The Essence of Mishloach Manot

Written by Whisk (Ami Magazine) on Wednesday, 22 February 2012. Posted in Food for Thought

This week, Ami’s Whisk magazine is super special! It’s a 64-page bonus edition that’s packed with over 50 recipes, packaging ideas, and mishloach manos inspiration. It’s really wow and beautiful. Here’s a glimpse at some of the featured mishloach manos and some words from Rabbi Moshe Taub on what mishloach manos are all about.

By Rabbi Moshe Taub
 
“Either friends like Iyov’s—or death” (Bava Basra 16b).
“If one has no friends, it is better he not be alive” (Rashi, ad loc. s.v. ooh chavrei)
 
Purim is a celebration of the living; we therefore celebrate this Yom Tov by enjoying the gifts of physical life (Levush; Rav Hirsch). Friendship and camaraderie, being so existential, are therefore at the heart of Purim in general and the mitzvah of mishloach manos in particular.
 
 
What follows are several of the fundamental halachos for this mitzvah.
 
  • Every man, woman and child is required to give at least two items of ready-to-eat food or drink, or both, to at least one individual. Some are of the opinion that married women and children living at home may fulfill this mitzvah through the husband/father (Aruch HaShulchan 674:2; children however should be educated in this mitzvah). Men and women should not exchange mishloach manos with each other (Rama)
  • It is best if the two items sent are not of similar stock (e.g. apples and applesauce;) unless they are different in taste (rib steak and pepperoni, see R. Z.P. Frank in Mikroei Kodesh #38), although it is best to avoid even this.

 

  • There is an American trend of having “themed” mishloach manos. While no mitzvah should ever become a burden, there may be good reason for this newer minhag: Some poskim rule that the gift must be worthy of the receiver (Biur Halacha 695 s.v. chayav). According to this, and because of the blessings we have today, small candies and fruit may not cut it (Aruch HaShulchan ad loc. #15). Giving a mishloach manos some uniqueness, however, may make it worthy of excitement and even for display at the seudah. Of course one fulfills the mitzvah even if it is simple, so long as there are sizable portions.
  • The mitzvah of mishloach manos is on Purim day, if one sends it on the night of Purim they have not fulfilled their obligation (Rama). Bdieved one can mail or ship mishloach manos before Purim and have it arrive at the appropriate time. 
 
  • If the receiver is not home when it is brought to their home, so long as he will find it before the end of the day then one fulfills their mitzvah; providing that they will know who it is from (Ksav Sofer).
  • Some hold that this mitzvah should be fulfilled through a shliach, a messenger (Binyan Tzion). It is recommended, should one be giving multiple mishloach manos, to give at least on through a messenger. A child could be used as shliach for this mitzvah.
  • Someone who is in the 12 months of mourning for his/her parents, or the 30 days for other relatives is still obligated in this mitzvah and should give to a few close friends. Regarding an avel receiving, the reader should consult a rav. One can however give to the avel’s family (e.g. wife or husband). One can give a rav although he is an avel (Divrei Malkiel).

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About the Author

Whisk (Ami Magazine)

Whisk, a kosher food publication, is published weekly by Ami Magazine. Inside you’ll find their popular recipe columns which influence today’s trends in kosher food, features and interviews with interesting food personalities, and innovative columns which inspire cooks and non-cooks alike. It’s available inside of Ami Magazine, wherever Jewish publications are sold.

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