Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Poor 7:7
מפרנסין ומכסין עניי עכו"ם עם עניי ישראל מפני דרכי שלום, ועני המחזר על הפתחים אין נזקקין לו למתנה מרובה אבל נותנין לו מתנה מועטת, ואסור להחזיר את העני ששאל ריקם ואפילו אתה נותן לו גרוגרת אחת שנאמר אל ישוב דך נכלם.
We support the poor of the gentiles along with the poor of Israel for the sake of “the ways of peace”. A poor person that goes door to door begging need not be given a large gift but is given a small gift. It is prohibited to turn away a poor person empty-handed. Even if one gives only a single dried fig, as it says, “do not let the poor turn away disappointed.” [Translation by Hillel]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Why do you think the Rabbis suggest this specific reason to help the non-Jews, “the ways of peace”? What do you think this phrase might mean?

2. Why do you think this source emphasizes that everyone should be given a small gift? Would it better to concentrate resources on a smaller number of people?

3. What may be the outcome for society of a law obligating us to give even a small amount to everyone who asks? Would you organize a society this way?

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