Question:

Dear Rav,
Why is it that in the rest of the year, there’s an inyan to give goyim tzedakah mipnei darke shalom (verachamav al kol maasav) but on Purim, the most joyous time of the Mishnah Berurah says that if there was no previous minhag to give tzedakah to goyim, we shouldn’t? The Tur even uses a lashon that nobody else should share in our simchah? This bothers me!
Thank you very much and A Freilichen Purim!

Answer:

I’m sorry to hear that this bothers you, let me explain. There is no positive inyan to give tzedakah to goyim, and your tzedakah should be going to Jews, as the old saying goes, chesed starts at home. We have an obligation to support our family, and they are the Jews, before we support the rest of the world. The halacha says that we can also give to the gentiles, because otherwise it will cause animosity, (see Rambam Matnas Ayiyim 7-7, Rema Y:D 251-1). It is true that we should be compassionate to everyone, but we also have to make sure that we keep our priorities straight.

The Mishna Berura you are referring to is in 694-10, regarding the halacha that on Purim we give to people that request tzedakah even if we don’t know if they are indeed needy or not. Regarding this idea if the city does have a specific custom to give to gentiles on Purim even without checking if they are needy or not, the Shulchan Aruch says if there is no established custom to do so, we are not obligated to, and the Mishna Berura explains because we are then taking away from what will be given to Jews. (Again the same idea, that chesed starts at home, and those closer to us get first.) He gives a second reason because we might think that we can be yotza matanos levyonim to a gentile, when we can’t. As a side point see Sharei Tzion there that if this will cause animosity that it is permitted to the gentile as well, similar to giving regular tzedakah.

Regarding the Tur, Please see Tur 694, who says that part of not being particular when giving out money on Purim includes gentiles. I didn’t see the lashon that you are quoting.

A fleilichin Purim

Tags: gentiles matanos la'evyonim tzedakah

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4 Responses to “Tzedakah to Goyim on Purim”

  1. Hi, this is the asker of the question,
    The din of Kedimah (“Charity Begins At Home”) just states that your main monteary contributions should be to klal yisrael but not that there should be none to goyim? It’s hard to say that you can’t give any tzedakah to goyim if any single yid in the world is impoverished!
    Thank You

    • What was meant by “chesed begins at home” is that we are obligated to concern ourselves with those closet to us first. I never said that Jews have a kedima (priority) over gentiles, in the sense that poor people of ones city have priority to those outside of his city. Regarding our charity, all of our charity is supposed to be given to poor Jews. We are commanded to support our “family”. The Shulchan Aruch states clearly that we are only giving charity to gentiles in order to “keep the peace”, but it isn’t l’chatchila. When you find the world without any Jews that need money let me know.

  2. This is from dinonline’s answer on April 4, 2014:

    The Gemara and Shulchan Aruch rule that we give charity even to regular non-Jews (and even to idolaters), and according to the Rambam this is a principle of emulating the ways of Hashem. In this case there is also a moral obligation to help out the person in question.

    This will not, however, fulfill the custom of maaser (see here).

    Best wishes.

    Sources:

    See Gittin 61a; Yoreh De’ah 251 (one gives charity to non-Jews and Jews together). For the rationale, see Rashi; according to the Rambam, Laws of Kings, end of Chap. 10, the rationale extends beyond the simple interpretation of ‘darchei shalom’ (ways of peace), and involves emulating the ways of Hashem in being good to all.

    • What is written there is also true, but only when the situation warrants it, not to actively go when it is not called for.

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