Kudos to Rabbi Yehoshua Berman for his article, “An Ounce of Prevention” (Features, February 21, 2018), which addressed the importance of helping people break out of the poverty cycle or, better yet, guiding them financially so that they do not reach the tzedakah recipient rolls to begin with. Though everyone knows that the Rambam deems giving a person financial independence the highest form of tzedakah, Rabbi Berman is promoting the practical application of this axiom.
Aside from the obvious value of sparing a person the shame of being a charity recipient, we are not only helping him and his family establish financial independence, perhaps for generations to come, we are also helping others. When he pays tuition, we are helping mosdos. And, in addition, he himself will end up giving tzedakah. So with the initial effort to get him on track, we have provided the person with a long-term, healthy resolution and will help the community many times over.
Rabbi Berman relates that he found a Rav here and a friend there who have succeeded in putting financially strapped people back on their feet. Fortunately, there is at least one worldwide movement that is implementing this goal with hundreds and thousands of families. Mesila has developed comprehensive financial coaching services, complete with original subject material and intensive coach training, which have proven to be effective in helping people achieve their goals of financial stability. The program is available at our branches in several major Jewish population centers and, via phone or Skype, to anyone, anywhere. We also offer communities a series of lectures and workshops, as well as financial awareness education that instills the right attitudes towards money and spending from Day One — in schools, seminaries and yeshivos around the world.
Shmuli Margulies, Mesila Chairman