In the previous week’s Judaism 101 we saw the least desirable ways of giving tzedakah are giving what the person needs, but grudgingly, and giving less than the person needs, but pleasantly.
Rung six in the ladder of giving is to give generously, but only after being asked. This is the level upon which we are accustomed to act, like when we receive a letter in the mail for a certain charity or receive a phone call asking for a pledge. It’s still a mitzvah to give in this situation, but there are many higher levels.
Level five is one who gives before he is asked. He senses the situation of a person and alleviates some of his/her embarrassment by offering money before he/she has to ask.
Level four is when the receiver knows the identity of the giver, but the giver does not know the identity of the receiver. In the lowest rungs, five through eight, the recipient and the donor know one another, putting the giver in a position of superiority. Four alleviates some of this discomfort.
We are told that the sages used to tie coins for the poor to the back of their robes, alleviating some of the recipients’ shame. •