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The Gemara in several places (BM 48b and 62a, Yevamos 22b, Sanhedrin 85a, BB 4a, BK 94b, Makkos 8b) quotes the exposition

ונשיא בעמך לא תאור - בעושה מעשה עמך

“A prince in your people you shall not curse” - when he does the actions of your people

The term עמך is used regarding many mitzvos, not just the one in question - Tzedakah (Shemos 22:24), Shemitah (Shemos 23:11), Rechilus (Vayikra 19:16), and revenge and bearing a grudge (Vayikra 19:18) are just a few off the top of my head.

We even see in the Pesukim that the term is used this way, even not in conjunction with ונשיא בעמך לא תאור. Throughout the story of Yetzias Mitzraim, Hashem tells Moshe, and Moshe tells Paroh, to send “My nation” out of Mitzraim (Shemos 3:7, 3:10, 5:1, 7:4, 7:16, 7:26, 8:16, 8:17, 9:1, 9:13, 10:3, 10:4). Guess who leaves? Not all the Jews - just the 20% of them who wanted to leave and join Hashem’s nation (Rashi to Shemos 13:18). Perhaps we see from here that when the word עמי or עמך is used, it only refers to those who are עושה מעשה עמך, just as by Yetzias Mitzraim, only those who were בעושה מעשה עמך actually left.

In terms of practical Halacha, do we apply the exposition of עושה מעשה עמך to these mitzvos as well? For instance, is there still an obligation to give a poor person tzedakah if he is a Rasha? Does the exposition apply anywhere that the term עמך appears, or can we only apply it where we have a tradition that it can be applied?

I should clarify: Even if the Halacha is that there is no obligation to give tzedakah to wicked poor people, I’m only looking for answers that derive this Halacha specifically from the term עמך.

  • Did you intend to ask about רעך, עמיתך, חברך, אחיך also? – Al Berko Jan 22 at 18:16
  • I don't like mixing Torah with Halacha, I mean interpretations with rulings. The word עמך is used through the Torah for all the Jewish nation, whether Tzaddikim or else. It is used before the Exodus also. But the Halacha might only use it as an אסמכתא! not the Source of the Halachah. – Al Berko Jan 22 at 18:26
  • @AlBerko 1. You seem to be assuming like my second approach, that for whatever reason, the derasha on עמך only applies here. On what basis do you say that? I guess another way of asking my question is if this is a part of this mitzvah, or if this is the definition of the word עמך, the latter approach allowing it to be applied elsewhere. 2. עמיתך I suppose would be the same derasha, but the others have their own applications. Perhaps I could ask about אחיך במצות, but let’s stick to one term at a time. – DonielF Jan 22 at 18:29
  • The Malbim doesn't say anything relevant on the spot :(. I was sure he would. – Heshy Jan 22 at 18:29
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    I wonder if the focus isn't on עמך per se, but on נשיא בעמך. A נשיא is a leadership position. A rasha is still part of the עמך, but he can't be called a leader if he's acting in ways that go against what the Jewish people stand for. – Heshy Jan 23 at 17:37

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