Maimonides' Eight Levels (Private-Religious)

9, 10, 11, 12

This lesson will teach Maimonides’ (Rambam’s) Eight Levels of Charity as quoted in the Mishneh Torah, his book of Jewish laws and concepts. The learner will understand the Eight Levels of Charity, the reasons behind the hierarchy, and how these levels apply to today’s world.

PrintTwo to Three - Fifty Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify and understand Eight Levels of Charity.
  • understand the rationale for each of the Eight Levels of Charity and the hierarchical order of them.
  • identify and learn about community, national, and/or worldwide organizations that help people find jobs and careers.
  • participate in an activity that he/she will identify as achieving one of the Eight Levels Charity.
  • Attachment One: Maimonides Eight Levels of Charity; one for each learner
  • Attachment Two:Teacher’s Guide
  • Eight index cards with each level written on a separate card
  • Package of lined paper
  • Eight copies of a listing of local charitable organizations
  • Attachment Three: Poster Board Ladder Sections,cut into ladder sections
  • Colored markers, pens, and/or pencils
Home Connection 

Invite parents and family members to the come and observe or participate in the implementation event of the class’ selected idea of charity.



  1. Anticipatory Set:Write the proverbial saying “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime” on the display board. Give the learners some time to read and reflect on this quote. Ask them to try and explain what the message of this quote is. After several minutes of discussion, ask them if they subscribe to this belief. By the end of the class discussion, it should be known to them that this is a prominent theme in Judaism and Jewish literature.


  2. Distribute Attachment One: Maimoides'Eight Levels of Charity

  3. Have the class read each level aloud.

  4. Lead a class discussion about each level and why there is a hierarchy in giving charity. Questions to ask shouldinclude:

    1. Is Maimonides arguing that the lower levels are “bad”? Is he arguing that if one gives unwillingly then it is not worth giving at all?Teacher Note: While it is desirable to strive to give the highest level of charity, giving charity in general, whether unwillingly or without knowing the person to whom you are giving, is admirable and considered a Mitzvah according to Rambam.
    2. Why is teaching a trade/job skill the highest Level of Charity?
    3. How would you categorize giving money to homeless people on the streets?Teacher Note: It depends on if the homeless person asked first, or if you gave first, if you smiled when giving, or if you reluctantly put your hand in your pockets and threw down change. See Attachment Two:Teacher’s Guide for additional discussion topics.
  5. Arrange the class into eight groups and assign one of the Eight Levels of Charity to each group.

  6. Distribute a “ladder section” of the poster board to each group (See Attachment Three), along with one of the index cards.

  7. Have each group draw or create a picture, collage or scene depicting their assigned Level of Charity.

  8. Reconstruct the poster board “ladder” as a whole and display the artwork in the school or in the classroom.

  9. Distribute a copy of the listing of the charitable organizations in the local area to the each group. Have each group select one of the charitable organizations that they will contact.Teacher Note: Prior to the start of this class obtain a listing of Charitable Organizations in your community. This listing could be obtained by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, IRS Web site telephone book.

  10. Distribute paper and pens and have each group brainstorm ways in which they can help out the organization they selected. Have each group decide on one specific method (give money, volunteer time, spread awareness, donate food, etc.) they will use to help this organization.

  11. Have each group write their specific method idea on the sheet of paper and identify which of the Eight Levels of Charity fits with their specific method of helping.

  12. Each group will present to the class their identified charitable organization, their specific method of helping that organization, and identify which of the Eight Levels of Charity fits with their specific method of helping.

  13. The class will vote on the best idea (or the teacher will choose based on convenience) and the class will implement that idea of charity (whether it is designating a class period to volunteer, donate canned goods, or write encouraging letters, etc).


The learners will be assessed based on their participation in class discussions, their art project, and their presentation--which includes their identification of their selected charitable organization, their identified specific method of helping that organization, and their correct identification to which of the Eight Levels of Charity fits with their specific method of helping.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will be put into groups and each group will choose one of several charitable organizations.They will write letters, volunteer time, donate goods or money, or help to promote awareness of that organization.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Give examples of how civil society sector giving by individuals and corporations can impact communities.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.6 Trace the historic roots of philanthropy and give an example of charity and of philanthropy.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Describe and compare stewardship in a variety of cultural traditions.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
    2. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Build a case for giving, explaining why resources (volunteers and money) are needed.