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.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Motza’ei Tisha Be’av and the Tenth of Av

----------------------------- By Popular Request: According to the Sephardic custom, it is permissible to shave, take a haircut, and do laundry immediately at the conclusion of the fast tonight. Ashkenazim customarily rule leniently in this regard. However, this year (5780), when the Tenth of Av fa......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Taking Haircuts During the “Three Weeks"

The Customary Prohibition of Haircuts As a result of the mourning observed during the “Three Weeks,” the Ashkenazi custom is to abstain from shaving and taking haircuts beginning from the Seventeenth of Tammuz until the Tenth of Av. The Sephardic Custom Nevertheless, the Sephardic c......

Read Halacha


“One Who Finds a Wife Has Found Good”

The Gemara (Berachot 8a) states regarding the verse in Tehillim, “For this let every pious individual pray to you in a time when you may be found”: “Rabbi Chanina said: “In a time when you may be found” refers to one’s wife, as the verse in Mishlei states, ‘......

Read Halacha

When Av Begins, We Diminish Our Joy

This coming Tuesday night and Wednesday will mark Rosh Chodesh Av. May Hashem soon switch it to a month of joy and celebration. The Jewish Nation’s Fortune During the Month of Av Although we customarily implement some mourning customs during the entire “Three Weeks” as we have......

Read Halacha

Tu Be’av

Today marks Tu Be’av, the Fifteenth of Av. The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) states: “Rabban Shimon ben Gamilel said: There were no better days for the Jewish nation than the Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, for on the Fifteenth of Av the young women of Jerusalem would go out we......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Erev Tisha Be’av

The Sefer Ha’Minhagim, authored by Rabbeinu Eizik Tirna, states that one should not leisurely stroll around on Erev Tisha Be’av. The Rama, some great Acharonim, and seemingly Maran Ha’Chida as well, rule accordingly. On Erev Tisha Be’av during the “Seuda Ha’Maf......

Read Halacha