Pisqa’ 116

Pisqa’ 1161


“For HASHEM your God will bless you as He promised you” (Dt.15:6).

Now, what did He promise you?

“May you be blessed in the city, and blessed in the field” (Dt.28:3). 2

“And you shall extend credit to many nations” (Dt.15:6).

Is it possible to say that

you shall borrow a sela from one nation

and lend a sheqel to another

as do the others ?

The Teaching states:

“Yet you will require no credit” (Dt.15:6).

“And you will dominate many nations” (Dt.15:6)—

is it possible to say that

just as you shall [at times] dominate the others,

the others shall [at times] dominate you,

in accord with what is said:

“And Adoni-bezek said:

seventy kings . . . gathered food from among my table scraps.

As I have done, so has God repaid me” (Jud.1:7).

This is why it is stated:

“But they will not [always] dominate you” (Dt.15:6).


“If there shall be among you” (Dt.15:7)—

but not among the others.

“A pauper” (Dt.15:7)—

the hungriest of the hungry takes precedence.

“From one of your brothers” (Dt.15:7)—

this refers to a patrilineal brother.

When He states:

“From one of your brothers” (Dt.15:7)—

it teaches that the needs of your patrilineal brother

precede the needs of your matrilineal brother.


“In one of your gates” (Dt.15:7)—

the needs of the residents of your city

precede the needs of the residents of another city.


“In your Land” (Dt.15:7)—

the needs of the residents of the Land

precede the needs of those beyond the Land.3

When He states:

“In one of your gates” (Dt,15:7)—

does this imply that if a pauper lived in one place,

you are commanded to support him [from local resources],

but if he collected door-to-door,

you haven’t any obligation toward him?4

“Which HASHEM your God is giving you” (Dt.15:7)—

[responsibility for the needy applies to] all circumstances.


“Do not shut your heart” (Dt.15:8).

There are people who agonize—

to give or not to give?

“Or close your hand” (Dt.15:8).

There are people who extend their hand,

and, then withdraw it and close it.

“Against your needy brother” (Dt.15:8).

If you don’t give him something now,

your destiny is to take alms from him!

How do we know that

if you opened your hand to him once,

you must open it to him even a hundred times?5

The Teaching states:

“Rather open your hand wide to him,

“And gladly extend him credit” (Dt.15:8)

“Open your hand wide (patoakh tiftakh) to him”—

first approach him (petakh lo) with words.

And if he is embarrassed to be in need,

say to him:

Do you need a loan?

On this basis they taught:

alms should be extended like a loan.6

“And gladly extend him credit” (Dt.15:8)—

give him alms first,

and then urge him to put up collateral for a loan:

words of R. Judah.

But sages say:

instruct him to put up collateral

in order to embolden him.7


Sufficient for his needs” (Dt.15:8)—

you’re not commanded to make him rich!


“That are lacking for him” (Dt.15:8)—

even [if his needs are costly], like a horse or slave.


The story is told:

Hillel the Elder once gave

to a pauper from a prominent family

a horse for exercise

and a slave to serve him.


And another story:

it once happened in the Upper Galilee

that they served a guest

a litra’ of meat every day.8


“For him” (Dt.15:8)—

this implies that

his wife [shares in his support].

This is in accord with what is said:

“I will make a partner for him as his counterpart” (Gn.2:18)—

[thus, a wife may benefit from his alms].9

  1. H:161-162; JN1:289-291.
  2. Mechilta Ishmael, paskha’, par.12.
  3. // Mech.ISH, neziqin, par.19, s.v., yisra`’el vegoy
  4. =T. Pe’ah 4:8.
  5. Cf. Piska’ 117.3.
  6. // T. Pe’ah 4:12. F:175, n.8 regards the baraita as an interpolation.
  7. //T. Pe’ah 4:12.
  8. //T. Pe’ah 4:10.
  9. Cf. T. Ket.6:8.