PURIM Unmasked

Past Articles:

The mitzvah of Mishloach Manot is fulfilled by sending two types of ready-to-eat foods to at least one friend. This mitzvah should be performed on Purim day itself.

There is a custom to send Mishloach Manot through a third person messenger, since the
word mishloach is related to the word for messenger, shaliach.

The mitzvah of Matanot La'evyonim is fulfilled by giving money to at least two poor people on the day of Purim. The gift should at least equal the value of a fast-food meal.  This is not a "family" obligation, but rather each person should perform the mitzvah themselves.

The money needn't be given directly to a poor person, but can be given to a community representative - as long as the money is actually distributed to the poor on Purim day.

Matanot La'evyonim is a special mitzvah, not to be included in the amount of money a person sets aside for charity during the rest of the year.

Rambam writes that it is inappropriate to buy expensive Mishloach Manot, if this will come at
the expense of larger gifts to the poor.