BENJAMIN HA-ZẠDDIḲ ("the pious"):

A philanthropist of the tannaitic period. According to a Baraita, he was manager of certain charitable funds. Once there appeared before him a woman begging alms, but Benjamin protested that the treasury was exhausted. The poor, despairing woman thereupon exclaimed, "Rabbi, if thou wilt not aid me, a woman and her seven children will perish of starvation!" Benjamin then undertook to support the family out of his own means. After the lapse of some time Benjamin became sick unto death. Then, legend says, the ministering angels addressed the Lord, saying, "Master of the universe, Thou hast said, Whosoever preserves a single being in Israel is in Thy sight as if he had preserved the whole world: shall Benjamin, who has preserved a mother and her seven children, die at an early age?" Thereupon the decree of death was annulled, and two-and-twenty years were added to Benjamin's allotted period of life (B. B. 11a).

J. Sr. S. M.
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