In his introduction to Parshat Vayechi, Rabbeinu Bachya says the following regarding charity (Munk translation):

“The subject matter of charity, how to practice it, and in what amount to practice it is quite complicated; the fundamental ingredient of doing charity is that one gives to someone else something which belongs to one. There are many ways of doing this. ... based on Exodus 22,24 “the poor person who lives amongst you.” A poor person residing in your house takes precedence in his claim on your charity over someone who lives out of town. A poor person who is also a next of kin takes precedence over another poor person of your hometown. The relevant verse in Isaiah 58,7 states: “do not ignore your own kin.” A still higher level of charity is to provide one’s children with a livelihood.”

I remember being taught something to this effect in cheider too.

Is there a classical source from the Talmud or Midrash for this idea?

2 Answers 2


Talmud: Bava Metzia 71a

איכא דמתני לה להא דרב הונא אהא דתני רב יוסף (שמות כב, כד) אם כסף תלוה את עמי את העני עמך עמי ונכרי עמי קודם עני ועשיר עני קודם ענייך ועניי עירך ענייך קודמין עניי עירך ועניי עיר אחרת עניי עירך קודמין

There are those who teach that which Rav Huna said in connection with that which Rav Yosef taught: The verse states: “If you lend money to any of My people, even to the poor person who is with you” (Exodus 22:24). The term “My people” teaches that if one of My people, i.e., a Jew, and a gentile both come to borrow money from you, My people take precedence. The term “the poor person” teaches that if a poor person and a rich person come to borrow money, the poor person takes precedence. And from the term: “Who is with you,” it is derived: If your poor person, meaning one of your relatives, and one of the poor of your city come to borrow money, your poor person takes precedence. If it is between one of the poor of your city and one of the poor of another city, the one of the poor of your city takes precedence.

Midrash: Tanchuma Mishpatim 15:5

אֶת הֶעָנִי עִמָּךְ, מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה: עֲנִיֶּיךָ וַעֲנִיֵּי עִירְךָ, עֲנִיֶּיךָ קוֹדְמִין. עֲנִיֵּי עִירְךָ וַעֲנִיֵּי עִיר אַחֶרֶת, עֲנִיֵּי עִירְךָ קוֹדְמִין לַעֲנִיֵּי עִיר אַחֶרֶת.‏

  • This is missing the last step of one's own household. And I think I remember that there is a gemara to that effect.
    – Mordechai
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 12:58
  • @Mordechai - All I can think of is: יוֹסֵי בֶן יוֹחָנָן אִישׁ יְרוּשָׁלַיִם אוֹמֵר, יְהִי בֵיתְךָ פָתוּחַ לִרְוָחָה, וְיִהְיוּ עֲנִיִּים בְּנֵי בֵיתֶךָ, וְאַל תַּרְבֶּה שִׂיחָה עִם הָאִשָּׁה. from Avot. Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 13:01

The biblical source of the saying "charity begins at home" is probably the following passuk:


הֲלוֹא פָרֹס לָרָעֵב לַחְמֶךָ וַעֲנִיִּים מְרוּדִים תָּבִיא בָיִת כִּי תִרְאֶה עָרֹם וְכִסִּיתוֹ וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ לֹא תִתְעַלָּם.

It is to share your bread with the hungry, And to take the wretched poor into your home; When you see the naked, to clothe him, And not to ignore your own kin.

Please refer to the following hebrew Wikipedia article which explains the various halachot that are derived from this principle - https://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%91%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%9A_%D7%9C%D7%90_%D7%AA%D7%AA%D7%A2%D7%9C%D7%9D.

Probably the most relevant of the article, vis-a-vis the current question, is:

צדקה רבי יצחק בן משה מווינה פסק בספרו אור זרוע (הלכות צדקה), לתת קודם כול לקרובי משפחתו, עד מחצית מכספי הצדקה. דין זה נסמך על הפסוק "ומבשרך אל תתעלם".

The Ohr Zarua says that one is obliged to give at least 50% of one's tzedaka funds first to their own relatives.


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