For your consideration: Is there a difference between a gift and ordinary tzedakah?
If so - what, beyond simple halakhic considerations, constitutes a suitable gift for the needy? Should it be - must it be - beyond subsidizing subsistence to lifting up the oppressed out of a state of longing - and to help them do so for others.
What were these gifts? According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 91a) "he gave them the name of tumah." Which is sometimes interpreted to mean "impure powers" - i.e. black magic. That's clearly unacceptable. The Zohar (Vol. 1 pp. 99b -100b) intriguingly suggests - riffing on the Talmud - he gave them the Wisdom of the East (so the source of this Wisdom is Avraham). The common theme here is he gave them means - RAMBAM's highest level of giving.
Gifts to the poor – מַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים : Every person is obligated on Purim to give at least two gifts to two poor people, one gift to each. One fulfills his obligation with a gift worth a peruta. One must give the gifts with his own money, although he may add from the money that he tithes for charity (Magen Avraham, citing the Maharil). It is appropriate to give the money on the day of Purim, enabling the poor person to use it on Purim (my emphasis - djg). The Rambam writes that it is preferable to give additional gifts to the poor than to send additional portions (Shulĥan Arukh, Oraĥ Ĥayyim 694:1).
(From Koren Talmud - Megillah daf 7b)
מגילה ז׳ ב
רַב יוֹסֵף אָמַר: מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעֵינֵיהֶן שֶׁל עֲנִיִּים
נְשׂוּאוֹת בְּמִקְרָא מְגִילָּה. תַּנְיָא נַמִי הָכִי:
אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאָמְרוּ כְּפָרִים מַקְדִּימִין לְיוֹם
הַכְּנִיסָה – גּוֹבִין בּוֹ בַּיּוֹם, וּמְחַלְּקִין בּוֹ
Talmud Bavli Megillah daf 7b:
Rav Yosef said that there is another reason the Megilla is not read on Shabbat: Because the eyes of the poor are raised to the reading of the Megilla.* The poor await the day on which the Megilla is read, because on that day gifts are distributed to the poor. If the Megilla is read on Shabbat, it will not be possible to distribute gifts to the poor, who will be deeply disappointed.h The Gemara notes that this is also taught in a baraita: Even though the Sages said that the villages advance their reading of the Megilla to the day of assembly, they also collect the gifts for the poor on that day, and they distribute them to the poor on that day.
Gifts for the poor – מַתָּנוֹת לָאֶבְיוֹנִים : On the same day that the Megilla is read, even when the reading is advanced to a different day, gifts for the poor are collected and distributed (Shulĥan Arukh, Oraĥ Ĥayyim 688:6).
IS IT BETTER TO GIVE A LOT TO A FEW POOR, OR A LITTLE TO EACH?
The Bach (Joel ben Samuel Sirkis (יואל סירקיש) also known as the Bach (ב"ח) - an abbreviation of his magnum opus, Bayit Chadash) rules that someone with 100 gold coins to distribute for matanos la’evyonim should distribute one coin to each of 100 poor people rather than give it all to one individual because this makes more people happy (Bach 695 s.v. v’tzarich lishloach). According to Rav Elyashiv, it is better to give two large gifts that will make two aniyim happy than to give many small gifts that are insufficient to make the recipients happy (quoted in ShevusYitzchok on Purim, pg. 98).
These two Piskei halacha are not in conflict -- quite the contrary, they complement one another. The mitzvah of matanos la’evyonim is to make as many poor people happy as possible. Receiving a very small gift does not place a smile on a poor man’s face, although it fulfills the minimal requirements of the mitzvah as noted above. However, both the Bach’s gold coin and Rav Elyashiv’s large gift accomplish that the poor person becomes happy. Therefore, giving each person enough of a gift to bring a smile to his face is a bigger mitzvah than giving a very large gift to one person and being unable to bring a smile to the others. Thus, the optimal way to perform the mitzvah is to make as many people happy as possible.
--Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff
Questions to consider:
What is the minimum gift to fulfill the mitzvah of Matanot Laevyonim?
Can we derive or sense an objective to this mitzvah?
If so, is the objective met by the halachic minimum?