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Mishloach Manot: Who, What, Where and When?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Purim » The Laws | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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 Everyone is required to send a food package to at least one Jewish acquaintance on Purim. This package is called Mishloach Manot -- distribution of [food] portions. The package(s) must consist of at lease two different ready-to-eat food items and/or beverages1.


Here are some Halachot pertaining to Mishloach Manot:


1) This Mitzvah must be performed during the daylight hours of Purim day;2 preferably after hearing the daytime Megillah reading.34 


2) If you have little children, make sure they too send Mishloach Manot to their friends.5 It's tons of fun, and educational to boot!


3) It is customary to send the Mishloach Manot via a third party. Little children make great, enthusiastic messengers! Also, have some treats handy to give out to those children who will be delivering Mishloach Manot to your home, and remind them to recite the proper brachah.


4) For reasons of modesty, men should send Mishloach Manot to male-friends, while women should give to female-friends.6 Alternatively, one family can send Mishloach Manot to another family.


5) It isn't proper to send Mishloach Manot to a mourner. This includes anyone who has, G-d forbid, lost a father or mother within the last twelve months, or someone whose spouse, brother, sister, son or daughter has passed on within the last thirty days.7


6) Though we are required to give Mishloach Manot to only one person, someone who gives to more people is called “praiseworthy,” and this is a traditional opportunity for expressing our gratitude and friendship towards others. Nevertheless, it is better to spend money on giving Purim charity than on elaborate Mishloach Manot.8


7) The Mishloach Manot must consist of Kosher food. Now, duh...


See also Why do we give away food on Purim?

Footnotes

  • 1. Shluchan Aruch, Orech Chayim 695:4; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:1-2.
  • 2. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:5
  • 3. One should have in mind Mishloach Manot and Charity to the poor, when hearing the Shehechiyanu blessing for the Megillah reading. (See Siddur Yavetz on Purim).
  • 4. Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chayim 594:100
  • 5. Pri Megadim Orach Chayim 695:14. See also Shevach HaMoadim laws of Purim 11:6.
  • 6. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:4
  • 7. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:7. A mourner however must give Mishloach Manot. S/he should give someone something basic (just to fulfill the Mitzvah) but not a lavish basket etc.
  • 8. Kitzur 142:1

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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Halachot
Laws governing the Jewish way of life.
Purim
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
Megillah
A scroll. Usually a reference to the Book of Esther, one of the books of the "Written Torah", which is read--from a scroll--on the holiday of Purim.
Mishloach Manot
Gifts of food which every Jew is required to give to an acquaintance on the holiday of Purim.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.