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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 27, 2006 / 27 Adar, 5766

Priority in charitable giving

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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Since our resources are limited, we can't help everyone in the world. Who do we help first?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: Our community has a charity fund, but there are many opinions on how we should distribute them. Some say we should focus on members of our congregation, while others go so far as to favor aid to developing nations. What does Jewish tradition state?


A: Jewish law recognizes that any needy person who lives in peaceful coexistence with us is a worthy charity recipient. The Talmud teaches that we should help support the poor even outside our own community, because of the "ways of peace". (1)


At the same time, the vast number of needy people and our limited resources mean that we have to establish priorities. Our Sages learn that the language of the Torah itself contains the key to these priorities.


"When there will be a needy person from among your brethren, in one of your gates in your land that the Lord your G-d has given you, don't harden your heart and don't close your hand from your needy brother. Surely open your hand and lend him according to his need that is lacking to him" (Deuteronomy 15:7-8).


Rashi's commentary points out that the description of the poor person uses the relatively unusual word "needy," indicating that the neediest individuals come first. And the mention of "your gates" indicates that the poor of your city precede those from other cities.


A similar inference is made from a verse in Exodus (22:24). "When you lend to my people, to the poor among you, don't dun him for the debt; don't impose usury." As Rashi explains, this teaches that "my people" precede members of other nations, while the word "poor" shows that a poor person precedes a better off one, even though even a wealthy person may sometimes be in need of temporary aid. "Among you" — the poor of your city come before those of other places.


From both sources we can see the special value of giving loans, rather than outright gifts. Jewish law considers loans as generally the highest form of charity. Among the advantages of loans: they don't embarrass the recipient; they represent a "vote of confidence" that the person will eventually establish himself; and they don't cultivate dependency to the same extent as gifts do. Of course there are many cases where loans are impractical, but the above verses do remind us of their special value when applicable.


One reason why "charity begins at home" is a practical one. Since our resources are limited, we can't reasonably help everyone in the world, so we might as well start with the people who are closest to us, whose needs we can most easily evaluate, and who are most likely to be able to reciprocate the need as people's fortunes are subject to vicissitudes. The Talmud learns from the same passage in Deuteronomy that "Poverty is a turning wheel" — today's donor may be tomorrow's recipient. (2)


But there is also a deeper reason to favor those close to us. In many places we find that the commandment of charity is carried out in a way which cultivates our feeling of generosity. This is best done with the people closest to us. A similar message is found in the verse "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). While it would have been enough to command "Love your neighbor," the addition "as yourself" reminds us that a person who doesn't love himself will find it hard to love his neighbor. Likewise, a person who doesn't show genuine concern for members of his own community will find it hard to sustain feelings of concern beyond it. So the laws of charity mandate a set of "concentric circles" of concern.


So for a community charity fund, the main emphasis in charitable giving should be on the local community, and for cases of real deprivation. When congregation members are in significant need they should have priority over outsiders. Some lesser but still meaningful amount should also be earmarked for other needy individuals in your area and for cases of extreme deprivation beyond, so that we can also promote the ways of peace.


SOURCES:: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Gittin 59b. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Shabbas 151b

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


Previously:

Trolls and ogres
How many hours of work is too many?
Can I promote my product by having it unobtrusively written into a story?
He's not heavy he's my brother
All's fair in war?, II
All's fair in war?
Girth vs. worth
Is it proper to tax bequests?
Ethics of Being Overweight
Penalized for working swiftly
When is it a bluff?
'Rate and switch'
My paycheck is late!
Should schools cater to an elite?
All's fair in love?
Comfort and Competition
Do I need the caller's permission to put a call on the speakerphone?
Overtime for lost time
Is it unethical to play suppliers against each other to get the lowest bid possible?
Do family members have precedence in charity allotments?
What the world of business can teach us about our annual process of repentance and renewal
Are religious leaders subject to criticism?
Vindictive Vendor: How can I punish an abusive competitor?
Blogging Ethics: Is the blogger responsible for defamatory posts?







© 2005, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics