Eight Rungs of the Giving Ladder
(News Item #0188, Published: 11/26/09, VRIA.org)
In the spirit of the season some thoughts ring truer than others.
During the Middle Ages, a Jewish Rabbi, physician and philosopher penned his observations about philanthropy. Maimonides (1135 -1204) created the Eight Rungs of Giving Ladder. Where do you fall on the scale.
1. To give reluctantly – the gift of the hand, but not of the heart.
2. To give cheerfully – but not in proportion to need.
3. To give cheerfully and proportionately – but not until solicited.
4. To give cheerfully, proportionately, and unsolicited – but to put the gift into the poor person’s hand, thus creating shame.
5. To give in such a way that the distressed may know their benefactor – without being known to him or her.
6. To know the objects of our bounty – but remain unknown to them.
7. To give so that the benefactor may not know those whom he has relieved,
and they shall not know him.
8. To prevent poverty by teaching a trade, setting a person up in business,
or in some other way preventing the need of charity.
A 1997 article from
explains that 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. What a compassionate idea.