One of the oldest and most noble philanthropies in Jewish tradition is the enactment of giving aid or charity to people in need by more privileged members of a community.
“Gifts for the Poor” is linked to the act of providing sustenance to those less able or fortunate during the day of Purim. In English known as “Gifts for the Poor”, in native Hebrew Matanot L’evyonim, the deed is seen as a moral obligation independent of the overall act of giving or tzedakah, the Hebrew term given to the act of charity and sharing wealth to the impoverished all year round. Gifts of either money or food, often even both, are shared so that every member of the community may enjoy the festive celebrations on the holy day of Purim. The act of Matanot L’evyonim is required to be enough to provide at least one meal for two individuals, who do not have food or the means to purchase food, during the festivities. Every member of a community is expected to perform this moral duty even those receiving their own charity. In this way the whole community can thrive and be well on the day of Purim.
Future Matanot L’evyonim are kept in a small container dedicated to making sure the gift is kept safe and aside from personal use. A container, or Pushke, is used to store anything that could be given to less fortunate members of a community. While a Pushke is usually kept for regular tzedakah if an opportunity to give shared wealth or food to people in need does not arise during Purim the act of Matanot L’evyonim may be performed at a later point in time when the opportunity does present itself.
This specific act of charity ensures that the whole community is able to celebrate the Purim feast with their own meal during this festive day. The act of giving might give the less fortunate of a community the opportunity to provide for themselves.