When you think of fun gift baskets that are filled with candy, you wouldn’t associate that mitzvah with another mitzvah on Purim that involves giving to the poor, right? Well think again. The mitzvah I am talking about that involves gift baskets is called Mishloach Manot. This mitzvah basically tells you to prepare a gift basket with food and drinks, and then give it to family or a friend of yours. That sounds very cheerful and welcoming, unlike the second mitzvah of Purim , Matanot La Evyonim, which tells you to give a donation to two poor people. Matanot La Evyonim is a good deed, but it kind of brings you away from the cheerfulness of Purim and reminds you that there are people in the world that can’t afford to celebrate like you can, and maybe that’s what we need. Let me explain.
When you celebrate a holiday as joyous as Purim, you can get caught up in it all and forget about people that don’t have what you do. Matanot La Evyonim kind of makes Purim a more down to earth holiday and not some meaningless festival where you dress up in costume and gorge yourself with hamantaschen. Matanot La Evyonim and Mishloach Manot are both acts of giving, but in different ways. One is more cheerful and joyous while the other is a little more serious and thoughtful. Truthfully, that is what I think Purim is about. Purim is a very joyous holiday, but we need to remember that there are serious aspects to it also which is why I think we need Mishloach Manot and Matanot La Evyonim,