09 Feb HALACHICALLY SPEAKING: MISHLOACH MANOS
One is obligated to send mishloach manos on Purim to his friend etc. This mitzvah was introduced during the time of Mordechai and Esther and is considered a divrei kabbalah mitzvah and not a d’oraisa. There are two basic reasons for this mitzvah; The Terumas Hadeshen says the reason is in order that everyone should have food for the seuda. The opinion of the Manos Ha’Levi is in order to promote friendship on Purim one should give gifts to one another. The obligation is to send two items (which items will be discussed) to one person. However, the poskim encourage that the more mishloach manos one sends the more fortunate he is. When one sends mishloach manos he should fulfill the mitzvah and satisfy both reasons. For example, one who sends clothing has not satisfied both reasons, since he cannot use it for the meal (refer below). The poskim offer different reasons as to why there is no beracha recited on the mitzvah of mishloach manos (see footnote).
Eating Before Sending
There are some poskim that say one should not eat (a substantial amount of food, tasting is permitted) before performing the mitzvah of mishloach manos. However, most poskim say that one is permitted to eat before the mitzvah is performed. The reason for this leniency is because one will not forget to send the mishloach manos, since most of the day people are busy sending him mishloach manos, therefore, he will remember to give as well.
Mishloach Manos First
Or Matanos L’evyonim?
Many say that one should give matanos l’evyonim before giving mishloach manos. Others maintain that mishloach manos should be given before matanos l’evyonim since mishloach manos is stated first in the posuk.
Some poskim maintain that women are not obligated in this mitzvah, however, most poskim say that women are obligated to send mishloach manos. Women should be careful and only send to women and not to men. Some poskim maintain that a woman who is sending mishloach manos may send clothing. Many women are busy preparing the mishloach manos, and the men do not get involved. However, the men should have a role in the mishloach manos as well. Some say it is sufficient for a husband and wife to send mishloach manos together, thereby the mishloach manos is coming from both of them. A woman who is working for a frum-male boss should say that her mishloach manos is from my husband.
Young Children Participating In the Mitzvah
It is good chinuch for one to train his young children in the mitzvah of mishloach manos. Some say this can be accomplished by appointing your child as your mishloach manos deliverer. Others say one should give mishloach manos or money to the child to buy mishloach manos so that they can fulfill this mitzvah. Some poskim hold that children over 13 even those who are being supported by their parents are obligated, while other poskim maintain that they are exempt, and are included with their parents.
The Correct Time
The correct time to send mishloach manos is on the day of Purim, and not the night of the Megilla reading. If one sent his mishloach manos at night he was not yotzei his obligation and he must fulfill his obligation of mishloach manos by day. (However, one must keep in mind this is only the first one that one is sending. The mishloach manos that he will be sending to other people may be given at night).
What to Send?
Some say that one may send the same type of food as long as it is two separate pieces, for example, one may send two of the same type of fruits. Most poskim maintain that it has to be two separate tasting foods. For example, one may send a piece of meat and a cracker, etc. One is not yotzei two minim with sending an ice cream sandwich. The reason is because sending one min with two berachos is considered one min. Two different berachos are not required to be considered two different manos according to any opinion. One does not have to only send food items; a drink is considered a food item as well, therefore, one may send one drink item and one food item. Many poskim maintain that one may not send raw food as mishloach manos. Others say that raw food is permitted since one can cook the food if he wishes. One may send a frozen food since it is possible that one may defrost it. One may send packaged food even though it is not fit to eat “as is,” since he has to open the package prior to eating the food. Sending bread with a tavshil is considered two minim. Some send candies or chocolate as mishloach manos. One should send food that can be eaten by the seuda to at least one person.
One who sends non-food items as mishloach manos was not yotzei his obligation of mishloach manos. A person may not send a sefer as mishloach manos. Money may not be sent either. Some poskim say that one may send non-food items, however, this does not seem to be the custom.
There is a certain amount of uncertainty as to exactly what the shiur of mishloach manos is. Some say that the food sent should consist of 6-7 oz. of food, while others maintain one should send the amount of food he would serve his own guest. The poskim stress that an important size (daver chashuv) should be given. One may send a candy tray since it is different minim. The minhag seems to be to send cake and chocolate as mishloach manos.
Sending a Item without a Good Hechsher
One who sends food to someone who does not trust that specific hechsher was still yotzei his mitzvah of mishloach manos. The same holds true for someone who sends a certain item to his friend who is on a diet, and does not eat that specific food.
Giving It on One Plate At One Time
The custom is that the two manos may be given in one utensil and it is still considered giving two manos. Initially, one should give both manos at the same time; others maintain that if one gave them one after the other it is fine.
Do You Need a Messenger?
Some poskim maintain that one should only send the mishloach manos with a shliach- messenger. Most poskim maintain that one does not have to send it with a shliach, and one may deliver it by himself. Nonetheless, one should send at least one set of mishloach manos with a messenger to go in accordance with all opinions. One may send the mishloach manos through a young child or a goy. Some say the reason why the mishloach manos recipient gives money to the young child when he delivers the mishloach manos is because this way the sender is assured that the child accomplished his shlichos.
Who to Send It To?
One should send the mishloach manos to his friends since the posuk says “r’eyhu.” Some poskim maintain that one should not send the mishloach manos to someone that he does not get along with since he is not his r’eyhu. Others maintain sending mishloach manos to someone you do not get along with is encouraged, since it will hopefully bring r’eyhus. One’s Rebbe is considered a friend, and therefore, one may send mishloach manos to his Rebbe. A person may send mishloach manos to his in-laws. There is a discussion in the poskim whether if one sends mishloach manos to his parents is he yotzei the mitzvah . It would seem that sending mishloach manos to them is a fulfillment of the mitzvah. Many poskim maintain that one is not yotzei mishloach manos when sending to a child under bar-mitzvah. A person’s wife is considered his friend and therefore one may send mishloach manos to her.
A mourner has an obligation to send mishloach manos on Purim like everyone else. A mourner who is within the year for his or her parents or a mourner who is within the shloshim of other relatives may not receive mishloach manos. One may send mishloach manos to a mourner’s wife. A Rav who is a mourner may still accept money on Purim which is usually given to him as an expression of hakaras hatov. Some poskim maintain that the Rav should not be given food. If one’s parent is a mourner, one may send them mishloach manos anyway.
Being Yotzei Through A Seuda Etc.
One that hosts the seduas Purim for his family/friends may be yotzei the mitzvah of mishloach manos through this meal. When one accepts mishloach manos it becomes his own personal property, and he can whatever he likes with it. For example; he may send what he received to someone else, and it is still considered as if he bought the mishloach manos. Once the sender sent mishloach manos, it does not make a difference if the recipient used it at his meal, the sender was still yotzei his obligation.
Arranging Mishloach Manos through a Store or Company
If one is unable to prepare his own mishlaoch manos and he arranges for an organization to prepare and send it for him, he was yotzei his mitzvah.