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Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World (New York: Random House, 2007), p. 39.
Even a person dependent on tzedakah must himself or herself give tzedakah. On the face of it, the rule is absurd. Why give X enough money so that he can give to Y? Giving to Y directly is more logical and efficient. What the rabbis understood, however, is that giving is an essential part of human dignity. As an African proverb puts it: 'The hand that gives is always uppermost; the hand that receives is always lower.' The rabbinc insistence that the community provide the poor with enough money so that they themselves can give is a profound insight into the human condition.
Suggested Discussion Questions:
1. What does dignity mean to a poor person?
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