Eight Degrees of Charity:
(Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Presents to the Poor)
1. The greatest level, above which there is no other, is to strengthen the name of another Jew by
giving him a present or loan, or making a partnership with him, or finding him a job in order to strengthen his hand until he
need no longer beg from people. For it is said, "You shall strengthen the stranger and the dweller in your midst
and live with him," [Leviticus XXV.35] that is to say, strengthen him until he need no longer fall [upon the mercy
of the community] or be in need.
2. Below this is the one who gives tzedaka to the poor, but does not know to whom he gives, nor does the
recipient know his benefactor. For this is performing a mitzva for the sake of Heaven. This is like the Secret
[Anonymous] Office in the Temple. There the righteous gave in secret, and the good poor profited in secret.
This is much like giving tzedaka through a tzedaka box. One should not put into the box unless he knows that
the one responsible for the box is faithful and wise and a proper leader like Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon.
3. Below this is one who knows to whom he gives, but the recipient does not know his
benefactor. The greatest sages used to walk about in secret and put coins in the doors of the poor. It is worthy and truly good to
do this if those who are responsible for collecting tzedaka are not trustworthy.
4. Below this is one who does not know to whom he gives, but the poor person does know his
benefactor. The greatest sages used to pack coins into their sheets and roll them up behind them and the poor would come
up and pick the coins out of the sheets so that they would not be ashamed.
5. Below this is one who gives to the poor person before being asked.
6. Below this is one who gives to the poor person after being asked.
7. Below this is one who gives to the poor person gladly and with a smile.
8. Below this is one who gives to the poor person unwillingly.