The Mishnah turns to the question of who qualifies as a citizen: How long must one be in the city to be treated like one of the citizens of the city, and so be obligated to help bear these municipal expenses? He must reside there for twelve months. If, however, he bought a house in the city, he is immediately treated like one of the citizens of the city, for he obviously plans to reside there permanently.
This Mishnah states that until one has resided in a city for twelve months he is not required to contribute toward the cost of communal projects.
But the Gemara questions this ruling. And for all things (i.e. all types of communal expenses) do we need to wait twelve months before collecting from a new resident? Is he not required to make any contributions before that time? But it was taught in a Baraisa: - After a new resident has lived in a city for thirty days, the charity collectors can require him to contribute to the communal ‘Platter’, -after he has resided there for three month, they can require him to contribute to the communal ‘charity box’ —after six months of residence, he must contribute for clothing for the poor of the city; -- and after nine months of residence, he must contribute toward the burial of the city’s poor, --and after twelve months he must contribute toward the cost of boards to fortify the gates of the city. We see, therefore, that a new resident must help bear various communal expenses even before his first twelve months have elapsed.
Redeeming captives is a great mitzvah.
The Gemara now discusses the rules for administering two charities mentioned previously in passing: The Rabbis taught in a Baraisa – Contributions to The “CHARITY BOX” ARE COLLECTED BY TWO [PEOPLE] – and the funds ARE DISTRIBUTED to the poor BY THREE PEOPLE. The Baraisa elucidates its ruling: contributions are collected by a delegation of at least two people. – for with respect monetary matters we do not establish an authority over the public consisting of less than two people – and the funds are distributed by a panel of three, - for the distribution of charity funds is treated like a case of monetary law.
The Gemara extols the virtues of charity collectors: - Scripture states, - And the wise will shine like the radiance of the firmament etc…This refers to a judge who renders an absolutely truthful judgment. His virtues will cause him to shine. The Gemara expounds upon the end of the verse: - And those who make the many righteous (will shine) like the stars forever and ever; - This refers to charity collectors, who in the merit of causing the many to be charitable will shine like the stars.
The Gemara presents a different version of the above: It was taught in a Baraisa: - And the wise will shine like the radiance of the firmament –this refers to a judge who renders an absolutely truthful judgment and to charity collectors, -- and those who make the many righteous (will shine) like the stars forever and ever – these are teachers of children.
The Gemara now discusses which applicants for assistance must be investigated. - Rav Huna said: We investigate the eligibility of a pauper that asks for food, but we do not investigate the eligibility of an inadequately dressed pauper that asks for clothing. Rather, we fulfill his request immediately.
Rav Huna offers two sources for his ruling: - If you wish, say that my ruling is established by a Biblical verse, --or if you wish, say that it can be deduced by rational argument. – If you wish, say that it can be deduced by rational argument as follows: This inadequately clothed applicant debases himself by appearing before the charity administrators in his woeful attire. If he were not truly in need, he would not do so. Thus, there is no reason to investigate whether he owns proper clothing. – And this other applicant does not debase himself by merely claiming that he is hungry. Thus, the administrators must investigate whether he is telling the truth.
Interpreting the two verses differently, Rav Yehudah reverses Rav Huna’s ruling: --And Rav Yehudah said: We investigate the eligibility of an inadequately dressed pauper that asks for clothing – but we do not investigate the eligibility of a pauper that asks for food.
Rav Yehudah also offers two sources for his ruling: If you wish say that my ruling can be deduced by rational argument, --and if you wish, say that it is established by a Biblical verse.-If you wish, say that it can be deduced by rational argument as follows: --This one who asks for food is possibly suffering the pangs of hunger, and we should not prolong his suffering while we verify his claim.--But this one who requests clothing does not suffer physically. Hence, he must wait while we authenticate his claim.
The Gemara offers corroborations of Rav Yehudah’s position: - It was taught in a Baraisa like the opinion of Rav Yehudah: --If (a pauper) said, “Clothe me,” – we investigate him to determine if he is truly needy. – If however, he said “Provide me with sustenance,” –we do not investigate.
And Rav Assi also said: -- The commandment of giving charity is equivalent to all the other commandments combined.
R’ Elazar said: The one who causes the performance of charitable deeds is greater than the one who actually performs the deed, since often much effort must be expended to convince others to assist in charitable works.
R’ Elazar adduces support for his statement: -- For it is stated: - And it will be that the act of charity (will bring) peace; and the work of charity (will cause) everlasting tranquility and security.
The Gemara now resumes discussing the merits of giving charity, and quotes the third statement made by R’ Elazar: - R’ Elazar said: One who performs charitable acts in secret is greater than Moses, our teacher.
He must give (charity) without knowing to whom he is giving it, - while (the pauper) takes it without knowing from whom he has taken it. This is the highest level of charity – for a pauper does not feel beholden to an anonymous donor, and a donor cannot develop a patronizing attitude toward an anonymous recipient.
To attain the highest level of charity one must give it without knowing to who he is giving it;
What method will preserve both the dignity of the recipient and the good character of the donor?
The Gemara answers: One should donate to the communal charity purse. With this method the donor and the recipient remain unaware of each other’s identity, for the charity is distributed by the administrators of the charity fund.0
Having mentioned R’ Yitzchak, the Gemara records other statements by him on the subject of charity: --And R’ Yitzchak also said: Anyone who gives even a perutah (a small copper coin) to a pauper—is blessed with six Heavenly blessings. – And one who comforts (a pauper) with words – is blessed with eleven Heavenly blessings.
The Gemara now enumerates the blessings that a comforter receives: - And one who comforts (a pauper) with words is blessed with eleven Heavenly blessings. – For it is stated: -- And if you draw out (from) your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted spirit, - then your light will shine through the darkness, and your gloom will be like the noonday.
The next verse continues to shower blessings on the comforter: - And God will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul (even) in (times of) drought, etc.
The next verse offers more blessings: -- And through you (i.e. your good deeds) the ancient ruins will be rebuilt; you will raise up the foundations of many generations, etc. All these blessings will come to one who comforts the poor with words of kindness and compassion.
Turanus Rufus explained himself allegorically: - I shall illustrate this concept for you with a parable – To what is this matter similar? - It is analogous to the case of a human king who was angry at his servant--and confined (the servant) in prison – and ordered that no one feed him or give him drink—And one man subsequently went and fed (the servant) and gave him drink in defiance of the king’s order. – When the king hears about this man’s actions, is he not angry at (the man)? – And you Jews are called servants of God, - as it says: For unto Me the children of Israel are servants! Hence, by giving charity you actually violate the edict of God, your King, and so incur the judgment of Gehinnom.
R’ Akiva countered with a parable of his own: - R’ Akiva said to (Turanus Rufus): I shall illustrate the situation for you with a different parable. – To what is this matter of giving charity similar? - It is analogous to the case of a human king who was angry at his son and confined (the son) in prison. - and ordered that no one feed him or give him drink. – And one man subsequently went and fed (the son) and gave him drink thereby saving his life.—When the king hears about this man’s actions, does he not send (the man) a gift? –And we Jews are called sons of God, - as it is written. Sons you are to Hashem, your God. Thus although imprisoned in exile, the Jewish people are still God’s children, and one who sustains the poor among them with gifts of charity earns God’s gratitude and is thus absolved from the judgment of Gehinnom.
Chiya bar Rav, from the city of Difti, said to Rav Pappa: Perhaps a pauper came to you and you did not sustain him with a gift of charity. For such indifference one could incur a punishment as severe as that meted out to idolaters. Chiya bar Rav offered support for this explanation: - For it was taught in a Baraisa: R’ Yehoshua Ben Karchah says: IF ANYONE AVERTS HIS EYES FROM GIVING CHARITY - IT IS AS IF HE WORSHIPS IDOLS.
The Gemara quotes another statement by R’Yehudah on the power of charity: (R’ Yehundah) was wont to say: - Ten strong things were created in the world. – A mountain is strong, - but iron cleaves it. - Iron is strong, but fire softens it. – Fire is strong, but water extinguishes it. – Water is strong but clouds bear it. – Clouds are strong but wind scatters them. – Wind is strong but a body bears it. – A body is strong but fear breaks it. – Fear is strong, but wine dispels it. – Wine is strong, but sleep lessens its effect. – And death is stronger than all of these! – Yet the merit of charity saves a person from death, - as it is written: And charity will save from death! Charity has the power to rescue a person from the most powerful force in creation.
When a person gives a perutah (a small coin) to a pauper, he is deserving and receives the Divine presence directly; - for it is stated: - I shall behold Your face through charity; through awakening I shall be sated by Your image.
Munbaz continued – MY FATHERS HOARDED STORES OF MONEY – AND I HAVE HOARDED STORES OF SOULS (i.e. those people whom I have preserved through my gifts of charity), - As it is stated: THE FRUIT OF THE RIGHTEOUS IS A TREE OF LIFE; AND ONE WHO ACQUIRES SOULS IS WISE.
The Mishnah had stated: - AND IF HE BOUGHT A HOUSE IN THE CITY, HE IS IMMEDIATELY TREATED LIKE ONE OF THE CITIZENS OF THE CITY, and must help bear the municipal expenses mentioned in the Mishnah.
The Gemara cites a dissenting view: Our Mishnah, which states that only the purchase of a fully constructed house immediately accords the buyer the status of a citizen, - does not accord with the view of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, - for it was taught in a Baraisa: - Rabban Shion Ben Gamliel says :-- If one purchased even the slightest parcel of land in (the city), - he is treated like one of the citizens of the city. Rabban Shimon maintains that any purchase of real estate – no matter how small – indicates the buyer’s intent to remain in the city – and that it is this intent that qualifies him for citizen status.
The Gemara quotes a conflicting Bariasa: -- But it was taught in another Baraisa: -- Rabban Simon Ben Gamliel says: If one purchased there in the city a parcel of land suitable for constructing a house upon it, -- he is treated like one of the citizens of the city. In this Baraisa Rabban Shimon rules that the purchase of a miniscule parcel of land would not qualify the buyer for citizen status, for there is no indication that he actually intends to reside in the city. Thus, there are two conflicting rulings both attributed to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel.
The Gemara explains: The two Baraisos present the rulings of two Tannaim, -- and each Tanna taught according to the opinion of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel as he understood it.