Saturday, May 21, 2005

Quick and worthwhile

I just finished Rambam's Ladder, A Meditation on Generosity and Why It is Important to Give, by Julie Salamon. My good friend Carol Weisman recommended it to me. Liked the book a lot and it really made me think about the ways that my family and I give, our motivations and what's really best. One quote that got me: "Give a homeless person a blanket and you are killing them."

Hmmm. Really? The quote is not from the author, but from a person she interviews. There are a couple of dozen stories of people through the book, some of which turned out differently than I expected....all of them are intended to make the reader think.

The ladder of the title is a creation of Rambam, a medieval Jewish scholar and physician whose given name was Maimonides. The eight rung ladder starts at its lowest rung with the giver who gives grudgingly and unhappily, moves up through a variety of levels to the top rung, the giver who helps someone become independent and no longer in need of help.

It's a quick and interesting read. And, for those of us in the helping professions, particularly if you are in a job where you have to ask people for donations of their time, talent, and/or treasure, it's a read worth making.

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