How much is one to give towards Matanas Laevyonim?


How much must one give for Matanos Laevyonim?
Some Poskim[1] rule that the minimum amount for Matanos Laevyonim is a Peruta. Thus, if one gives the equivalent of a peruta worth to each pauper he has fulfilled his obligation. [This is a very minimal amount, being worth today, Adar 5777, merely 2 cents or 6 Agurot.[2]] However, other Poskim[3] rule that the present must contain a minimum worth of three Kibeitzim of food [165 grams]. This means that if one gives money, it must be enough money for each of the two paupers to buy three Kibeitzim [165 grams] worth of food. If he gives food, then the food given to each of the two paupers must consist of three Kibeitzim [165 grams] of bread. [This adds up to approximately 60 cents in the USA, or 1 shekel and 20 Agurot in Israel.[4]] Practically one is to be stringent like this latter opinion.[5]


May one use Maaser money for Matanos Laevyonim?[6]
The minimal amount required to fulfill the Mitzvah of Matanos Laevyonim may not be given from money set aside for Maaser. However, any additional amount that one gives to a pauper may be distributed from Maaser. [Some[7] rule that the money given to the first two paupers may not include any Maaser money, and only when distributing to more than two paupers can one use Maaser money for the third pauper and onwards.]

Matanos Laevyonim:

  • The Mitzvah: Every Jew is obligated to give at least two presents to two paupers, [one present to each pauper].
  • Who is obligated? Both men and women are obligated in the Mitzvah of Matanos Laevyonim. Married women are to be stringent to give Matanos Laevyonim on behalf of themselves, in addition to the Matanos Laevyonim sent by their husband. All family members must send their own personal Matanos Laevyonim and cannot rely on their parents, even if they are still being supported by them and live in their home. Children above the age of Chinuch are to be educated to give Matanos Laevyonim. If one is in doubt as to whether the child has reached the age of Chinuch one is to be stringent.
  • May men distribute Matanos Laevyonim to female paupers and vice versa? The gifts may be sent to any Jew whether male or female. Thus a man may give to a woman that is a pauper and vice versa. It is permitted for even food to be given as Matanos Laevyonim from a man to a woman and vice versa.
  • When on Purim is one to distribute the Matanos Laevyonim? Matanos Laevyonim is to be given on Purim during daytime. One who sent Matanos Laevyonim on the night of Purim does not fulfill his obligation. [Based on Kabala it is to be given after the Megillah reading, as opposed to beforehand. However others write it is to be distributed before Davening.] One may send Matanos Laevyonim to a pauper before Purim if the charity will arrive to him on Purim. If however it will arrive before Purim, one does not fulfill his obligation.
  • To how many paupers must one give present? One is obligated to give at least two presents to two poor people, one present to each pauper. It is a greater Mitzvah to increase in giving Matanos Laevyonim than to increase in Mishloach Manos.
  • What must one give each pauper and how much must it be worth? The present should initially consist of something which can be readily used by the pauper, such as food or money. One is obligated to give one present to each of the two paupers. Some rule that as long each present contains the equivalent of a peruta worth he has fulfilled his obligation. However other Poskim rule that the present must contain a minimum worth of three Kibeitzim of food [165 grams]. Meaning, if one gives money, it must be enough money for each pauper to buy three Kibeitzim worth of food. If he gives food than each present given must consist of three Kibeitzim. Practically one is to be stringent like this latter opinion.
  • Who is a pauper? Practically, anyone who cannot afford today’s normal monthly expenses is considered poor and may be given Matanos Laevyonim. Likewise, anyone who has extra necessary expenses that he cannot afford, such as heavy medical bills, or the marrying off of children, is considered poor in this regard.
  • What is one to do if there are no paupers available? If there are not any [Jewish] paupers available in one’s vicinity to distribute to them Matanos Laevyonim, then one is to set aside the money and give it to a pauper when the opportunity presents itself.
  • Distributing charity on Purim to all those that request: One is not to be particular regarding distributing Purim money. Rather all those that spread open their hand to request donations are to be given.


[1] Ritva Megillah 7b; Makor Chaim 695/2; Pekudas Eliezer 694; M”B 694/2; Kaf Hachaim 694/7; Tzafnas Paneiach on Rambam Megillah 2/15; See Ashel Avraham Butchach 695; The Peri Megadim [brought in M”B 694/2] writes he has not found an amount written anywhere.

[2] How much is a Peruta? The Peruta was the smallest form of currency in the times of the Mishna and Talmud. It was a copper coin. Its silver worth is the weight of half a barley which is about .025 grams. Thus the worth of a Peruta is 0.025 of a gram of silver [1/40th of a gram]. Some opinions say one must also include the amount of tax levied on this amount of silver. In accordance to the current price of silver [$0.57 per gram-January 2015] the worth of a Peruta is 1.4 cents or 6 [5.7] Agurot. Each year one must verify anew as to the worth of silver. [Shiurei Torah 3/42 in name of Rambam; Rif; Ran in name of Geonim; Rabbeinu Chananel Shavuos 39b; Rosh Bechoros 8; Michaber Y.D. 331/14; E.H. 27; C.M. 88] See however Nitei Gavriel Purim 65/1 [based on Smeh C.M. 88/2; Shach Y.D. 294/16] that a Peruta worth must contain an amount that can purchase an item, and hence today in the USA a Peruta is no less than 5 cents and in Israel 10 Agurot.

[3] Zera Yaakov 11 brought in Machazikei Bracha 694/2; Shaareiy Teshuvah 694/1; Ben Ish Chaiy Titzaveh 15; Kaf Hachaim 694/7 and 11; Meiy Yehuda 86; Pekudas Eliezer ibid

Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule it must contain a Kebeitza worth. [Tzafnas Paneiach on Rambam Megillah 2/15] Other Poskim rule it is to be the size of one Grogeres [Pischeiy Teshuvah 694 based on Rama Y.D. 249/4] Other opinions rule it must be a present of importance. [Maharsha Megillah 7b]

[4] The price of a 700 gram loaf of bread in the USA is approximately a maximum of 2.50 cents, which would make 165 grams be worth 60 cents. In Israel the price of a 750 gram loaf of bread is 5 shekel and 10 Agurot, which would make 160 grams of bread be worth 1 shekel and 20 Agurot.

[5] Kaf Hachaim 694/7 concludes the custom is to be stringent in order to fulfill one’s obligation according to all

[6] M”A 694/1 from Shlah 260b; Mahril 56; Elya Raba 686/4; M”B 694/3; Aruch Hashulchan 694/2

[7] Rav Yaakov Blau in Tzedaka Umishpat 6 footnote 37 brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 694/7

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