Jewish Philosopher Maimonides’ View of Charity

This comes from Louis Jacobs’ the Book of Jewish Belief, page 185. One of the most reknown Jewish philosophers, Maimonides, listed eight levels of charitable acts. It is interesting to see how these are borne out by individuals and by churches today.

  1. A man gives, but is glum when he gives. This is the lowest degree of all.
  2. A man gives with a cheerful countenance, but gives less than he should.
  3. A man gives, but only when asked by the poor.
  4. A man gives without having to be asked, but gives directly to the poor who know therefore to whom they are indebted, and he, too, knows whom he has benefited.
  5. A man places his donation in a certain place and then turns his back so that he does not know which of the poor he has benefited, but the poor man knows to whom he is indebted.
  6. A man throws the money into the house of a poor man. The poor man does not know to whom he is indebted, but the donor knows whom he has benefited.
  7. A man contributes anonymously to the charity fund that is then distributed to the poor. Here the poor man does not know to whom he is indebted, neither does the donor know whom he has benefited.
  8. Highest of all is when money is given to prevent another from becoming poor, as by providing him with a job or by lending him money to tide him over a difficult period. There is no charity greater than this becasue it prevents poverty in the first instance.

So, how is your church not just helping the poor, but preventing poverty?

Lead On!