I live in an area where b"H it is difficult to find Jewish poor. Can matanos l'evyonim be given to non-Jews, or must at least 2 of the poor people be Jewish?

  • 5
    I suspect you are mistaken about there not being Jewish poor in your area.
    – Double AA
    Feb 22 '13 at 6:35
  • 1
    Unless there aren't many Jews at all.
    – Seth J
    Feb 22 '13 at 13:18
  • 1
    Or they're embarrassed by it. (He said it's hard to find them, not necessarily that they aren't there.) Feb 22 '13 at 15:11
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/36269
    – msh210
    Mar 13 '14 at 6:02

In a town where it is not the practice to donate to non-Jews, it is forbidden to give to a non-Jew, and whoever does so is stealing from Jewish beggars, and he certainly doesn't fulfill his obligation with this. However, in a town where it is the practice, he still gives money to non-Jews (because of darkei shalom, cf. Gittin 61a), although he can't fulfill his obligation with that giving. (Mishnah Brurah 694:10-11)

There are lots of tzedakah funds who collect for poor people that collect from donors outside the country. You might want to find one of those. Yad Eliezer is one I found in a quick web search.

  • Note that many rishonim understand the relevant Yerushalmi to mean that we are supposed to not care if the recipient is Jewish or not in all cases (though even they agree that is only for the added mitzva of giving lots of money on Purim, not for the basic obligation). Even the rishonim who write as you presented do so in complaints against their respective communities' practice. Clearly the old custom was to give to anyone including gentiles.
    – Double AA
    Feb 22 '13 at 6:38
  • Based on a simple reading of the Shulchan Aruch, one does fulfill his obligation if he gives to non-Jews. Would you care to explain why one doesn't?
    – Shmuel
    Mar 13 '14 at 2:05
  • @ShmuelL, SA is talking about maos Purim not the fulfillment of the mitzva of matanos laevyonim AFAICT; MB :10 pretty clearly says one doesn't fulfill the latter by giving to non-Jews.
    – msh210
    Mar 13 '14 at 6:04

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