Our holy sages said that the poor man is like the dead.They said that divinely.

נשכחתי כמת מלב
I am forgotten like the dead, unrecalled.
(Psalms 31:13)

If we compare the qualities of the poor with those of the dead, we will find them to a greater extent equal. The dying man bears the agonies of the death, and the wealthy man bears the angst of poverty when he sees himself decaying, and as the earlier fears to die, the latter fears to be poor.

When the agonizing man dies, you will see the relatives heartbroken and distressed to such extent as if they would end their own lives with the deceased. But, eventually, over time, first, the pain diminishes, then reduced and in the end, it is totally forgotten.

עני חשוב כמת
A poor man may be considered as dead.
(Rashi to Gen. 29:11; Ex. 4:19; Ibn Paquda on Devarim 15:10; Nedarim 64b.)

The same happens to the poor man. When a wealthy man becomes poor, you will notice that in the beginning, everyone feels sorrow, everyone cries about him, everybody hurts, everyone seeks many large donations for him, but over time, when the eye gets used to seeing him as poor and imagination considers him as poor, first the feelings diminish, then reduced, and finally they totally fade into oblivion. This is why our sages said,

עני חשוב כמת
A poor man may be considered as dead.
(Rashi to Gen. 29:11; Ex. 4:19; Ibn Paquda on Devarim 15:10; Nedarim 64b.)

The dead are like the idols who were described with emphasis by the psalmist, they have eyes but cannot see.

עינים להם ולא יראו
They have eyes but cannot see.
(Psalms 115:6)

So is the poor man, he has eyes, but cannot see; he has mouth, but does not speak on his behalf; he has ears but does not hear the offenses; he has hands, but not to avenge himself,; finally, he has feet, but not to run away from misfortune. Hence, our sages said, the poor man is like the dead.

The closest relatives, the most intimate, and the most loyal friends of the dead, request his funeral and speed up his burial to hide him into the bowels of the earth, to avoid seeing such a sad and horrible spectacle.

The relatives of the poor do the same, with only one distinction: If the friends and relatives of the dead man bury him, the relatives and friends of the poor man banish him. Thus said Solomon.

כל אחי רש ׀ שנאהו אף כי מרעהו רחקו ממנו
All the brothers of a poor man look down on him; surely his friends distance themselves from him.
(Proverbs 19:7)

Hence, as our sages rightly said, the poor is like the dead.

עני חשוב כמת
A poor man may be considered as dead.
(Rashi to Gen. 29:11; Ex. 4:19; Ibn Paquda on Devarim 15:10; Nedarim 64b.)

בשכר עניו יחלצו מדינה של גיהנם
as the prize for poverty, the poor man is exonerated from the charges of Gehinnom.
(Yevamot 102b.)

Considering that, all the agonies of death, so painful to those who suffer them, and so horrible to those who see them upon others, are narrow passages to transit and raise to rest, glory and happiness. All the inconveniences of poverty, all its hurt, all its agony, are stepping stones towards heaven, stages towards glory and guarantees towards good fortune.
So was the statement of the Maamar about this topic: The poor escapes by means of his poverty, by means of the sufferings of his poverty, he is exonerated from the torments of hell.

יחלץ עני בעניו בשכר עניו יחלצו מדינה של גיהנם
The poor man is safe, as the prize for poverty, the poor man is exonerated from the charges of Gehinnom.
(Yevamot 102b.)

Then, the sentence of our sages is true and infallible, the poor is like the dead.

עני חשוב כמת
A poor man may be considered as dead.
(Rashi to Gen. 29:11; Ex. 4:19; Ibn Paquda on Devarim 15:10; Nedarim 64b.)

What I have shown you, dear brothers of this pious and holy brotherhood, Bikur Holim, is an excerpt of what you will see on the original [experience] by helping the poor and by assisting the dying. Therefore, print these words in your hearts, and compare them with the original [experience] when you have the occasion. Consider, the poor are God’s beloved children whom he sustains with the daily Manna of the Divine Providence. They have full and free access to the tribunal of Divine Grace and their clamor will be executed with fast delivery. God afflicts them a bit in this world to comfort them in the other world.

בשכר עניו יחלצו מדינה של גיהנם
as the prize for poverty, the poor man is exonerated from the charges of Gehinnom.
(Yevamot 102b.)

Here, they are looked down on, defeated, despised, we will see them there [in the other world], high standing, happy and beloved, celebrating with joy the victories of poverty.

Therefore, love them, caress them, be compassionate, assist them fondly with love and fear of God, so that the same God will love you, protect you, extend your life and the lives of your families, increase your property, and finally grant you merit of His grace in this world and His glory in the other, until the coming of our awaited Messiah and our desired resurrection, may this be in our days! AMEN.

*From the Victories of Poverty by Rabbi David Nieto. London, 1709 (5469)

First translation from Judaeo-Spanish by Walter Hilliger © 2018 (5778)