Sunday, July 25, 2004

Laws of Charity III

Ch. 250

1. How much do we give a poor person? As much as he has lost. If he is hungry, we feed him. If he needs clothes, we clothe him. If he lacks furniture, we buy it for him. Even if he used to have, when he was rich, a horse to ride and a servant to run before him, we provide them to him. And so to each person according to his needs. Some to whom it is appropriate to give bread, we give bread. Dough, we give dough. A bed, we give a bed. Hot bread, we give it to him hot. Cold, cold. To feed him directly in to his mouth, we feed him. If he wishes to marry, we rent a home for him and furnish it, and then pay for his wedding.

Rema: This only applies to a person responsible for communal charity but an individual is not obligated to give a poor person what he has lost. Rather, he must notify the public of this man's need. If the public cannot afford to provide for this poor person only then is the individual obligated to give for all of this man's needs.

2. A poor woman who is ready to marry should be given no less than 50 zuz (Shakh: or whatever amount is appropriate for that time and place) and if more charity money is available then she should receive according to her societal standing.

3. A poor person who collects door-to-door receives only a small amount from the communal charity funds. (Shakh: This also applies to anyone who comes collecting from an individual. One need not give him a large amount.)

4. A traveling poor man receives no less than a specific amount. If he is sleeping over then he is given a pillow and a place to sleep and oil. If he stays for Shabbos, he is given food for three meals, oil, fish and vegetables. If one knows him than one gives him according to his societal standing.

5. If there are many poor people in a town and the rich people say that the poor should collect door-to-door while the average say that the community should support them - each community member according to his means (i.e the rich paying more), the ruling is with the average.

Rema: Because the main obligation to give charity is according to one's wealth. In some places, charity is given as gifts and in some place, as a communal tax. One who gives according to his material blessing is more worthy of future blessing.

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