Chapter 10י׳
1 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":

We must be especially careful to observe the mitzvah of tzedakah, more so than any other positive mitzvah, for tzedakah is a sign of the righteous [tzadik] lineage of Abraham, our father, as it is said, (Genesis 18:19) For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity [to keep the way of the LORD] by doing what is just [tzedakah].175See Babylonian Talmud Yevamot 79a. The throne of Israel is established and the religion of truth stands only on tzedakah, as it is said, (Isaiah 54:14) You shall be established through righteousness [tzedek]. And Israel will only be redeemed through tzedakah, as it is said, (Isaiah 1:27) Zion shall be saved in the judgment; her repentant ones, in the retribution [tzedakah].176See Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 139a.

2 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:

Never has anyone become poor by giving to tzedakah, nor has anything bad ever come of it, nor has any harm occurred because of tzedakah, as it is said, (Isaiah 32:17) The work of righteousness [tzedakah] is peace. Anyone who shows compassion, others will show compassion to him, as it is said, (Deut. 13:18) [May God] show you compassion, and let your compassion increase.177This is a play on the text. The original reads, "and in His compassion increase you," that is, God will multiply your descendants. Here, the compassion itself increases. And if someone is cruel and without compassion, then his lineage is suspect, for cruelty is only found among the idolatrous nations, as it is said, (Jer. 50:42) They are cruel, they show no mercy.178See Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 151b. All Israel and all who are associated with them are like brothers, as it is said, (Deut. 14:1) You are children of the LORD your God.179See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 10a and the Introduction. And if a brother does not show compassion for another brother, then who will have compassion for him? And to whom can the poor of Israel look? To the idolatrous nations that hate them and pursue them? They can only look to rely upon their brothers.

3 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":

Anyone who averts his eyes from [the need of] tzedakah is called Belial ["Wickedness"], just as the idolaters worship Belial, and of the idolaters Scripture says, (Deut. 13:14) That some scoundrels [children of Belial] from among you have gone [and subverted the inhabitants of their town] by averting their eyes from [the need of] tzedakah. It says, (Deut. 15:9) Beware lest you harbor a base [belial] thought.180See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 68a. And such a person is called, "wicked," as it is said, (Prov. 12:10) The compassion of the wicked is cruelty. Such a person is called, "a sinner," as it is said, (Deut. 15:9) He will cry out to the LORD against you, and you will incur a sin.181See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 10a. The translation reads, "guilt," but the connection here is through "sin." The Holy One, Blessed Be He, is close to the cries of the poor, as it is said, (Job 34:28) He listens to the cry of the needy.182Maimonides does not quote this exactly. Therefore, one needs to be especially sensitive to their cries, for they [the poor] have a covenant established [between them and God], as it is said, (Exodus 22:26) Therefore, if he cries out to Me, I will pay heed, for I am compassionate.

4 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":

Anyone who gives tzedakah to a poor person with a scowl and causes him to be embarrassed,183Literally: causes his face to fall in shame. even if he gave him a thousand zuz, has destroyed and lost any merit thereby. Rather, one should give cheerfully, with happiness [to do so] and empathy for his plight, as it is said, (Job 30:25) Did I not weep for the unfortunate? Did I not grieve for the needy? And one should speak to him words of comfort and consolation, as it is said, (Job 29:13) [I received the blessing of the lost,] I gladdened the heart of the widow.

5 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":

If a poor person asks of you [to give him something], and you do not have anything in your possession to give to him, comfort him with words.184See Leviticus Rabbah 34:15 as well as Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 9b. It is forbidden to speak harshly to a poor person or to raise your voice in a shout, for his heart is broken and crushed. Thus it says in Scripture, (Psalms 51:19) God, You will not despise a contrite and crushed heart. And it says, (Isaiah 57:15) Reviving the spirits of the lowly, reviving the hearts of the contrite. And woe to anyone who shames a poor person! Woe to him! Rather, let him be like a father to him, in compassion and in words, as it is said, (Job 29:15) I was a father to the needy.

6 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":

One who coerces others to give tzedakah is considered to have performed even a greater deed then the person who actually gives, as it is said, (Isaiah 32:17) For the work of the righteousness [tzedakah] shall be peace, [and the effect of righteousness [tzedakah], calm and confidence forever.]185See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 9a. The first half of the verse refers to the one who gives. The second part of the verse refers to one who coerces others and whose reward is more lasting. Of collectors of tzedakah and similar people it is written, (Daniel 12:3) Those who lead the many to righteousness [matzdiké harabim] will be like the stars [forever and ever].

7 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:

There are eight levels of tzedakah, each one greater than the other. The greatest level, higher than all the rest, is to fortify a fellow Jew and give him a gift, a loan, form with him a partnership, or find work for him, until he is strong enough so that he does not need to ask others [for sustenance]. Of this 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. That is as if to say, "Hold him up," so that he will not fall and be in need.186See Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 63a.

8 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:

One level lower than this is one who gives tzedakah to the poor and does not know to whom he gives, and the poor person does not know from whom he receives.187Maimonides holds the anonymity of both giver and receiver of great importance, but he does not require anonymity at the highest level of giving. This is perhaps because the highest level of giving addresses the source of poverty whereas giving something to a beggar only alleviates a person's temporary need. Preventing poverty is therefore of such importance that anonymity becomes secondary in that instance. This is purely a mitzvah for its own sake, such as the Chamber of Secrets in the Holy Temple, for there the righteous would give in secret [and leave], and the poor, of good background, would sustain themselves from it in secret. Very close to this is one who gives to the kupah of tzedakah, but one should not contribute to the kupah of tzedakah unless one is certain that the one who counts it is trustworthy and wise and behaves competently, as was Rabbi Chanania ben Teradion.188See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 10b and Avodah Zarah 17b. Rabbi Chanania ben Teradion had a reputation for competence and honesty, so he dealt with the collection and distribution of charity funds. He was later tortured and executed by the Romans.

9 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:

One level lower is one who gives tzedakah and the giver knows to whom he gives but the poor person does not know from whom he takes. Such did the great sages who would go in secret and throw money onto the doorways of the poor.189See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 67b. A method such as this one is a good way when the keepers of tzedakah do not behave competently.

10 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:

One level lower is when the poor person knows from whom he takes but the giver does not know to whom he gives. Such was the way of the sages who would tie coins to their garments and would throw the bundle over their shoulder so the poor could come up [behind them] and take [them] without being embarrassed.190See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 67b.

11 יא

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ בְּיָדוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּשְׁאַל:

One level lower is to give to him with one's own hand before he can ask.191It can be assumed that from this point on the situation is one of face to face encounter, handing something to another.

12 יב

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ אַחַר שֶׁיִּשְׁאַל:

One level lower is to give to him after he has asked.

13 יג

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ פָּחוֹת מִן הָרָאוּי בְּסֵבֶר פָּנִים יָפוֹת:

One level lower is to give him less than one should but with kindness.

14 יד

פָּחוֹת מִזֶּה שֶׁיִּתֵּן לוֹ בְּעֶצֶב:

One level lower is to give to him begrudgingly.

15 טו

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

The greatest among the sages used to give a perutah to the poor before every prayer service and only afterwards would they pray, as it is said, (Psalms 17:15) Then I, justified [betzedek], will behold Your face.192See Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 10a.

16 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":

One should give sustenance to one's sons and daughters who have come of age and to whom one is no longer required to give such support so that they may study the testimonies of Torah and to guide one's daughters on an upright path and not become shameful.193See Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 50a. So also one should give sustenance to one's father and mother, for this is essential tzedakah. It is an important principle of tzedakah that a relative takes precedence [over another].194See Babylonian Talmud Bava Metzia 71a. All who give food and drink to the poor and the orphans from his own table can call to God and he will be answered with joy, as it is said, (Isaiah 58:9) Then, when you call, the LORD will answer.

17 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:

The sages commanded that the poor and orphans should be members of one's household instead of servants. It is better to use their services [by employing them] and that the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob benefit from one's property and not the descendants of Ham, for one who increases the number of servants each and every day adds to the sin and iniquity of the world. But if the poor are made members of one's household, each and every hour one adds merit and mitzvot.195See Pirké Avot 1:5, 2:7.

18 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:

One should always strain oneself and endure hardship and not come to depend on others rather than cast oneself onto the community. Thus the sages commanded, "Make your Sabbaths into weekdays rather than come to depend on others."196See Babylonian Talmud Pesachim 112a. Even if one is wise and revered and becomes poor, he should engage in some kind of craft, even a menial one, rather than come to depend on others. Better to stretch leather from carrion than to say, "I am a great sage," [or] "I am a priest: Feed me." Thus have the sages commanded. Great sages were splitters of wood, raisers of beams, drawers of water for gardens, ironworkers, and blacksmiths rather than ask [for their living] from the community or accept anything when they gave to them.

19 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

Anyone who does not need [tzedakah] but deceives people and takes will not reach death in old age without having come to depend upon others [in reality].197See Mishnah Péah 8:9 and Babylonian Talmud Ketubot 68a. For such a one fits the type: (Jer. 17:5) Cursed is he who trusts in man [and does not heed divine providence]. And anyone who needs to take [tzedakah] and cannot live without it unless he takes, such as an elderly person, a sick person, or one who has many afflictions, but whose mind is full of pride and will not take is like one who sheds blood, is guilty of his own death, and gets nothing for his hardship except sins and guilt. But anyone who needs to take and endures hardship, presses himself, and lives a life of hardship so as not to burden the community will not reach death in old age without being able to sustain others from his wealth. Of him and those like him it is written, (Jer. 17:7) Blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
Thus ends, with the help of God, the laws on gifts for the poor.