Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World (New York: Random House, 2007), p. 39.
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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.
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Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What does dignity mean to a poor person?

2. When giving, especially if to a beggar or someone in public, how do we do so while maintaining that person's dignity? Or do we never give in public to avoid that?

3. On a deeper level, what does the African proverb tell us about the human condition?

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Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)