If you were cast away on an island with just one Jewish text for company, which would you choose?
This week, Sarita Roinson, Northern Communities Development Worker at MRJ, selects Maimonides’, eight levels of charitable giving.
My favourite Jewish text is Maimonides’ Eight Levels of Charitable Giving.
It might seem like an odd choice to take with you to a desert island but, being cast away, I think it would be important to reflect upon – and remember – what binds us to other people.
We are all responsible for one another and every individual is part of a much greater whole.
Maimonides teaches us that tzedakah is not just an act of charitable giving.
At its greatest level, giving (and I would argue that this does not apply only to Jews but to all our fellow human beings) is an act that has the potential to empower, giving strength to the weak and independence to those in need.
It’s inspiring to think that we all have the potential to change someone’s life and perhaps the entire world.
According to Maimonides, the second highest level of giving is when both the giver and the recipient are unknown to one another.
In recent weeks, it has been hard to avoid the ice bucket challenge.
In case you have missed the saturation (pardon the pun) coverage on social media, the challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and to encourage donations to research.
At first sight, it seems like a fantastic initiative to spread awareness and raise money. But how many people actually donated? And how many can even remember the charity behind it all? Is it more about celebrities raising their profiles and showing off?
I don’t wish to be grumpy – after all, every penny counts for charities large and small, but perhaps we should go back to the basics of Maimonides’ advice, switching the focus from ourselves to those who are truly in need.