Mishloach Manos (Assorted Halachos)

  1. There is a mitzvah to give Mishloach Manos, two foods to one person, on Purim day. (S.A. 695:4)
  2. There are two reasons found in the poskim for this Mitzvah. A) To ensure that everyone, especially the poor, will have sufficient food for the Purim meal. (Terumas Hadeshen 111) B) To increase love and friendship between Jews, thereby dismissing Haman’s accusations that there is strife and dissention among Jews. This is an ideal opportunity to repair broken relationships by sending packages to people with whom one has ill feelings. (Manos Halevi cited by Chasam Sofer O.C. 196)
  3. The Ksav Sofer (141) explains that there is a difference of halacha between these two reasons, and that is if one can fulfill the mitvah by giving Mishloach Manos anonymously. According to the first reason one would still fulfill the mitzvah since in this case the receiver will have food for the Purim meal. However, according to the second reason one who sends mishloach manos anonymously does not fulfill the mitzvah since no friendship or goodwill is generated between him and the recipient. It is  preferred to fulfill the mitzvah according to both reasons.
  4. Mishloach Manos should be given during the day of purim and not at night. (M.B. 695:22)
  5. The Mishloach Manos are given on Purim day. If one sends them in the mail before Purim and it arrives on Purim day it would seem that one fulfills his obligation since the package was received on Purim. This is indeed the view of many poskim (see Beer Heitiv 695:7, Shraga Hameir 4:31, Az Nidberu 6:80). However the Aruch Hashulchan (695:17) maintains one does not fulfill his obligation if it was shipped before Purim, even if it arrives on Purim day. All agree that if the Mishloach Manos will arrive before or after Purim day that one has not fulfilled his obligation.
  6. One doesn’t fulfill the obligation with anything that’s non-food, such as clothing or dishes. (Trumas Hadeshen 111, M.B. 695:20, Yalkut Yosef 5:321,323. See also Tzitz Eliezer 9:33)
  7. In order to fulfill the mitzvah of Mishloach Manos one needs to send to foods to one person. However it is not necessary for the items to require two different blessings. For example, one may send two different cakes or two fruits.
  8. Indeed, according to many poskim one can fulfill the mitzvah by sending two cuts of meat as long as they taste different (beef hotdog and hamburger, white and dark meat of the chicken). (See Mikraei Kodesh 38, Halichos Shlomo page 336, Tzitz Eliezer 14:65, 15:31, Yalkut Yosef Kitzur S.A. page 773, Avnei Yashfei 4:83 and Yismach Yisrael page 95) It is therefore clear that two different brachos are not required.
  9. [It is important to note that the aforementioned poskim were only lenient if the two foods have a different taste. However, one cannot fulfill the mitzvah by sending two items of the same food, two hotdogs etc.]
  10. The poskim debate whether one can fulfill the mitzvah by sending spices which are not eaten on their own, such as sugar, pepper, etc. (Yismach Yisrael page 99). For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.
  11. The poskim discuss whether one can fulfill his obligation by sending food to someone who for medical reasons cannot eat the food, such as sugary foods to a diabetic. According to Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l one can fulfill his mitzvah with these foods. It seems, however, that Harav Yehoshua Neubert zt”l and ybc”l Harav Yitzchak Zilberstein shlit”a maintain that one does not fulfill his obligation since this food does not bring the diabetic simcha as he cannot eat it. (See Halichos Shlomo 19:11 and Nishmas Abraham page 324) Similarly, Harav Efraim Greenblatt zt”l (Shu”t Rivevos Efraim 6:387) writes that one cannot fulfill his obligation by sending meat to a vegetarian, since it will not bring him joy.
  12. A drink is considered a food item as well, therefore, one may send one drink item and one food item for the mishloach manos. One can even send two different drinks. However, it appears that the custom is to send at least one food item and not two drinks. (M.B. 695:20 and Yismach Yisroel page 95. See Yalkut Yosef Kitzur S.A. page 773 who writes that it is preferred to send two foods to fulfill the mitzvah and not to fulfill the mitzvah through drinks. However, the common custom is to be lenient and to fufill the mitzvah with at least one drink, such as a bottle of wine and cake.)
  13. Men and women are personally obligated in this mitzvah (Rama 695:4). Married women are obligated in their own right and are not exempted by their husband’s mishloach manos (M.B. 25). It is sufficient, however, for husband and wife to send mishloach manos together, as if it is coming from both of them – and the recipient recognizing that it is coming from both. Accordingly, the amount sent should be double the minimum amount of mishloach manos (Yismach Yisroel page 87).
  14. Women should send the Mishloach Manos to other women and men to men. Families may send to other families. (Netai Gavriel 60:11)
  15. The Mishnah Berurah cites the view of the Aruch Lner who suggests that one must send the Mishloach Manos through a shliach, messenger in order to fulfill the mitzvah. Harav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l (Tzitz Eliezer 9:33) writes that most commentaries disagree with this assumption and they maintain that one need not send it through a shliach, rather, one may deliver it by himself. In addition, he explains that the Aruch Lner himself concludes that it is unnecessary to send it through a shliach. Harav Yisroel Belsky zt”l (Piskei Harav Belsky page 122) is cited as ruling that although the majority of poskim maintain that one may deliver Mishloach Manos himself, nonetheless, one should send at least one set of Mishloach Manos with a messenger to accommodate all opinions.
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