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Poverty, Avoiding the Judgment of Hell, and the Responsibility of the Non-Poor

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Date posted: 5/29/14

The Talmud (B. Bava Batra 10a) presents a fictional and fascinating dialogue between a Roman named Tineius Rufus and the famous Rabbi Akiva. In the course of this dialogue, interesting ideas emerge about why there is poverty, what the community’s responsibility is to the poor, and whether or not charity can save the giver from the “judgment of Gehinnom (hell).”

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Alyssa M. Gray, J.D., Ph.D.

Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair in Rabbinics; Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature, HUC-JIR/New York

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Social Responsibility

Jewish Law as Great Literature