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Purim – The Importance and Obligation of Matanot La’ebyonim
The Misva of Matanot La’ebyonim requires giving gifts to at least two poor people on Purim. How much is one required to give in order to fulfill this Misva?

The Ritba (Rabbi Yom Tob Ben Abraham of Seville, Spain, 1250-1330) writes that according to the strict Halacha, one fulfills the obligation with even a minimal donation. Even if one gives a single Peruta (coin) to two poor individuals, he fulfills his Misva. Other authorities maintain that one must give higher amounts. The most stringent view that we find among the Aharonim (later Halachic authorities) is that of the Zera Yaakob, who ruled that one must give the value of three Ke’besim – or approximately 6 oz. – of bread. Needless to say, this does not amount to all that much. An average pita generally constitutes 2-4 oz., and thus even according to the most stringent view, the Misva of Matanot La’ebyonim requires giving two people the cost of 2-3 pitas, which is, of course, a very small amount.

However, this applies only on the level of strict Halachic obligation. The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204) writes that the primary Misva of Purim is assisting the poor, and this Misva should be given priority over the other obligations of the holiday. Therefore, the Rambam rules, a person with a limited budget for the Purim festivities should reduce his spending on his Purim feast and Mishlo’ah Manot, and increase his spending on Matanot La’ebyonim. There is no greater joy, the Rambam writes, than assisting the poor and enabling them to rejoice and celebrate the holiday. As such, even though the strict obligation requires giving only a small amount, it is proper, and customary, to distribute charity generously to the poor for Purim. Baruch Hashem, members of our community give significant amounts of charity for Matanot La’ebyonim and ensure to fulfill this Misva at the highest standard.

One fulfills the Misva of Matanot La’ebyonim only during the day of Purim, and not on the night of Purim. While it is certainly commendable to give charity at any time, including the night of Purim, one must ensure to give some charity during Purim day to fulfill the Misva.

One fulfills the Misva of Matanot La’ebyonim even if the recipient does not know where the money came from. There are some authorities who claimed that since this donation is referred to with the term "Matanot" (gifts), the recipient must be aware of who gave him the charity, as a gift, by definition, involves knowing who gave it. Halacha, however, does not follow this opinion, as it is perfectly acceptable and even preferable to give charity anonymously. Therefore, one certainly fulfills the Misva by giving charity to a third party, such as to an organization, a charity collector or a Rabbi, who then distributes the funds to the poor on Purim.

Summary: Strictly speaking, one fulfills the Misva of Matanot La’ebyonim on Purim by giving a small amount of money to the poor – even just a dollar or two – but since Matanot La’ebyonim is seen as the primary Misva of Purim, it is proper to give more substantial amounts. Furthermore, one should prioritize Matanot La’ebyonim over his Purim meal and Mishlo’ah Manot when determining his budget for Purim. One fulfills this Misva only during the day, not at night. It is perfectly acceptable, and preferable, to give the money to a third party who then distributes it to the poor.

***Rabbi Eli Mansour can fulfill your obligation of Matanot Laevyonim on your behalf. Simply go to and click the Matanot Laevyonim banner on the home page. Fill in the form, click submit, and you will have fulfilled the misva.