It is related of Benjamin the righteous, who was keeper of the poor-box,
that a woman came to him at a period of famine and solicited food. "By
the worship of God," he replied, "there is nothing in the box." She then
exclaimed, "O Rabbi, if thou dost not feed me I and my seven children
must needs starve." Upon which he relieved her from his own private
purse. In course of time he fell ill and was nigh unto death. Then the
ministering angels interceded with the Holy One--blessed be He!--and
said, "Lord of the Universe, Thou hast said he that preserveth one
single soul of Israel alive is as if he had preserved the life of the
whole world; and shall Benjamin the righteous, who preserved a poor
woman and her seven children, die so prematurely?" Instantly the
death-warrant which had gone forth was torn up, and twenty-two years
were added to his life.
THE TALMUD, _Bava Bathra_, fol. 11, col. 1.