In today's Rambam, Hilchos Edut chapter 11 halacha 3, the Rambam writes that if one takes charity from goyim in public when it's possible to take it in private, that person is invalid as a witness

Does the apply to using an EBT card in public, since it's possible to only use it on Amazon etc? Or is it not considered charity?

  • I've heard socialism described as "charity at gunpoint." I'd imagine that the "forced charity" of a government-manded and -taxed social welfare system wouldn't constitute charity by halachic definitions, as well.
    – Yehuda
    May 31 at 6:02
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    Would you consider explaining us, ignorant non-US yiden what an EBT card is? May 31 at 6:19
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    @Kazibácsi U.S. Government provided funds to buy food and in some cases/states other needs. One has to a apply and meet certain economic need criteria. "Welfare", "food stamps", "benefits", "the dole", etc. in various places. It is currently done by sending a card that works the same as a debit card at the store. EBT = "electronic benefits transfer." Your question is a good one, as the current EBT format might affect the answer if it is even "in public". A passerby would have to look closely to see that the "credit card" you are using is actually an EBT card.
    – Damila
    Jun 1 at 19:20

EBT is not from a person, it’s a taxpayer funded program run by the state. The money does not come from a goy but a government fund, therefore it is not accepting tzeddakah from goyim but the broader public.


The fact that money is coming from the government (public funds) doesn't seem to make it less of a charity. The Gemora Bava Basra 10b says:

אִיפְרָא הוֹרְמִיז אִימֵּיהּ דְּשַׁבּוּר מַלְכָּא שַׁדַּרָה אַרְבַּע מְאָה דִּינָרֵי לְקַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי אַמֵּי וְלָא קַבְּלִינְהוּ שַׁדַּרְ[תִּ]ינְהוּ קַמֵּיהּ דְּרָבָא וְקַבְּלִינְהוּ מִשּׁוּם שְׁלוֹם מַלְכוּת שְׁמַע רַבִּי אַמֵּי אִיקְּפַד אֲמַר לֵית לֵיהּ בִּיבֹשׁ קְצִירָהּ תִּשָּׁבַרְנָה נָשִׁים בָּאוֹת מְאִירוֹת אוֹתָהּ וְרָבָא מִשּׁוּם שְׁלוֹם מַלְכוּת

Ifera Hurmiz, the mother of King Shapur sent four hundred dinars to Rabbi Ami, but he did not accept them. She then sent them to Rava, and he accepted them for the sake of peace with the government . Rabbi Ami heard what Rava had done and was upset. He said: the The posuk : “When the boughs are withered, they shall be broken off; the women shall come and set them on fire” (So why) did Rava accept the money? (The Gemara answers:) He did so for the sake of peace with the kingdom.

The Gemora goes on to say that even Rava who accepted the money for the sake of Shalom Malchhus gave it to non-Jewish recipients.

It is safe to assume that Ifera Hurmiz was sending public money. Not money she privately earned on her own.

On another note I know people on government programs who would not accept Edus by a Chasuna and I know people who would not give it to them because it so difficult to be 100% straight with the government that they feel anyone on programs is not kosher for edus due to psul gazlan

  • "It is safe to assume that Ifera Hurmiz was sending public money." Why? Based on the words you quoted, I see no reason to assume it was public funds. May 31 at 18:51
  • When was the last time a politician made a major charity contribution from their own money? How likely is it that she even HAD large amounts of private money? Where would she have gotten it from?
    – Schmerel
    May 31 at 18:58
  • The "public funds" were considered the king's money back then.
    – Damila
    Jun 1 at 19:22

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