Monday, July 25, 2005

Laws of Charity IV

Continuing with where we left off in last year's slightly abridged translation of Shulhan Arukh's laws of charity (I, II, III)...

Ch. 251

1. One is not obligated to support or lend money to someone who is an intentional (and frequent--Shakh) sinner in one of the Torah's commandments and has not repented.

Rema: We support the non-Jewish poor with the Jewish poor (and even not with the Jewish poor--Shakh), because of "the ways of peace."

2. One is not allowed to redeem from captivity someone who is a spiteful sinner, even on only one commandment such as eating non-kosher meat when kosher is available.

Rema: However, one may redeem one who sins out of desire if one desires, but there is no obligation to do so.

3. It is considered to be tzedakah to give money to one's over-age children (over the age of six--Shakh) in order to pay for their Torah education for the boys or proper guidance for the girls; similarly, one who gives present to his needy father. Additionally, these poor relatives must have preference over other poor people. Even a relative who is not one's child or parent has preference over others. A brother through one's father has precendence over a brother through one's mother. The poor of one's household have precedence over the city's poor, and the poor of one's city have precedence over the poor of another city.

Rema: Those who are established in the city are considered the poor of the city. They have precedence over the poor who come from other places.

Shulhan Arukh: Those who live in Israel have precedence over those who live outside of Israel. (See this post)

Rema: One's own livelihood takes precedence over other people and one is not obligated to give charity until one has one's own livelihood. After that, one must give precedence to the livelihood of one's parents, if they are poor, and they come before the livelihood of one's children. After one's parents come one's children, who have precedence over one's siblings. The siblings have precedence over other relative, and these other relatives have precedence over neighbors. The neighbors have precedence over the people of one's city, and the people of one's city over the people of another city. This also applies if they are captured and one must redeem them.

4. We obligate a father to feed [i.e. support] his son. Even if the son is and adult, we obligate the father more than other wealthy people in the city.

5. One who gave money to the charity treasurers, neither he nor his heirs have control over the money and the community leaders should do with it as is proper in the eyes of God and man.

Rema: However if, before the money arrives in the hands of the treasurer, the donor vowed to give charity without specifying to whom, we give to his poor relatives because we assume that his intention was to his relatives. However, this is only if he had poor relatives at the time of his vow. But if he had rich relatives who later became poor, we do not give this money to them. This is all speaking about when he donates money alone. However, when he donates money with other residents of the city, he vowed with the intent of following the city's residents and whatever they want to do should be done.

6. One should make the poor members of one's household.

7. One must feed the hungry before clothing the naked.

8. A man and woman who come to ask for food, the women receives preference over the man. Similarly if they come to ask for clothes. Also if a male and female orphan come to receive money for their weddings, we give precedence to the female orphan.

9. If there are many poor people before you and not enough money to support, clothe or redeem all of them, the Cohen has precedence over the Levi, the Levi over the Israel... This is only talking about when they are equal in wisdom but if a mamzer Torah scholar and an ignorant Cohen come before you, the mamzer Torah scholar has precedence (Rema: Even if the scholar requires only clothing while the ignorant one requires even food. And a scholar's wife is considered like a scholar.) Whoever is greater in wisdom has precedence. If one is a greater scholar than one's father or mentor, the father or mentor still have precedence over their greater student/child.

10. One who comes and asks to be fed, we do not investigate him to see if he is deceiving us but, rather, we feed him immediately. If he comes and asks to be clothed, we investigate to see if he is deceiving us. However, if we recognize him then we clothe him immediately.

12. Two poor people who are obligated to give charity, can exchange equivalent money with each other.

13. A community that has to hire a rabbi and a cantor but cannot afford both, if the rabbi is an expert in laws and giving rulings, he has precedence. If not, the cantor has precedence.

Rema: One should not support the city's rabbi from charity money because it is a disgrace to him and to the people of the city. Rather, they should support him from another fund.

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