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Women in Judaism

Monetary Commandments Related to Purim

Question: Regarding two laws for the holiday of Purim:

1. Can you give me a precise definition for Matanot La’Evyonim and Machatzit Hashekel?

2. How does a woman accurately observe these commandments?

Answer: Matanot Le’Evyonim- Giving the monetary equivalent of a meal to at least two poor people on Purim. If you do not know any poor people personally, you can give money to an organization that does. This must be done by every male (age 13+) or female (age 12+).

Machtzit Hashekel – This is a custom to commemorate when each male Jew over the age of 20 was required to give half a shekel to the Temple (Bait Hamikdash). Nowadays, it is customary to give 3 coins of half of the common denomination (in the US it would be half a dollar), to charity. In many synagogues, they take 3 half-dollars and leave it on the table. People come and give money in exchange for the half-dollars, which they then donate back. This custom is only for males over 20. (If someone under 20, or females, gave for this in the past, they should continue each year.) This is done before Purim.

Best wishes,

Azriel Schreiber

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