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Category: Holidays / Topics: Character, Integrity Charity Gratitute Holidays Thanks, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving

A Rabbi and an Actor Give Thanks

by David Noreen

Posted: May 30, 2015

Lessons from Moses Maimonides and Charlton Heston on giving and thanksgiving…

 This article was originally written by Dave Noreen as a Thanksgiving reflection. He provided it to help relaunch SeniorLifestyle in May 2015. 

Sometime in the 1200’s, Moses Maimonides offered an approach to charitable giving which is still relevant for citizens of the 21st Century.   Eight hundred years later, Charlton Heston was known for giving voice to his beliefs, as well as his gifts for acting.

The Rabbi, who was also a physician and philosopher, told his students that there were “several rungs on the ladder of charitable giving”.  ( Perhaps you’ve never thought of  gift-giving in this way.)   His model might help us review our motivations for donating time and money, or consider personal philanthropy with a new spirit and attitude.

The first rung is reserved for those who give rather grudgingly…from the hand, but not the heart, while those on the second rung give from the heart, but below their capabilities.  The third rung, says the Rabbi, is reserved for people who give cheerfully, and in adequate amounts, but only after being asked.  This marks the level of many donors…giving cheerfully, and with an open heart.

As people ‘climb the ladder’ those on the fourth level are wonderful donors who give before being asked.  They identity community needs and give proactively.  Toward the top of the giving ladder are those donors who give anonymously to unknown recipients, while sixth rung folks are pretty rare…donors who donate money or resources toward helping persons become self-reliant and out of unfortunate conditions.  (e.g., poverty or education)

The Rabbi’s ladder metaphor helps us focus on our own “giving questions”, like,  Why give, in the first place? How much is required for our own needs?  What are the causes  which have priority?  Should a portion of my gift be a source of inspiration to others? 

Charlton Heston was a “giving person”.  He gave an outstanding presentation at a college scholarship banquet.  It was on his favorite subject on “what Americans ought to be giving back to our country for being so blessed.”   Read again, part of his Thanksgiving prayer:

Our lives are gifts from God, given a day at a time.
Only today is in my hands, to do with as best I can.
Yesterday is gone, beyond reach and beyond change.
I can only learn from it.  Tomorrow and all it holds is God’s secret.
Even its coming is not sure.  Only today is mine.
God, help me to do with it what will please you.
Let me do well enough that I can offer it with pride and joy…
… And deep Thanksgiving.

Rev. David Noreen is retired, but remains active in senior ministry, especially in the area of stewardship. He served as Administrator of Christian Education for the Evangelical Covenant Church and before that as a pastor in the Midwest.

E-mail the author (moc.loa@neerond*)

* For web-based email, you may need to copy and paste the address yourself.

Posted: May 30, 2015   Accessed 636 times

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