The Law Regarding Women and Mishloach Manot
Women are obligated in all of the Mitzvot of Purim just as men are. Women must therefore also send Mishloach Manot to their friends. The Poskim discuss whether or not a woman can fulfill her obligation through her husband distributing multiple Mishloach Manot packages in her name. The great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a (in his Yalkut Yosef-Purim, Chapter 694) rules that every woman should take care to send at least one Mishloach Manot package on her own (or through an emissary, even if it happens to be her husband) to a friend, neighbor, and the like, as opposed to merely relying on her husband’s distribution.
Matanot La’Evyonim and the Members of the Household
The Poskim discuss whether or not boys and girls above or below the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah still living in their parents’ house are obligated in the Mitzvah of Matanot La’Evyonim on their own. Some say that even children must fulfill this Mitzvah since we are obligated to educate children regarding all Mitzvot. Others claim, however, that since one must donate Matanot La’Evyonim from one’s own money and younger children or sometimes even teenagers do not have their own money, they are completely exempt from this Mitzvah. Although there is room to lean in either direction, Hagaon Yalkut Yosef (ibid. page 623) rules that it is correct to educate even younger children (who have reached the age of six or seven) in this Mitzvah. It is nevertheless sufficient for the father to tell his son or daughter, “See that I am giving Matanot La’Evyonim on your behalf.”
Regarding children above the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the Yalkut Yosef rules that they must donate Matanot La’Evyonim. He quotes the words of Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l that the amount of money to be donated really depends on the donor and the recipient. Once, a Yeshiva boy asked him how much he must donate as Matanot La’Evyonim and the Rav replied, “Your father would fulfill his obligation with fifty shekels in the most preferable manner but for you, even half a shekel may be too much.”
Giving Matanot La’Evyonim to a Child
One fulfills one’s obligation of Matanot La’Evyonim when donating it to a child. (ibid. page 629)
A Poor Man Regarding the Mitzvah of Matanot La’Evyonim
Even a pauper who is supported by Tzedakah funds must donate Matanot La’Evyonim. The Bayit Chadash (Chapter 694) writes that Matanot La’Evyonim is not like the general Mitzvah of Tzedakah in that it is a Mitzvah dedicated specifically to Purim, similar to the Mitzvah of drinking the Four Cups of Wine on the Seder night that a poor man must fulfill as well. Although there are some dissenting opinions, Maran Ha’Chida concurs with the Bayit Chadash’s opinion in his Birkei Yosef and the Halacha indeed follows this view.
Donating this Money on Purim Day
Matanot La’Evyonim must be donated on Purim day. Nowadays, there are many Tzedakah organizations that deal with this matter and distribute the funds on Purim day. However, if one is in a place where the are no Jewish paupers, one must separate and designate this money as Tzedakah on Purim day and keep it in a safe place to be distribute to the poor at a later time. (See Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 694)
Although Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l would distribute Matanot La’Evyonim on Purim to the many people that would come before him, nevertheless, one year, he decided to donate his Matanot La’Evyonim funds to a certain needy Kollel man. That year, however, that Kollel man did not make it to Maran zt”l’s home on Purim. Since Maran zt”l very much wanted to give the money to this individual because he knew him to be especially needy, he sent an emissary to this man the next day (the day after Purim) with several hundred shekels as Matanot La’Evyonim.