honor.136See Mishnah Péah 8:7.

9 ט

עָנִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לִקַּח צְדָקָה מַעֲרִימִין עָלָיו וְנוֹתְנִין לוֹ לְשֵׁם מַתָּנָה אוֹ לְשֵׁם הַלְוָאָה. וְעָשִׁיר הַמַּרְעִיב אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְעֵינוֹ צָרָה בְּמָמוֹנוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא יִשְׁתֶּה אֵין מַשְׁגִּיחִין בּוֹ:

If a poor person does not want to take tzedakah, they deal subtlety with him and give to him in the name of a gift or a loan, but as for a wealthy person who makes himself go hungry and looks with sorrow on his wealth and will not eat or drink, they do not pay attention to him.137See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 67b.

10 י

מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לִתֵּן צְדָקָה אוֹ שֶׁיִּתֵּן מְעַט מִמַּה שֶּׁרָאוּי לוֹ. בֵּית דִּין כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ וּמַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן מַה שֶּׁאֲמָדוּהוּ לִתֵּן. וְיוֹרְדִין לִנְכָסָיו בְּפָנָיו וְלוֹקְחִין מִמֶּנּוּ מַה שֶּׁרָאוּי לוֹ לִתֵּן. וּמְמַשְׁכְּנִין עַל הַצְּדָקָה וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּעַרְבֵי שַׁבְּתוֹת:

In the case of one who does not want to give tzedakah or who gives less than he should, a court should beat him with blows of chastisement until he gives what they estimate he should. They should bring down his money in front of his face and take from him what he should have given, and they may pawn his property for tzedakah, even if it is on the eve of the Sabbath.138See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 49b and Bava Batra 8b.

11 יא

אָדָם שׁוֹעַ שֶׁהוּא נוֹתֵן צְדָקָה יוֹתֵר מִן הָרָאוּי לוֹ. אוֹ שֶׁמֵּצֵר לְעַצְמוֹ וְנוֹתֵן לַגַּבָּאִים כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִתְבַּיֵּשׁ. אָסוּר לְתָבְעוֹ וְלִגְבּוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ צְדָקָה. וְגַבַּאי שֶׁמַּכְלִימוֹ וְשׁוֹאֵל מִמֶּנּוּ עָתִיד לְהִפָּרַע מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ירמיה ל כ) "וּפָקַדְתִּי עַל כָּל לֹחֲצָיו":

If a man who is in hardship who gives tzedakah more than he should, or who afflicts himself and gives to the collectors so as not to be embarrassed, it is forbidden to make a claim of him or collect tzedakah from him. The collector who shames him and asks [for tzedakah] from him in the future will be punished, as it is said, (Jeremiah 30:20) I will deal with all his oppressors.139For example, see Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 8b, Shabbat 156b and the Introduction.

12 יב

אֵין פּוֹסְקִין צְדָקָה עַל יְתוֹמִים וַאֲפִלּוּ לְפִדְיוֹן שְׁבוּיִים וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהֶם מָמוֹן הַרְבֵּה. וְאִם פָּסַק הַדַּיָּן עֲלֵיהֶם כְּדֵי לָשׂוּם לָהֶן שֵׁם מֻתָּר. גַּבָּאֵי צְדָקָה לוֹקְחִין מִן הַנָּשִׁים וּמִן הָעֲבָדִים וּמִן הַתִּינוֹקוֹת דָּבָר מֻעָט. אֲבָל לֹא דָּבָר מְרֻבֶּה. שֶׁחֶזְקַת הַמְרֻבֶּה גְּנֵבָה אוֹ גֵּזֶל מִשֶּׁל אֲחֵרִים. וְכַמָּה הוּא מֻעָט שֶׁלָּהֶן הַכּל לְפִי עשֶׁר הַבְּעָלִים וַעֲנִיּוּתָן:

They do not take tzedakah from orphans, even for the ransom of captives, even if they have a great deal of money, but a judge may decree such for them for the sake of their reputation. Collectors of tzedakah may take a small amount from women, servants, and children, but they may not take a large amount, [for a large amount may have been the result of] thievery and robbery from others. And what is the small amount they may give? All is according to the wealth of their masters and their poverty.140See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 8b.

13 יג

עָנִי שֶׁהוּא קְרוֹבוֹ קֹדֶם לְכָל אָדָם. עֲנִיֵּי בֵּיתוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ. עֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִיר אַחֶרֶת. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו יא) "לְאָחִיךָ לַעֲנִיֶּךָ וּלְאֶבְיֹנְךָ בְּאַרְצֶךָ":

A poor person who is a relative takes precedence over anyone else. The poor of one's household take precedence over the poor of one's city. The poor of one's city take precedence over the poor of another city, as it is said, (Deut. 15:11) Open your hand to the poor and needy kinsman in your land.141See Babylonian Talmud Bava Metzia 71a. A new principle becomes present here. As opposed to giving agricultural produce, which was on a strict "first-come, first-serve" basis, family and community relationships now dictate the giving of tzedakah.

14 יד

מִי שֶׁהָלַךְ בִּסְחוֹרָה וּפָסְקוּ עָלָיו אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר שֶׁהָלַךְ שָׁם צְדָקָה הֲרֵי זֶה נוֹתֵן לַעֲנִיֵּי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר. וְאִם הָיוּ רַבִּים וּפָסְקוּ עֲלֵיהֶן צְדָקָה נוֹתְנִין וּכְשֶׁבָּאִין מְבִיאִין אוֹתָהּ עִמָּהֶן וּמְפַרְנְסִין בָּהּ עֲנִיֵּי עִירָם. וְאִם יֵשׁ שָׁם חָבֵר עִיר יִתְּנוּהָ לְחָבֵר עִיר וְהוּא מְחַלְּקָהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּרְאֶה לוֹ:

If one engages in trade [and travels between cities] and the authorities of a city exact tzedakah from him when he traveled through [for the needs of the city], then this [money] should be given to the poor of that city. But if there are many [such traders], and the authorities of the city exact tzedakah from them when they come through, then [they pay it in that city, but] they bring it back with them and give it to the poor of their city [of origin].142See Babylonian Talmud Megillah 27a. But if there is a special town scholar, he distributes the tzedakah as he sees fit.

15 טו

הָאוֹמֵר תְּנוּ מָאתַיִם דִּינָר לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹ תְּנוּ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת יִתְּנוּ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת שֶׁהוּא רָגִיל בּוֹ. וְאִם הָיָה רָגִיל בִּשְׁנַיִם יִתְּנוּ לִשְׁנֵיהֶן. הָאוֹמֵר תְּנוּ מָאתַיִם דִּינָרִין לַעֲנִיִּים יִתְּנוּ לַעֲנִיֵּי אוֹתָהּ הָעִיר:

One who says, "Give 200 dinarin for the synagogue" or, "Donate a Torah scroll to the synagogue," they should give to the synagogue which he usually attends. And if he usually attends two [synagogues], then he should give to both of them. If one says, "Give 200 dinarin to the poor," they should give to the poor of that city.143See Tosefta Bava Kama 11:3.