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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

Entitlement Vs. Charity

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. In a recent column you suggested that getting money from a government program is better than taking charity. What is the difference?


A. Recently I suggested that giving a sum of money as unemployment insurance is better than giving it as a charitable donation. One simple reason is that government programs are anonymous, and they don't depend on the good will of the taxpayer. Therefore, the recipient doesn't have to feel personally beholden to any individual.

Maimonides writes that the highest level of charity is not to give charity at all, but rather to help a person remain independent. But he then continues:

Less than that is one who gives charity to the poor and he doesn't know to whom he gave and the poor person doesn't know from whom he took. For this is a good deed for its own sake. . . And similar to this would be one who gives to a charity fund. (1)

So at the very least a government program is preferable to an outright gift from this point of view.

However, there is also another difference. Our Sages teach us that whenever possible we should strive not to take charity at all:

Rabbi Akiva said, one should [even] make the Sabbath like an ordinary weekday rather than accept from others. (2)

A little later in the same chapter we find:

Rav said to Rav Kahana . . . flay hides in the marketplace for wages, but don't say, "I am a priest, I am a distinguished person, and it is beneath me [to do such work]. (3)

And the Mishna states:


Letter from JWR publisher


Anyone who doesn't need yet takes, will not leave the world until he becomes dependent on others. And anyone who needs but doesn't take, will not die [even of] old age until he is able to support others. (Of course this does not apply to someone whose need is dire who is required to accept charity.)(4)

However, I believe that none of these dicta apply to social insurance programs that are not means-tested. In programs like unemployment insurance or social security, a person pays in money in order to be eligible for the benefit. When he becomes eligible, it is not because he is needy but merely because he is entitled to what he paid for.

In fact, I would say that these statements do not apply to any program that is not means tested, as long as no subterfuge is involved in obtaining eligibility. If the citizens of some polity decide to tax everybody in order to confer some benefit on certain citizens for some worthy cause, we may agree or disagree with the decision but it is not like giving charity to some wretched needy person.

The continuation of the above Mishna condemns someone who pretends to be lame in order to obtain charity. But a person who really does have some disability is perfectly entitled to enjoy a government benefit designed to help people with such a problem. This would in fact be the highest level of charity: giving to someone as a gift without conditioning it in any way on poverty, so that there is no stigma.

Citizens can have legitimate disagreement on the proper extent of government programs and aid to various interest groups. However, once these programs are legitimately agreed upon there is no stigma involved in benefiting from them, as long as no kind of subterfuge is involved (even if it is short of fraud). There is even no hypocrisy involved in voting against a program and subsequently benefiting from it. After all, a person who votes against a program is not exempt from paying taxes for it, and so there is no reason he should feel disqualified from benefiting if he is eligible.


SOURCES: (1) Maimonides' Code, Gifts to the Poor 10:8. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 112a. (3) Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 113a. (4) Mishna, Peah 8:9

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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.

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