The article suggests a frame of reference for the phenomenon of Ottoman Jewish courtiers, their philanthropic activity, and their motivations. Ottoman Jewish courtiers filled a similar role to that of their European peers. Besides helping people and communities, they used their political power to enhance their wealth and influence within the Jewish community, cleverly exploiting communal resources to maintain their business. The article examines their internal and external status, and their motivations concerning philanthropic actions. I argue that these businessmen made informed and utilitarian decisions concerning tzedakah, motivated by money and power, rather than by pure philanthropic or religious sentiments.
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- Jewish community
- Ottoman Empire
- Tzedakah (Jewish charity)