Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Poor, Chapter 10:1
רמב"ם הלכות מתנות עניים פרק י הלכה א
חייבין אנו להזהר במצות צדקה יותר מכל מצות עשה, שהצדקה סימן לצדיק זרע אברהם אבינו שנאמר כי ידעתיו למען אשר יצוה את בניו לעשות צדקה, ואין כסא ישראל מתכונן ודת האמת עומדת אלא בצדקה שנאמר בצדקה תכונני, ואין ישראל נגאלין אלא בצדקה שנאמר ציון במשפט תפדה ושביה בצדקה.
We are obligated to be careful with regard to the mitzvah of charity to a greater extent than all [other] positive commandments, because charity is an identifying mark for a righteous person, a descendant of Abraham, our patriarch, as [Genesis 18:19] states: "I have known him, because he commands his children... to perform charity." The throne of Israel will not be established, nor will the true faith stand except through charity, as [Isaiah 54:14] states: "You shall be established through righteousness." And Israel will be redeemed solely through charity, as [ibid. 1:27] states: "Zion will be redeemed through judgment and those who return to her through charity." [Translation by Eliyahu Touger]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Why do you think Maimonides is emphasizing the importance of Tzedakah?

2. Do you agree that tzedakah is the most important commandment (mitzvah) of all?

3. What might it mean that “Israel will be redeemed only through Tzedakah”? Do you like/agree with this sentiment?

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