OBM Tzedakah - full chronological source list
1 א

(כב) עַשֵּׂר תְּעַשֵּׂר אֵת כָּל תְּבוּאַת זַרְעֶךָ הַיֹּצֵא הַשָּׂדֶה שָׁנָה שָׁנָה.

(22) Thou shalt surely tithe all the increase of thy seed, that which is brought forth in the field year by year.

2 ב

כִּי יִהְיֶה בְךָ אֶבְיוֹן מֵאַחַד אַחֶיךָ בְּאַחַד שְׁעָרֶיךָ בְּאַרְצְךָ אֲשֶׁר ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ לֹא תְאַמֵּץ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְלֹא תִקְפֹּץ אֶת יָדְךָ מֵאָחִיךָ הָאֶבְיוֹן. כִּי פָתֹחַ תִּפְתַּח אֶת יָדְךָ לוֹ וְהַעֲבֵט תַּעֲבִיטֶנּוּ דֵּי מַחְסֹרוֹ אֲשֶׁר יֶחְסַר לוֹ. הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן יִהְיֶה דָבָר עִם לְבָבְךָ בְלִיַּעַל לֵאמֹר קָרְבָה שְׁנַת הַשֶּׁבַע שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה וְרָעָה עֵינְךָ בְּאָחִיךָ הָאֶבְיוֹן וְלֹא תִתֵּן לוֹ וְקָרָא עָלֶיךָ אֶל ה' וְהָיָה בְךָ חֵטְא. נָתוֹן תִּתֵּן לוֹ וְלֹא יֵרַע לְבָבְךָ בְּתִתְּךָ לוֹ כִּי בִּגְלַל הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה יְבָרֶכְךָ ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל מַעֲשֶׂךָ וּבְכֹל מִשְׁלַח יָדֶךָ. כִּי לֹא יֶחְדַּל אֶבְיוֹן מִקֶּרֶב הָאָרֶץ עַל כֵּן אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ לֵאמֹר פָּתֹחַ תִּפְתַּח אֶת יָדְךָ לְאָחִיךָ לַעֲנִיֶּךָ וּלְאֶבְיֹנְךָ בְּאַרְצֶךָ.

If there will be among you a needy person, from one of your brothers in one of your cities, in your land the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, and you shall not close your hand from your needy brother. Rather, you shall open your hand to him, and you shall lend him sufficient for his needs, which he is lacking. Beware, lest there be in your heart an unfaithful thought, saying, "The seventh year, the year of release has approached," and you will begrudge your needy brother and not give him, and he will cry out to the Lord against you, and it will be a sin to you. You shall surely give him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him; for because of this thing the Lord, your God, will bless you in all your work and in all your endeavors. For there will never cease to be needy within the land. Therefore, I command you, saying, you shall surely open your hand to your brother, to your poor one, and to your needy one in your land.

3 ג

(טז) הוא היה אומר, לא עליך המלאכה לגמור, ולא אתה בן חורין לבטל ממנה.

(16) He used to say: It is not up to you to finish the work, but you are not free to abandon it.

4 ד

תניא אם היה עני המחזיר על הפתחים אין נזקקין לו א"ל אין נזקקין לו למתנה מרובה אבל נזקקין לו למתנה מועטת

(1) It was taught in an earlier text: if (the poor person) was going door to door, we are not required to assist him (with charity). (Rav Sama brought up a contrary point) and said to him: When it says we are not required to assist him, it refers to a big gift. However, we are still required to give a small gift.

5 ה

אבותי גנזו במקום שהיד שולטת בו ואני גנזתי במקום שאין היד שולטת בו שנאמר (תהלים פט, טו) צדק ומשפט מכון כסאך

My fathers stored in a place which can be tampered with, but I have stored in a place which cannot be tampered with, as it says, Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne. (Psalms 89,15)

6 ו
(שמות כב, כד) אם כסף תלוה את עמי את העני עמך עמי ונכרי עמי קודם עני ועשיר עני קודם ענייך ועניי עירך ענייך קודמין עניי עירך ועניי עיר אחרת עניי עירך קודמין
(Exodus 22:24) "If you lend my people money, even the poor with you..." My people and strangers, my people have precedence, a poor person and a rich one, the poor have precedence. Your poor and the poor of your city, your poor have precedence, the poor of your city and the poor of another city, the poor of your city have precedence.
7 ז
מפרנסים עניי נכרים עם עניי ישראל ומבקרין חולי נכרים עם חולי ישראל וקוברין מתי נכרים עם מתי ישראל מפני דרכי שלום:
We provide for the gentiles' poor with Israel's poor, we visit gentiles' sick with Israel's sick, and we bury the gentiles' dead with Israel's dead, due to the ways of peace.
8 ח
ורמי דרבי יוסי אדר' יוסי מעיין של בני העיר חייהן וחיי אחרים חייהן קודמין לחיי אחרים בהמתם [ובהמת אחרים בהמתם] קודמת לבהמת אחרים כביסתן וכביסת אחרים כביסתן קודמת לכביסת אחרים חיי אחרים וכביסתן חיי אחרים קודמין לכביסתן

§ The Gemara raises a contradiction between this statement of Rabbi Yosei and another statement of Rabbi Yosei. It was taught in a baraita: In the case of a spring belonging to the residents of a city, if the water was needed for their own lives, i.e., the city’s residents required the spring for drinking water, and it was also needed for the lives of others, their own lives take precedence over the lives of others. Likewise, if the water was needed for their own animals and also for the animals of others, their own animals take precedence over the animals of others. And if the water was needed for their own laundry and also for the laundry of others, their own laundry takes precedence over the laundry of others. However, if the spring water was needed for the lives of others and their own laundry, the lives of others take precedence over their own laundry.

9 ט
רבי יוסי אומר כביסתן קודמת לחיי אחרים השתא כביסה אמר רבי יוסי יש בה צער

Rabbi Yosei disagrees and says: Even their own laundry takes precedence over the lives of others, as the wearing of unlaundered clothes can eventually cause suffering and pose a danger. The Gemara clarifies the difficulty presented by this baraita: Now, if with regard to laundry, Rabbi Yosei said that refraining from laundering one’s clothes involves pain and affliction,

10 י

(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":

(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":

(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:

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

(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:

(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:

(1) 1. It is a positive commandment to give Tzedaka to poor people according to what is appropriate for the recipient if the donor can afford it as it says "You shall surely open your hand to him" and it says "And you shall strengthen the stranger and he shall live among you." And it says "and your brother shall live among you."

(2) 2. Anyone who deliberately ignores a beggar and does not give to him commits a sin as it says "Thou shalt not strengthen thy heart nor tighten thy hand against your poor brother."

(3) 3. You are obligated to give the poor person what he lacks. If he does not have clothing, clothe him. If he does not have furniture, buy him furniture. If he is single, marry him/her off. Even if the poor person used to be extremely rich and ride a horse everywhere and had a slave to run before him, provide that as well as it says "[make up to him] his lack which he lacks." You are commanded to make up what he lacks, but not to enrich him.

(4) 4. With regard to an orphan for whom people are seeking to find a wife for him to marry: First, we rent for him a house, provide for him a bed and all his household necessities and then we seek to find a wife for him to marry.

(5) 5. When a poor person comes and asks for his needs to be met and the giver does not have the financial capacity, he should give him according to his financial capacity. How much? The most desirable way of performing the mitzvah is to give one fifth of one's financial resources. Giving one tenth is an ordinary measure. Giving less [than that] parsimony. A person should refrain from giving less than a third of a shekel a year. A person who gives less than this has not fulfilled the mitzvah. Even a poor person who derives his livelihood from charity is obligated to give charity to another person.

(6) 6. If there is a poor person that you don't know , and he says "I am hungry," you should feed him without ascertaining whether he is being dishonest . Rather you should feed him immediately. If he is unclothed, and he says "clothe me," check to see if he is being dishonest. But if you know him then clothe him immediately ,without checking into him, because it is for his honor (I.e. Dignity).

11 יא
(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 more scrupulous in fulfilling the commandment of tzedakah than any other positive commandment because tzedakah is the sign of the righteous, the seed of Abraham our father, as it is said, “For I know him that he will command his children to do tzedakah.” The throne of Israel and the religion of truth is upheld only through tzedakah, as it is said, “In tzedakah shall you be established” (Isaiah 54:14). Israel is redeemed only through tzedakah, as it is said, “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment and those that return by tzedakah” (Isaiah 1:27)

12 יב

(ז) שמנה מעלות יש בצדקה זו למעלה מזו מעלה גדולה שאין למעלה ממנה זה המחזיק ביד ישראל שמך ונותן לו מתנה או הלואה או עושה עמו שותפות או ממציא לו מלאכה כדי לחזק את ידו עד שלא יצטרך לבריות לשאול.

(ח) פחות מזה הנותן צדקה לעניים ולא ידע למי נתן ולא ידע העני ממי לקח שהרי זו מצוה לשמה.

(ט) פחות מזה שידע הנותן למי יתן ולא ידע העני ממי לקח.

(י) פחות מזה שידע העני ממי נטל ולא ידע הנותן.

(יא) פחות מזה שיתן לו בידו קודם שישאל.

(יב) פחות מזה שיתן לו אחר שישאל.

(יג) פחות מזה שיתן לו פחות מן הראוי בסבר פנים יפות.

(יד) פחות מזה שיתן לו בעצב.

(7) There are eight levels of charity, one above the other. The greatest level that has nothing above it is to strengthen the hand of a Jew who has become poor and give him a gift or loan or create a partnership with him or make up some work for him, so as strengthen his hand until he does not [any longer] need to ask others [for help].

(8) Lower than that is when one gives charity to the poor and does not know to whom he is giving, and the poor person does not know from whom he is taking - since, behold, this is [performance of] the commandment for its own sake.

(9) Lower than that is when the giver knows to whom he is giving, but the poor person does not know from whom he is taking.

(10) Lower than that is when the poor person knows from whom he took and the giver does not know.

(11) Lower than that is when one gives it to him in his hand before he asks.

(12) Lower than that is when he gives it to him after he asks.

(13) Lower than that is when he gives him less than what is fit, [but] with a pleasant demeanor.

(14) Lower than that is when he gives it to him sadly.

13 יג

(יז) מוּטָב לָאָדָם לְהַרְבּוֹת בְּמַתְּנוֹת אֶבְיוֹנִים מִלְּהַרְבּוֹת בִּסְעֻדָּתוֹ וּבְשִׁלּוּחַ מָנוֹת לְרֵעָיו. שֶׁאֵין שָׁם שִׂמְחָה גְּדוֹלָה וּמְפֹאָרָה אֶלָּא לְשַׂמֵּחַ לֵב עֲנִיִּים וִיתוֹמִים וְאַלְמָנוֹת וְגֵרִים. שֶׁהַמְשַׂמֵּחַ לֵב הָאֻמְלָלִים הָאֵלּוּ דּוֹמֶה לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נז-טו) "לְהַחֲיוֹת רוּחַ שְׁפָלִים וּלְהַחֲיוֹת לֵב נִדְכָּאִים":

(17) It is good for people to increase in their gifts to the poor more than they increase in their meal and the gifts that they send to their companions, for there is no greater or more glorious joy than to bring happiness to the hearts of the poor and orphans and widows and strangers, for he who brings happiness to the hearts of these unfortunate people is compared to the Divine Presence, as it says, "To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isaiah 57:15).

14 יד

(ג) זהב וכסף ונחשת. וכנגדן יש צדקות בעולם אותה שאדם עושה כשהוא בריא נחשבת לו כזהב כשהוא חולה ונותן מעכשיו נחשבת לו ככסף כשהוא נותן לאחר המיתה נחשבת לו כנחשת. ד"א זהב כנגד מלכות בבל דכתיב אנת הוא רישא דדהבא. כסף כנגד מלכות פרס דכתיב באותה מלכות ועשרת אלפים ככר כסף. נחשת כנגד מלכות יון הפחותה מכולן. עורות אלים מאדמים כנגד מלכות ארם. ואחר כך שמן למאור כנגד משיח דכתיב ביה ערכתי נר למשיחי:

(3) וזהב וכסף ונחושת, “as well as gold, silver, and copper.” These three elements correspond to the gifts (tzedakah) a person dispenses; when he does so while in perfect health, it is compared to gold, i.e. as if he had handed out gold. If he dispenses charitable gifts while sick, this is accounted for him as if he had given away silver. If he bequeaths money to charity to be dispensed after he has died, it is considered as if he had handed out copper coins.

15 טו

דע, כי האדם נפעל כפי פעלותיו, ולבו וכל מחשבתיו תמיד אחר מעשיו שהוא עוסק בהם אם טוב ואם רע, ואפילו רשע גמור בלבבו וכל יצר מחשבות לבו רק רע כל היום, אם יערה רוחו וישים השתדלותו ועסקו בהתמדה בתורה ובמצות, ואפילו שלא לשם שמים, מיד ינטה אל הטוב, ומתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה, ובכח מעשיו ימית היצר הרע, כי אחרי הפעלות נמשכים הלבבות.

Know, a person is driven by his action, his heart and mind are always drawn after his actions - be they good or bad. Even a completely wicked individual and in his heart is all wickedness, however, if he commits his spirit and put all of his efforts to performance of mitzvot and the study of Torah, even if he does so for a purpose other that the sake of heaven, this person will immediately tip towards the good, and, through the performance of these acts for the non-ideal intentions, he will come to do them in for the highest purposes. It is through the force of action that he will kill the urge to do bad, because - it is action which shapes the heart

16 טז

(א) כָּל אָדָם חַיָּב לִתֵּן צְדָקָה, אֲפִלּוּ, עָנִי הַמִּתְפַּרְנֵס מִן הַצְּדָקָה חַיָּב לִתֵּן מִמַּה שֶּׁיִּתְּנוּ לוֹ. וּמִי שֶׁנּוֹתֵן פָּחוֹת מִמַּה שֶּׁרָאוּי לִתֵּן, בֵּית דִּין כּוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ וּמַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדוּת עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן מַה שֶּׁאֲמָדוּהוּ לִתֵּן, וְיוֹרְדִים לִנְכָסָיו בְּפָנָיו וְלוֹקְחִין מִמֶּנּוּ מַה שֶּׁרָאוּי לוֹ לִתֵּן.

(1) Every person if obligated to give charity, even a pauper who is reliant on charity is obligated to give from what is given to him. One who gives less than what is fit for (him) to give, the court would force him and whip him lashes of rebellion until he gives what they evaluated he should give. They go to his property in his presence and take what is fit for him to give.

17 יז

(א) שִׁעוּר נְתִינָתָהּ, אִם יָדוֹ מַשֶּׂגֶת, יִתֵּן כְּפִי צֹרֶךְ הָעֲנִיִּים. וְאִם אֵין יָדוֹ מַשֶּׂגֶת כָּל כָּךְ, יִתֵּן עַד חֹמֶשׁ נְכָסָיו, מִצְוָה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר; וְאֶחָד מֵעֲשָׂרָה, מִדָּה בֵּינוֹנִית; פָּחוֹת מִכָּאן, עַיִן רָעָה. וְחֹמֶשׁ זֶה שֶׁאָמְרוּ, שָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה מֵהַקֶּרֶן, מִכָּאן וָאֵילָךְ חֹמֶשׁ שֶׁהִרְוִיחַ בְּכָל שָׁנָה. הַגָּה: וְאַל יְבַזְבֵּז אָדָם יוֹתֵר מֵחֹמֶשׁ, שֶׁלֹּא יִצְטָרֵךְ לַבְּרִיּוֹת. (בֵּית יוֹסֵף בְּשֵׁם הַגְּמָרָא פ' נַעֲרָה שֶׁנִּתְפַּתְּתָה) וְדַוְקָא כָּל יְמֵי חַיָּיו, אֲבָל בִּשְׁעַת מוֹתוֹ יָכוֹל אָדָם לִתֵּן צְדָקָה כָּל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה (ג''ז שָׁם פ' מְצִיאַת הָאִשָּׁה וּמַיְתֵי לָהּ רִי''ף וְרֹא''שׁ וְרַ''ן וּמָרְדְּכַי). וְאֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמַּעֲשֵׁר שֶׁלּוֹ דְּבַר מִצְוָה, כְּגוֹן נֵרוֹת לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹ שְׁאָר דְּבַר מִצְוָה, רַק יִתְּנֶנּוּ לַעֲנִיִּים. (מהרי''ל הל' רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה).

(1) The amount one should give [is as follows]. If one can afford it, he should give according to the needs of the poor. If one can not afford so much, he should give up to a fifth of his wealth - that is the best [way of performing] the mitzvah. A medium way is to give a tenth. Less than that is stingy. Giving a fifth that was referred to, means from one's overall assets the first year, and from then on giving one's profits annually. NOTE: "A person should not give more than a fifth so he should not be dependent on others. This is during his lifetime, but when he is about to pass away he can give as much charity as he wishes. A person should not use his charity to perform mitzvot such as [giving] candles to the synagogue etc., but he should give it to the poor."

18 יח

(ג) הַנּוֹתֵן לְבָנָיו וּבְנוֹתָיו הַגְדוֹלִים, שֶׁאֵינוֹ חַיָּב בִּמְזוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם, כְּדֵי לְלַמֵּד אֶת הַבָּנִים תּוֹרָה וּלְהַנְהִיג הַבָּנוֹת בְּדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה, וְכֵן הַנּוֹתֵן מַתָּנוֹת לְאָבִיו וְהֵם צְרִיכִים לָהֶם, הֲרֵי זֶה בִּכְלַל צְדָקָה. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָא שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהַקְדִּימוֹ לַאֲחֵרִים. וַאֲפִלוּ אֵינוֹ בְּנוֹ וְלֹא אָבִיו, אֶלָא קְרוֹבוֹ, צָרִיךְ לְהַקְדִּימוֹ לְכָל אָדָם. וְאָחִיו מֵאָבִיו, קוֹדֵם לְאָחִיו מֵאִמּוֹ. וַעֲנִיֵּי בֵּיתוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ, וַעֲנִיֵּי עִירוֹ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִיר אַחֶרֶת (כ''מ בִּסְמַ''ג וּסְמַ''ק וְטוּר). הַגָּה: וְהַקְּבוּעִים בָּעִיר קְרוּיִים עֲנִיֵּי הָעִיר, וְהֵם קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיִּים אֲחֵרִים הַבָּאִים לְשָׁם מִמְּקוֹמוֹת אֲחֵרִים (טוּר דְּלֹא כר''י בַּר בָּרוּךְ). וְיוֹשְׁבֵי אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל קוֹדְמִין לְיוֹשְׁבֵי חוּצָה לָאָרֶץ. הַגָּה: פַּרְנָסַת עַצְמוֹ קוֹדֶמֶת לְכָל אָדָם, וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב לָתֵת צְדָקָה עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לוֹ פַּרְנָסָתוֹ, וְאַחַר כָּךְ יַקְדִּים פַּרְנָסַת אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, אִם הֵם עֲנִיִּים, וְהֵם קוֹדְמִים לְפַרְנָסַת בָּנָיו. וְאַחַר כָּךְ בָּנָיו, וְהֵם קוֹדְמִים לְאֶחָיו, וְהֵם קוֹדְמִים לִשְׁאָר קְרוֹבִים, וְהַקְּרוֹבִים קוֹדְמִים לִשְׁכֵנָיו, וּשְׁכֵנָיו לְאַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ, וְאַנְשֵׁי עִירוֹ לְעִיר אַחֶרֶת. וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם הָיוּ שְׁבוּיִים וְצָרִיךְ לִפְדּוֹתָן. (הַכֹּל בַּטּוּר).

(3) One who gives his non-minor sons and daughters, whom he is not obligated to feed, in order to teach the sons Torah and to direct the daughters on the straight path, and so one who gives gifts to his father and they need them, behold this is in the category of tzedakah. And not only that, but he is required to give [the relative] precedence over others. And even if it is not his son or father, but a relative, he must give him precedence to all others. And his paternal brother takes precedence over his maternal brother. And the poor of his household take precedence over the poor of his city; and the poor of his city take precedence over the poor of another city. (so is found in the Sma”g and Sma”k and Tur) Gloss: Those who are fixed in a city are called the poor of that city, and they take precedence to other poor people who come there from elsewhere (Tur, unlike R”Y son of Baruch). The residents of Israel take precedence to the residents of the diaspora. Gloss: Supporting himself takes precedence over everyone, and he is not obligated to give tzedakah until he has his own sustenance, and afterwards he prioritizes the support of his father and mother, if they are poor, and they take precedence to sustaining his sons. And afterwards, his sons, and they take precedence to his brothers, and they take precedence to other relatives, and relatives take precedence to neighbors, and neighbors to the people of the city, and the people of his city to the people of another city. And the same is true if they were taken captive and he needed to redeem them (This is all in the Tur)

19 יט

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Tzedakah: The Untranslatable Virtue

But mishpat alone cannot create a good society. To it must be added tzedakah, distributive justice. One can imagine a society which fastidiously observes the rule of law, and yet contains so much inequality that wealth is concentrated into the hands of the few, and many are left without the most basic requirements of a dignified existence. There may be high unemployment and widespread poverty. Some may live in palaces while others go homeless. That is not the kind of order that the Torah contemplates. There must be justice not only in how the law is applied, but also in how the means of existence – wealth as God’s blessing – are distributed. That is tzedakah.

Tzedakah cannot be translated because it joins together two concepts that in other languages are opposites, namely charity and justice. Suppose, for example, that I give someone $100. Either he is entitled to it, or he is not. If he is, then my act is a form of justice. If he is not, it is an act of charity. In English (as with the Latin terms caritas and iustitia) a gesture of charity cannot be an act of justice, nor can an act of justice be described as charity. Tzedakah is therefore an unusual term, because it means both. It arises from the theology of Judaism, which insists on the difference between possession and ownership. Ultimately, all things are owned by God, creator of the world. What we possess, we do not own – we merely hold it in trust for God. The clearest example is the provision in Leviticus: “The land must not be sold permanently because the land is Mine; you are merely strangers and temporary residents in relation to Me” (Leviticus 25:23).

20 כ

Rabbi Zechariah Fendel, The Torah Ethic, p. 278

On one occasion prior to Passover, a man came to Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, the rabbi of Brisk, with an unusual halachic question. “Rabbi”, he asked, “is it permissible for me to drink milk for the ‘Four Cups,’ instead of wine?” “Why do you want to do that?” asked the rabbi. “Is wine bad for your health?” “It’s just that wine is too expensive for me,” the man replied. Whereupon, the rabbi took out some twenty rubles – a large sum of money – and gave it to the man to purchase wine. After the man had left, someone present asked the rabbi why he had given the man such a large sum of money. After all, three or four rubles would have sufficed to buy the necessary wine.

Rabbi Soloveitchik smiled and said, “Think carefully. Obviously, the man is unable to purchase any meat or fowl for the Passover Seder either. Otherwise, how could he even think of using milk for the ‘Four Cups’? I therefore gave him enough to provide for his family’s needs for the entire holiday.”