מכתב: T-S Ar.46.253

מכתב T-S Ar.46.253



Circular letter written by Shelomo b. Eliyyahu, in Fustat. In Judaeo-Arabic Dating: Summer 1229 CE. Letter of recommendation for the bearer Ibrāhīm b. Ḥasan, a poor man from Baghdad in need of charity. Endorsed on verso by the judge Yeḥiel b. Elyaqim from Aleppo (see Med Soc II, App. D, sec. 30). Information from Med Soc II, App. C, sec. 140.

T-S Ar.46.253 1r




Mark Cohen, The Voice of the Poor in the Middle Ages (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2005).


To the holy communities in Egypt, may they be saved and guarded and protected against all evil and fear surrounding them. May He fulfill through them the verse "Then my people shall dwell in peaceful homes, [in] s[e]cu[r1e [dwe]llings" (Isaiah 32:18) [...]. Their noble teaching obliges people to help the poor, especially when [foreign origin] and utter poverty are combined. One of their sayings is: "Repentance and good works are a shield against r[etr]ibu[t]ion" (Mishna Avot 4:11) [...] repentance. I call this charitable acts, because a man does not recover from ill[nes]s [...] eliminated because of this mixture of bodily illness. Thus said lord Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar "Redeem your sins by beneficence," etc. (Daniel 4:24), especially for the deserving poor. Because charity was not done in the (right) places, namely, for those who deserved to receive it—considering that it saves from unnatural death, as is written, "but charity saves from death," etc. (Proverbs 10:2)—the prophet, lord Jeremiah, peace be upon him, for everything that Israel did to him and to themselves, prayed against them a terrible prayer, saying to the Master of Heaven and his Benefactor, "[Let them be made to stumble before you, act against them in Your hour of wrath" (Jeremiah 18:23). The sa(ges), (may their) m(emory be) b(lessed), interpreted this to mean that he called out to God the ex(alted) not to bring their way a man deserving of charity, considering that charity has the benefit that would result from it. The sa(ges), (may their) m(emory be) b(lessed) therefore decided that whoever can should give to whomever asks, be he deserving or undeserving. 

The bearer of this petition to you illustrious persons is a man called Ibrahīm b. Ḥasan. He said he is of the people of aI-Q[ ... ]ān, a foreigner and poor, incapable of anything. He requested that a letter be written to the holy communities with which he could invoke their pity. Whatever kindness, charity, or beneficence you can do for him and others who are deserving or not will be considered as a ray of light in front of you. It will fulfill the verse, "Your charity shall march before you, the Lord's honor shall be your rear guard" (Isaiah 58:8).

Recto, margin

I wrote this in the middle of the month of Av (1)540 of (the Era of) D(ocuments) [1229], may its mourning be turned into joy. Much peace to you.

T-S Ar.46.253 1v



We know this poor man Abraham al-Baghdādī has nothing and is wandering in search of bread. Whoever takes pity on him, his reward from heaven will be double. Yeḥiel b. Eliakim


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