Giving Grudgingly

Has someone asked you for something and you have grudgingly agreed or wholeheartedly agreed but then something changed and it became difficult to follow through?

Whale Watching cruise
Sunset before docking at Friday Harbor









Last week, while we were on our family vacation in the San Juan islands north of Seattle, we enjoyed a lovely whale watching cruise. My husband took hundreds of photos and a stranger asked if he would send her all of his photos. He had assumed he would just pick out the best ones and email them to her, but when she called to inquire about whether he could get her the photos she told us she had no email and would like us to snail mail her a disc. For whatever reason, this became a chore for my husband and suddenly he was very unhappy about this prospect. When we discussed it further, I realized he didn’t want to deal with all the mailing aspects – finding an appropriate mailer, postage etc. I offered to do that part of it (a no brainer for me) and all he needed to do was burn the disc (a no brainer for him). Together, we were able to find a happy medium to follow through on this request to share the photos with this stranger.

The lesson I learned from this scenario, is that sometimes  we aren’t happy or excited to give for whatever reason. It happens to all of us. Giving grudgingly or unwillingly according to Maimonides Ladder of Giving is actually the lowest form of giving. (See previous post on Maimonides Ladder of Giving.) Being able to say no to a request initially or consciously figuring out why we don’t want to give and perhaps shifting our thoughts about this can provide beneficial. Ultimately, it may even  lift our giving back up to a higher level.


Anonymous giving – Maimonides Levels of Giving

Cover article today in the Oregonian was about a $40 million dollar anonymous donation to Oregon Health Science University to help with buildings on our waterfront.

My husband who is currently employed at this University and I spoke about such an incredibly generous and anonymous gift. I was curious if the donor would still receive the IRS benefits of the gift. My husband’s reply was yes the donation is anonymous to the public but not to the IRS.

Thought this was a perfect time to share the ideas of levels of giving charity. There are in Judaism higher levels based on how tzedakah (charity) it is given.

The levels of charity, from the least meritorious to the most meritorious according to Maimonides, one of the greatest medieval Jewish scholars are:

  1. Giving begrudgingly
  2. Giving less that you should, but giving it cheerfully.
  3. Giving after being asked
  4. Giving before being asked
  5. Giving when you do not know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient knows your identity
  6. Giving when you know the recipient’s identity, but the recipient doesn’t know your identity
  7. Giving when neither party knows the other’s identity
  8. Enabling the recipient to become self-reliant