The Halachos of Matanos La’evyonim


coins1) It is a Mitzva to give “Matanos L’Evyonim- gifts to the poor” on Purim day.
If the money was given to the poor person before Purim for use on Purim [for his meal], according to many Poskim, you have satisfied your obligation, B’Dieved. (See Pri Megadim based on Mogen Avraham 694:1 that the whole reason not to give before Purim day is that the poor person may use it before Purim)Every Jew- male and female- is required to give 2 “Matanos- gifts” to 2 separate “Evyonim- poor people” (i.e. one gift to each poor person). By giving 2 gifts to one poor person, you do not satisfy your obligation of this Mitzvah.

Matanos L’Evyonim may not be given from Ma’aser money. However, once 2 gifts were given to 2 poor people, any additional gifts that you give to poor people on Purim may be given from Ma’aser money. (Mishna Berura 694:3)

The more Tzedaka you give to poor people on Purim, the more praiseworthy you are! It is better to give additional Matanos L’Evyonim than to give extra Mishloach Manos or to increase the Seudas Purim, because …”There is no greater or loftier Simcha than to gladden the hearts of the poor, widows, orphans and converts. One who gladdens the hearts of these downtrodden people is likened to the Shechina (!)” (Words of the Rambam Hilchos Megilah Perek 2 Halacha 17)

2) You may not combine the Mitzvos of Mishloach Manos and matanos L’Evyonim, by giving Mishloach Manos to a poor person. They each must be given independently of each other. (See Turei Even to Megilah 7b, quoted in Biur Halacha 695 Dibur HaMaschil O Shel Minei Ochlin and Ksav Sofer Siman 139 that B’dieved it is possible that you are indeed Yotzei. )

Part II:

1) Matanos L’Evyonim does not necessarily need to be with money, as one can satisfy the obligation by giving the poor person food which he can eat on Purim.

However, giving clothing or other non food gifts to a poor person, is not an acceptable form of Matanos L’Evyonim according to most Poskim (See Ohr SaMeach Hilchos Megilah Perek 2 Halacha 16. See Turei Even Megilah 7b. See Mishna Berura 494:2)

2) When it comes to giving Matanos L’Evyonim, it is best not to be too scrupulous in determining if the poor person is truly deserving of Tzedaka, as on Purim we stick to the tradition of “Kol HaPoshet Yad Nosnim Lo- whoever stretches out their arm [asking for help] we give them”. (Shulchan Aruch Siman 694:3).

The Sefarim say that Hashem, too, abides by this method on Purim and all who stretch out their hands to Him [i.e. whatever we daven for] will be answered! Purim is an extremely opportune time to daven for things that we need. It is advisable not to squander this opportunity by focusing too much on “getting drunk” and having fun at the expense of not utilizing the spiritual powers of this holy day properly.

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  1. Very powerful Rambam you quoted.

    I wish more people would focus on the Matanos Levyonim and not on the “out of hand” themed shalach manos etc.