Maos Chitim

The Maos Chitim Fund:

It’s a widespread custom amongst all Jewish communities, that each community places a tax on its citizens for the need of wheat for Pesach, in order to distribute it to the poor people of that community.

 

A. Who is obligated in this tax?

A permanent resident:[1] Any inhabitant which has moved to the city on a permanent basis, is immediately considered a citizen of that city and is obligated and enforced in giving the wheat tax.

A temporary resident:[2] If the inhabitant only moved there on temporary basis, then if he has lived in the city for 12 months, he is considered a citizen of that city, and is thus obligated in the tax. Today however, due to the tribulations of the exile, the custom is that any temporary inhabitant who lives in the city for 30 days is considered a citizen of that city and is obligated and enforced in giving the tax.[3]

A Torah Scholar:[4] Even the Torah Scholars which are normally exempt from paying taxes are obligated in this tax, being that it is for the purpose of charity.

  

B. Which paupers may receive from this fund?

A permanent resident:[5] Any pauper which has moved to the city on a permanent basis, is immediately considered a citizen of that city, and is eligible to receive charity from the wheat fund.

A temporary resident:[6] If the pauper only moved there on a temporary basis, then if he has lived in the city for 12 months, he is considered a citizen of that city and is thus eligible to receive charity from the wheat fund. Today however, due to the tribulations of the exile, the custom is that any pauper which is a temporary inhabitant, who lives in the city for 30 days, is considered a citizen of that city and is eligible to receive charity from the wheat fund.

A non-resident: Any pauper which has only come to the city on a temporary basis and has not lived there for thirty days, is not considered a city resident and is thus not eligible to receive from the Chitim fund. Nevertheless the city fund is obligated to give him Matzah for Pesach, just like they are obligated to give him two meals a day for every weekday that he is in the city, and three meals for Shabbos[7], as is explained in Hilchos Tzedakah chapter 256/1.

 

Q&A

 

Why is the custom of Maos Chitim brought here and not under Hilchos Tzedakah?

 Perhaps this hints that giving charity is an integral part of Pesach, as not just a law relevant to Tzedakah.[8]


 

[1] 429/6

[2] 429/5

[3] See Rama Yorah Deah 256/5 “There are those that say that today all the charity obligations begin from after thirty days”

[4] 429/5

[5] 429/6

[6] 429/5

[7] Evidently this refers to the Tamchuy fund. See Yorah Deah 256/1

[8] See Nitei Gavriel Pesach 1

 

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