To the editor:
A modest rejoinder to Nov. 12’s “Forcing taxpayers to support charity wrong” column, based on philosopher Moses Maimonides’ “Golden Ladder of Charity” in the 12th century:
Progressively, the degrees of true charity in your giving are:
- To give, but reluctantly or grudgingly (a gift of your hand but not of your heart).
- To give cheerfully, but not in proportion to the distress of the sufferer.
- To give cheerfully and proportionately, but not until you are solicited.
- To give cheerfully, proportionately and voluntarily — but directly, so as to embarrass the one in need.
- To give your charity so that the needy may know their benefactor, but the giver not know the recipient.
- To know the recipients of your charity, but to remain unknown to them.
- To bestow charity in such a way that you neither know the recipients nor they their benefactors.
- (The highest rung on “The Golden Ladder”) To anticipate charity by preventing poverty — teaching your brothers or sisters a trade, or providing employment or working for social justice.