One of the greatest elements of Judaism is compassion. And foremost about how religion is the need to give Tzedkah (charity) in order to help others and help people. There is indeed a commandment that everyone should give – and indeed helping makes everyone’s lives that much better.
Maimonides, a 12th century scholar and physician offered the world a handy reference on the subject of charity. Also known by his acronym, Rambam, Maimonides listed the various categories of charity according to references from the Talmud. These categories were arranged by the Rambam according to ascending levels of merit.
One can learn a great deal about the act of giving charity – and life in general – by reviewing this list. We learn that purity of purpose matters – and isn’t that indeed the case for many things of life.
Maimonides described eight levels of charity, and indeed they are meaningful as they were 9 centuries ago:
8.Giving while begrudging the act
7. Giving less than you can but happily
6. Giving in response to a request
5. Giving before the request is made
4. Giving where the identity of the recipient is unknown to you but your identity is known to the recipient
3. Giving in the case where you know the identity of the recipient but your identity is unknown to him or her
2. Giving in complete anonymity in which neither party knows the identity of the other
1. Helping the needy person to become self-sufficient so that charity is no longer needed
Did you think about giving to charity before the holiday, before those envelopes arrived asking for your help? That would be level number 5. Going further up the ladder would be a car donation to Kars For Kids or donating clothes (even during Passover cleaning) to the Salvation Army.
The best type of charity is not to give charity at all, but rather to enable the person to lose his state of neediness. The old adage about teaching a man to fish – well it’s all true.
I believe that the more I donate, the more funds I will make. Donation and charity is a fundamental component to success. Donate and succeed. Each one of us has a unique obligation to give charity – whether in money, time or other means.