Mishloach Manot - Gifts to One Another

It is obligatory to send a gift which consists of at least two 'portions' to another person. Both men and women are included in this Mitzvah.

Only what is edible or drinkable without further cooking or preparation, is considered a 'portion.' One may therefore send cooked meats or fish, pastry goods, fruit, sweets, wine and other beverages. And it is the more praiseworthy to send portions to as many friends as possible. Even better, however, is to give more gifts to the poor than to friends.

One of the most popular food items that has been used for this Mitzvah is the Hamentash, a calorific (fattening) concoction consisting of dough shaped into the form of a triangle (with just two possibilities allowed - exactly sixty degrees in each angle or an isosceles right triangle - just kidding!), with filling of various kinds.

Even a poor person is required to fulfill the Mitzvah of 'Mishloach Manot.' If one is unable to do so directly, he may exchange his own food for that of his friend; both of whom would thus fulfill their obligations.

The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot may not be fulfilled with money, clothing and the like, but only with foods or beverages.

It is proper to send portions sufficient to convey regard for the recipient. One should not send an item so minute as to be worthless in the eyes of the poor.

If at all possible, these 'portions' should be sent by messengers, rather than to be delivered personally. And though it is said of all other mitzvot: 'It is more of a Mitzvah if done personally, than if done through a messenger,' this Mitzvah is different. Since the term, 'Mishloach Manot' (the sending of portions), is the term used in the 'Megillah' the proper procedure for fulfilling the Mitzvah, is to do so by messenger. Nevertheless, if one delivers his Mishloach Manot personally, he still fulfills his obligation.

The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot should be performed by day.

A mourner is free of the obligation, but some hold that it rests even upon him, except that one in mourning should not send gifts which would be a source of rejoicing.

The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot and the giving of gifts to the poor, during the days of Purim, are prescribed in order to recall the brotherly love which Mordechai and Esther awoke among all Jews. When there is inner unity among Jews, even the wrongdoers among them become righteous.


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