Thursday, January 06, 2005

The greatest gift

Bill Ehlig never ceases to amaze me with the great
quotes he finds in the most obscure (at least to me)
sources. Here's the latest one he shared with me.
It regards giving. Thanks, Bill! Something to consider
from Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin's book To Be a Jew
(Basic Books, 1972), p.50:

The eight levels of charity, in ascending order:

8. The eighth and lowest level of charity is when one
gives charity grudingly.

7. The seventh level is when one gives less than he
should, but does so cheerfully.

6. The sixth level is when one gives directly to the
poor upon being asked.

5. The fifth level is when one gives the alms directly to
the poor without being asked.

4. The fourth level is when the giving is indirect. The
recipient knows who the giver is, but the giver does
not know the identity of the recipient.

3. The third level is when the giver knows the identity
of the recipient, but the receipient does not know the
identity of the giver.

2. The second highest level is when the one who gives
is unaware of the recipient, who in turn is unaware of
the giver. In contributing to a charity fund, one gives in
this way. Communal funds administered by responsible
people, are also in this category.

1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a
person before he becomes impoverished, by offering a
substantial gift in a dignified manner or by extending a
suitable loan, or by helping him find employment or
establish himself in some other business so as to make
it unnecessary for him to become dependant upon
others.