Trade, Aid & Debt

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"Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his portion, as it says (in Psalms, 128:2),"If you eat of toil of your hands, fortunate are you, and good is to you" - Mishna Avot, 4:1

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A beggar once came to the city of Kovna and collected a large sum of money from the residents. The people of the town soon found out that he was an impostor; he really was a wealthy man. The city council wanted to make an ordinance prohibiting beggars from coming to Kovna to collect money. When R. Yitzchok Elchonon Specter, the Rabbi of Kovna, heard about the proposed ordinance, he came before the council and requested permission to speak. He told them that although he sympathized with them, he had an objection to raise. "Who deceived you, a needy person or a wealthy person?

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In relation to the obligation to pay the costs of saving the life of a sick person who is in danger of dying: From the straightforward reading of Sanhedrin 73a , we see that one is obligated to do everything to save him, and if not, one transgresses the negative commandment: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” (According to my humble opinion, it’s clear that the sick person is obligated afterwards to repay the expenses.) And if we say that the commandment is directed at action, and therefore one is not under an obligation to spend all his money, nevertheless 10 or 20% of his

בענין החיוב לממן את ההוצאות להצלת חייו של חולה מסוכן מפשטות הגמרא בסנהדרין ע"ג ע"א רואים דחייב לעשות הכל להצלתו ואם לאו הוא עובר בלאו של לא תעמוד על דם רעך (לענ"ד פשוט שהחולה עצמו שפיר חייב אח"כ לפרוע לו), ואם נאמר דעל לאו שחיובו מעשה ליכא חיוב לבזבז כל ממונו, מ"מ מעשר או חומש מיהא חייב, ובפרט דמסתבר יותר שלאו זה הרבה יותר חמור ושפיר חייב לבזבז כל ממונו. אך לצערנו נתקלים בזה תמיד ולא עושים כך, ושמעתי שהגאון ר' ישראל מסאלאנט זצ"ל הסתפק הרבה בענין זה.

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The charity that is given from the more fortunate to the less fortunate establishes a relationship between 'giver' and 'receiver' and ultimately reveals a deep bond between the two 'owners'—the person who gives it away and the person who now has it in their possession. Tzedakah is generally the Hebrew word used for charity, though literally translated it means 'doing what is right.' Clearly, there is a marked distinction between giving charity and doing what is right.

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Globalization, writes Zygmunt Bauman, “divides as much as it unites...What appears as globalization for some means localization for others; signaling a new freedom for some, upon many others it descends as an uninvited and cruel fate” (Bauman 1998: 2). There can be no doubt that some of the economic surplus of the advanced economies of the world should be invested in developing countries to help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, ensure universal education, combat treatable disease, reduce infant mortality, improve work conditions, and reconstruct failing economies.

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So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence. To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent — if not an inappropriate — response.

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(Commenting on Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg’s permission to use money designated for the poor to purchase books for study or to be lent to others.) One can say that he permits this because the books will be lent for study to those who need them, and anyone who needs these books is considered poor, insofar as this person lacks them.

וזה שמתיר במהר"ם שם לקנות מהכסף גם ספרים ללמוד בהם ולהשאילן לאחרים, יש לומר דהוא זה גם כן מפני שישאילם לנצרכים ללמוד בהם שכל הנצרך להם עני הוא בחסר לו זה והר"ז כמספק לו מזון רוחני שאין זה גרוע ממספק מזון גשמי לחסר לו . . . וראי' להאמור יש להביא מדברי ספר בית דינו של שלמה חיו"ד סי' א' שכותב דאבל לקנות ספרים לבני עניים זה ודאי דבא מן המעשר, שכ"כ הרב שכה"ג עיי"ש. והיינו מפני שהמצאת מזון רוחני לעניים ג"כ לנתינת צדקה תחשב וכנ"ז

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One should not spill their well water as long as there are others who need it. [Translation by Big Green Jewish. Edited for gender neutrality]

לא ישפוך אדם מי בורו ואחרים צריכים להם

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One who trusts God is not hampered in his trust by great wealth because he does not rely on it. He sees it as a reserve he has been commanded to make use of under certain specific and temporary circumstances. He does not become arrogant if he remains wealthy, he never reminds anyone he gave money to what he did for him and he never asks compliment for his gratitude. Instead he thanks his Creator for having made him an agent to His kindness.
[Yaakov Feldman translation]

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The Supreme king, who speaks tzedakah, and dons tzedakah and hearkens to the voice of the caller--forever shall God reign!
[Art Scroll translation]

מלך עליון. המדבר צדקה, הלובש צדקה, המאזין צעקה, לעדי עד ימלוך.

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