Ma’alot Tsedaqah and Ordine Caritatis: Orders of Charitable Priority in Maimonides and Aquinas

Journal of Ecumenical Studies. (Spring 2012.)

In the context of works that would become profoundly influential to each scholar’s respective religious tradition, both Moses Maimonides (in his Mishneh Torah) and Thomas Aquinas (in his Summa Theologiae) formulated orders of priority for charitable giving. Similarities and differences between these formulations illuminate broader similarities and differences between Jewish and Christian theological conceptions of the nature of charity. Historically, each faith has tended to denigrate the other’s conception of charity. Differences between Jewish tsedaqah and Christian caritas, however, are not as absolute as each religion’s triumphalist rhetoric would indicate.

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