Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Poor 9:3
רמב"ם משנה תורה הלכות מתנות עניים ט:ג
מעולם לא ראינו ולא שמענו בקהל מישראל שאין להן קופה של צדקה
In all of history, we have neither heard of nor seen a Jewish community without an organized tzedakah fund. [translation by Mechon Hadar]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Why would an organized system for collecting and distributing tzedakah be a constitutive element of a community in general? Of a Jewish community in particular?

2. How do you interpret Maimonides' use of precedent in this case?

3. Does this text inform your interpretation of the term "community" as we use it today?

Time Period: Medieval (Geonim through the 16th Century)