Matanos Lo’evyonim

One of them mitzvos of Purim is to give Matanos lo’evyonim - presents to the poor. This includes giving two presents to two poor people, (one to each person). This is the minimal requirement for fulfilling the mitzvah. The Mishnah Brurah points out that "real happiness" is to cheer up unfortunate people (widows and orphans). It is therefore preferable to spend more money for Matanos lo’evyonim, than for the seudas Purim and Mishloach manos.

Who is a "poor person" eligible for matanos lo’evyonim?
Any person included in the Torah verse "Give him enough to fulfill any lacking he may have". (This can be a person who has the value of two hundred zuz, and therefore is ineligible for certain charities.) The rule is that on Purim we give tzdaka indiscriminately, without investigating the financial status of the recipient, (as opposed to all year round). One however does not fulfill the mitzvah of Matanos lo’evyonim, unless he actually gives it to a poor person.

Matanos lo’evyonim should be given on the day of Purim itself. Rav Moshe Feinstein is quoted as saying that if the Matanos were given on Purim night one has also fulfilled the mitzvah. According to other posskim one fulfills the mitzvah if he gave it to a poor person a few days before Purim, stipulating that it should be used only on Purim.

What is given for Matanos lo’evyonim?
Food or money

How much is a Matonoh?
According to Ritvah, the value of a prutah is sufficient. Others maintain that nowadays a prutah is of little value and is therefore insufficient. Instead one must give enough money enabling to buy food for a meal. Other posskim require giving a large amount which will raise the spirits of the recipients.

Can one give matanos lo’evyonim from Ma’aser money?
No. However once a person already fulfilled the minimal requirements of the mitzvah he may give the rest from ma’aser money.

Both men and woman are obligated to give matanos lo’evyonim.
The purpose of the money (or food) should be so that the poor person will have food for his Purim Seudah.

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