Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The halachic poverty line


The Talmud states that one who has 200 zuz should not accept tzedakah. This figure is based on the assumption that 200 zuz, with the added help of matnot aniyim (the tithes and gifts separated from Israeli produce for the needy) and of the classic year-round kupah and tamchui distributions, would suffice for a year's normal expenses for one person (and a spouse, according to some commentators).

Therefore, in communities without matnot aniyim and without kupah and tamchui, and with different currencies, one would need to calculate the amount needed for a year's normal expenses, and this would be the key figure. One who possesses less than that sum would be justified in accepting tzedakah.

(Tzedakah uMishpat 2:2-5)

Have a great day,

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