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Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Charity

Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Charity

Mishneh Torah, Laws of Charity, 10:7–14


There are eight levels of charity, each greater than the next.

[1] The greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand until he need no longer be dependent upon others . . .

[2] A lesser level of charity than this is to give to the poor without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from who he received. For this is performing a mitzvah solely for the sake of Heaven. This is like the “anonymous fund” that was in the Holy Temple [in Jerusalem]. There the righteous gave in secret, and the good poor profited in secret. Giving to a charity fund is similar to this mode of charity, though one should not contribute to a charity fund unless one knows that the person appointed over the fund is trustworthy and wise and a proper administrator, like Rabbi Chananyah ben Teradyon.

[3] A lesser level of charity than this is when one knows to whom one gives, but the recipient does not know his benefactor. The greatest sages used to walk about in secret and put coins in the doors of the poor. It is worthy and truly good to do this, if those who are responsible for distributing charity are not trustworthy.

[4] A lesser level of charity than this is when one does not know to whom one gives, but the poor person does know his benefactor. The greatest sages used to tie coins into their robes and throw them behind their backs, and the poor would come up and pick the coins out of their robes, so that they would not be ashamed.

[5] A lesser level than this is when one gives to the poor person directly into his hand, but gives before being asked.

[6] A lesser level than this is when one gives to the poor person after being asked.

[7] A lesser level than this is when one gives inadequately, but gives gladly and with a smile.

[8] A lesser level than this is when one gives unwillingly.

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Discussion (21)
March 30, 2016
Socialism Vs Conservatism etc...
The only 'ism' we accept as binding, and the only 'ism' that defines Jews, is 'Judaism', not socialism or capitalism etc etc. If Jews have socialist tendencies, it's because they believe in helping the most needy in society, and making it law to do so, much like to Torah law of tithing, which is binding on all Jews. There is no such thing as a 'socialist Jew', but 'Jew' alone. Jewish identity is defined by G-d, the Creator, Blessed Be He for All Eternity, not worldly labels of distinction.
Yakov Israel
March 30, 2016
Giving Unwillingly
I've been guilty of this, but at least there are 7 more steps to climb.

I agree with Maimonedes 100%. His wisdom surely comes from G-d, and the 8 points can be supported by the Torah.

G-d has been giving to us.

Genesis 12:3 "I will bless those that bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Today Rabah!
Yakov Israel
October 19, 2015
7th Heaven
Disagree w/ Maimonedes on the 7th level of giving (who am I?)

My limited experience in giving to people begging in Toronto is that it is a) impossible to give adequately, as this would require an in depth financial analysis; b) "...but gives gladly, with a smile..." Is close, but not nearly enough. Poor people who have to beg suffer from low self esteem. If they are not dangerous, I always try to go down to the ground on my haunches, speak to them with a lot of respect, and engage them in meaningful conversation, like asking what happened that they are having a tough time? And really, any of us can have the bottom fall out and end up on the street like them. A person's dignity is paramount. There must be a Jewish expression for this, as this is an age old problem? Would like to learn more.
December 18, 2014
that's why you are superior.
December 18, 2014
Jewish Democrats
Then why are so many American Jews socialist liberals?
March 13, 2014
Yes, Socialism.
An understanding of socialism as 'forcible taking' is incorrect and is actually informed only by those who seek to do nothing but smear its name. Accepting such a definition would be like going to an antisemite for an explanation of Judaism.

Socialism is a social order under which working people have collective control over both the process and products of their labor. Far from being 'forcible taking', socialism abolishes the forcible taking of the workers' surplus value (the difference between what the worker is paid and what the product of their labor is actually worth on the market) by the employer who owns the tools that the worker needs to work.

To give examples of societies that have called themselves 'socialist' but did not have such an order in an attempt to discredit socialism would be like using the horrors of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea to discredit democracy. It is simply arguing in bad faith.
Madman Defarge
June 12, 2013
Socialism does not involve giving, grudgingly or otherwise, but forcible taking.
Virginia Beach
June 12, 2013
Re: Socailism.
No not interpreted.
But pure and successful socialism, like the kibbutz of 50 years ago, would be one of the possible expressions of socialism.
Netta Goldman
Nahariya Israel
June 11, 2013
Could one interpret level 8 as socialism?
Mark Richman
Parkland, FL
March 15, 2013
I think all these are in the Talmud. Specific references should be given.
Maurice M Mizrahi