Maimonides on Giving

I’m placing this here because I think it has strong resonances with the Muslim thinking on the concept of charity. I’ll post a similar one for Muslims shortly.

Eight Rungs of the Giving Ladder:

The concept of giving anonymously without knowing the recipient can be traced back to ancient Israel. Beggars would regularly congregate next to a wall of a courtyard and donors, being aware of this, would face the opposite direction and toss coins over the shoulders in the direction of the wall. Therefore, the recipients of the charity would not feel ashamed or indebted to the giver.

Maimonides, a 12th century Jewish scholar, invented the following ladder of giving. Each rung up represents a higher degree of virtue:

1. The lowest: Giving begrudgingly and making the recipient feel disgraced or embarrassed.

2. Giving cheerfully but giving too little.

3. Giving cheerfully and adequately but only after being asked.

4. Giving before being asked.

5. Giving when you do not know who is the individual benefiting, but the recipient knows your identity.

6. Giving when you know who is the individual benefiting, but the recipient does not knows your identity.

7. Giving when neither the donor nor the recipient is aware of the other’s identity.

8. The Highest: Giving money, a loan, your time or whatever else it takes to enable an individual to be self-reliant.