By Alyssa Gray
"...scholars working in rabbinic charity studies must take rabbinic intertextuality and the creation of texts out of other texts very seriously. And as we do so, we will relearn the lesson that social historical conclusions are difficult to draw from these literatures (especially the Bavli), although we can learn much about the history of ideas, of mentalité."
by Yael Wilfand
"Therefore, beyond what has been transmitted in rabbinic sources, we have little evidence of the general Jewish population. Yet, on the basis of contextualized data, I suggest that at least some of the notions and practices mentioned in this corpus seem to have been accepted and engaged beyond rabbinic circles."
"Whereas Christians (as Peter Brown has shown) and later Jews would use organized charity to promote their own religious authority, I argue that it was originally formulated by the early rabbis or Tannaim to protect the dignity of the poor. Institutionalized giving creates an alternative to begging that benefits the community as a whole – poor and non-poor alike."
"The upshot here is that we can no more speak of “the” rabbinic view of charity than we can of “the” rabbinic view of anything else. Rabbinic views represented a range of opinions, even if we can see some of them cluster, and those opinions become even more diverse when refracted through the work of the literary redactors."