Letter: Golden Ladder of Charity offers lessons today

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:

  1. To give, but reluctantly or grudgingly (a gift of your hand but not of your heart).
  2. To give cheerfully, but not in proportion to the distress of the sufferer.
  3. To give cheerfully and proportionately, but not until you are solicited.
  4. To give cheerfully, proportionately and voluntarily — but directly, so as to embarrass the one in need.
  5. To give your charity so that the needy may know their benefactor, but the giver not know the recipient.
  6. To know the recipients of your charity, but to remain unknown to them.
  7. To bestow charity in such a way that you neither know the recipients nor they their benefactors.
  8. (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.

Paul Jump