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The Attitude of Giving in Rambam’s Obligations to the Poor Essay

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Rambam’s “Obligations to the Poor” from the Mishneh Torah help us understand how we should interact with the people who are less fortunate than us. As Professor Isador Twersky has said, “Maimonides’ [treatment of tzedakah] illustrates the need for sensitivity, tact, and graciousness in the act of charity. The formal, objective act of giving charity is deficient and defective if it is not characterized by kindness and sympathy.” This directly relates to the chapter in the Mishnah that we have been studying in Rabbinic Literature. The quote said by Professor Twersky is highlighting not only the physical aspects of giving tzedakah, but also more the idea that we emotionally need to feel a certain way when giving tzedakah. We cannot just…show more content…
One should not harden their heart, but instead be friendly and feel like they want to help the person that they are giving to. Another example of this is if one sees a poor person walking down the street and they purposefully turn their head so that they do not see them and therefore they do not have to give tzedakah. The enduring understanding here is if someone sees a poor person, it is not enough to just give them money because that is not fulfilling the obligation to help them with what they really may need. One must figure out what the person really needs. This relates to Professor Twersky’s quote because it addresses the issue of having compassion behind the giving of tzedakah. If one does not show kindness towards the poor person (not putting forth care towards what they actually need), then it is as if the mitzvah is void, and we have not actually helped the person in need. In halachah gimel (ג), we see explicit examples of what we are supposed to give a poor person depending on what they are lacking. Rambam gives us examples; if they are naked, we are supposed to give them clothes, if they are lacking household appliances, get them the necessary ones that they need. Also, if he doesn’t have a wife, get him married. If the poor person previous rode horses and had a servant run before them, then that is what one must get for them. We are trying to make them feel the least embarrassed, most
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