Halacha for Thursday 2 Adar 5780 February 27 2020

Matanot La’Evyonim

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper.

What Must One Give?
In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to donate money to the needy so that they will have the means to purchase food for the Purim feast.

How Much Must One Donate?
One who is G-d-fearing should distribute Matanot La’Evyonim generously and joyfully and one’s reward will be great indeed. How much must a person donate as Matanot La’Evyonim? Although the letter of the law dictates that there is no set amount for this gift and one fulfills his obligation by giving even a few cents per pauper, nevertheless, it is preferable to spend more on Matanot La’Evyonim then on the Purim feast or Mishloach Manot. One should preferably give enough so that the pauper will be able to make use of the sum for the Purim feast.

The Difference Between Mishloach Manot and Matanot La’Evyonim
In the previous Halacha we have explained that Mishloach Manot must be sent in a way where the recipient knows who the sender is and the sender knows who the recipient of his gifts is. This is because the primary reason behind Mishloach Manot is in order to increase camaraderie among the Jewish nation. Regarding Matanot La’Evyonim, on the other hand, it is indeed permissible to send these gifts to the poor anonymously such that the donor and recipient do not know each other’s identities.

Similarly, whereas regarding Mishloach Manot one must send actual food gifts (or beverages), regarding Matanot La’Evyonim this is not the case and one may donate money instead.

The Importance of Matanot La’Evyonim
The Rambam (Chapter 2 of Hilchot Megillah) writes: “One must send one’s friend two portions of meat or two cooked foods or two food items, as the verse states, ‘And sending portions to one another,’ which means two potions to one person. The more friends one sends to, the more praiseworthy one is. One must also distribute monetary gifts or food items to the poor on Purim day, no less than one gift to two poor people, as the verse states, ‘And gifts to the poor’. It is more important for one to distribute more gifts to the poor than to spend a large amount on one’s feast or send food portions to many friends, for there is no greater and more splendid joy than gladdening the hearts of the poor, orphans, widows, and converts; one who gladdens these downtrodden souls is comparable to the holy presence of Hashem Himself, as the verse states, ‘To revive the spirit of the downtrodden and to revive the soul of the oppressed.’”

Giving this Money To Charity Treasures
One who gives money to a charity treasurer who will subsequently distribute this sum to the needy on Purim day on the donor’s behalf has fulfilled his obligation, since “one’s messenger is tantamount to himself.” This is the prevalent custom today as many people give their Matanot La’Evyonim to trustworthy agents and they in turn distribute the money on the donors’ behalf on Purim day. It is actually proper to fulfill the Mitzvah in this way rather than to give the money to such people whom one cannot ascertain if they are genuinely needy or not.

Care should nevertheless be taken to donate this money to charity treasurers or organizations run by people who are known to be of impeccable honesty and integrity as opposed to relying on just any organization blindly.

8 Halachot Most Popular

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

“Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (The Twelfth Blessing of the Amida)

Question: In the Blessing regarding the heretics in the daily Amida prayer, how should one end the twelfth blessing: “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Zedim” (He who smashes enemies and humbles the wicked) or “Shover Oyevim U’Machnia Minim” (He who smashes enemies and humb......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha


How One Should Conduct Himself in the Morning

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 5) states: “Yehuda ben Tema says: Be bold like a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and mighty as a lion to perform the will of your father in Heaven.” Let us now explain this Mishnah. The Tanna writes that one must be as “bold as a ......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha

Deceit and Trickery

One may not deceive or trick others when it comes to monetary transactions. Monetary Deceit If one knows that one’s merchandise is flawed or faulty, one must reveal this to the buyer. For instance, if one wishes to sell his home and he knows that the ceiling is full of mold because of a bu......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha