Eight Levels of Giving

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Tzedekah is the Hebrew word for acts that are referred to as “charity.” Giving aid, assistance, and money to the poor and needy and to other worthy causes are examples of tzedekah.
However, when we give, we don’t do so simply to be generous and altruistic. We do so because it is an act of righteousness and justice. Something that as followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Messiah Yeshua, we are beholden to do!

When we give tzedekah we remember that: 

“Whoever is generous (is gracious) to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17)

 

While doing some homework reading for the Temple Academy (offered by Joseph Good of HaTikva Ministries at jerusalemtemplestudy.com) about Maimonides, the following information was gleaned and we felt compelled to share about it.

maimonides cordoba

Statue of Moses Maimonides in Cordoba, Spain

Maimonides (aka “RaMBaM”), one of the most influential Torah Scholars ever, wrote in his ever famous Mishneh Torah regarding tzedekah. In the section entitled “Hilkhot Matanot Aniyim” (Laws about Giving to Poor People), Chapter 10:7–14, he establishes eight degrees of giving tzedekah. Most preferred is the first level, while the eight level is least desirable.

  1. Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others.
  2. Giving tzedakah anonymously to an unknown recipient via a person (or public fund) which is trustworthy, wise, and can perform acts of tzedakah with your money in a most impeccable fashion
  3. Giving tzedakah anonymously to a known recipient.
  4. Giving tzedakah publicly to an unknown recipient.
  5. Giving tzedakah before being asked.
  6. Giving adequately after being asked.
  7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
  8. Giving “in sadness” (giving out of pity): It is thought that Maimonides was referring to giving because of the sad feelings one might have in seeing people in need (as opposed to giving because it is a religious obligation). Other translations say “Giving unwillingly”

We urge you to consider the eight levels listed by Maimonides and consider whether you are a giver and what your motivation is for giving (or not giving).  We leave you with the words of the Psalmist:

“It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever;
his horn is exalted in honor.”
(Psalm 112:5,9)
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