No Poor in Purim

Question

Dear Rabbi, I heard there’s a special mitzvah on Purim to give to the poor and would like to know the connection between Purim and giving to the poor on this day. Thanks!

2 years

Answers

  1. In the Book of Esther we learn that the wicked Haman and King Achashverosh decreed genocide on the Jewish People. Therefore, the celebration of Purim is not only a reaffirmation of Judaism, but actually a confirmation of the physical continuity of our nation.

    Therefore, we eat, drink and give gifts of food to one another. In addition, we give special monetary gifts to the poor on this day, so that no one should be lacking and so that everyone should be able to thank God for being alive.

    The mitzvah of giving food to others — called mishloach manot in Hebrew — is for every person to give at least one person two types of food. The mitzvah of giving money to the poor — called matanot la’evyonim in Hebrew — is to give money to at least two poor people.

    These gifts should be given on the day of Purim after the reading of the Megilla. Why? So that the poor will be able to use the food or money immediately in order to fulfill the mitzvah of making and enjoying their own Purim meal.

    Who should one give money to on Purim? One should not be overly-scrutinizing when determining whether a person is poor enough to receive gifts or not. Rather, our Sages taught, “Anyone who extends his hand to take – we should give to him.”

    In some communities children ask for “Purim-gelt” (Purim money).

    Both men and women from the age of bar and bat mitzvah are required to fulfill this mitzvah. A parent may give his older children money to enable to fulfill their mitzvah of giving to the poor, but it’s probably a good idea to encourage them to give their own money (if they have any) — for example, from their allowance, baby-sitting or the like.

    Happy Purim!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team