Last week, we talked about the importance of giving tzedakah and that the money we have comes from God. We also noted that Maimonides, the 12th-century Jewish rabbi and scholar, codified eight levels of giving in his work The Mishnah Torah.
This week we look at Number Eight: Giving charity unwillingly.
What does this refer to? It refers to the person who gives tzedakah when asked, but with a mean face. It is a person who is not motivated by love for his recipient, but by a sense of guilt or obligation.
Level seven: Giving less than the person needs and than you can afford, but with a smile on your face.
According to Maimonides, it is better to give less with love than more with hate. A person who is face-to-face with his recipient should keep in mind the recipient’s feelings and accompany his donation with kind words and an encouraging smile.
The Sages teach it is God’s job to take care of His children, give them food and clothes. If we give tzedakah, we are doing God’s work, mirroring His actions, and He will look favorably upon us and then help us.