This week we conclude our series on Maimonides’ eight levels of giving.
What is the highest level of charity? Not giving charity at all, but enabling the recipient to become self-sufficient.This means helping someone find a job or setting them up in business. It could mean entering into a business partnership with him or her, strengthening him until he no longer needs to be dependent.
Why is this method the highest level? Because it is transformational. The person goes from being a recipient to being in a position himself to give.
A question can be asked –– what if I give charity so people will be impressed and not out of love for God and the mitzvot? The rabbis teach that though it is best to do mitzvot for their own sake, it’s important to do right even if for now it is for the wrong reasons. In the case of tzedakah, regardless of your intentions, the poor person will benefit.
Moreover, there is a saying in Judaism,mitzvot goreret mitzvah,” one mitzvot leads to another. Kavanah, intention, is important.But often we find that doing mitzvot so positively affects us spiritually so that we can’t help ourselves from doing more –– and often for the right reasons.
— Maayan Jaffe