The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
MISHLOACH MANOS: THE BASIC MITZVAH
Mordechai and Esther, with the approval of the Rabbis of the
time, introduced a mitzvas asei (1) which obligates every person
to send two different kinds of foods to one friend on Purim. Two
basic reasons are given for this mitzvah:
There are impoverished people who are too embarrassed to collect tzedakah for themselves and will therefore not have food for the Seudas Purim. By establishing a system whereby everyone receives packages of food on Purim, the rabbis ensured that even the most reticent of individuals will have food for the Purim seudah (2).
Sending food to a friend or an acquaintance is an expression of goodwill and fraternity. On Purim we wish to instill and perpetuate these feelings (3).
The goals of both of these reasons must be met in order to fulfill the mitzvah properly. For instance: One who sends clothing for mishloach manos does not fulfill the mitzvah (4) since he did nothing for his friend's Purim meal. Similarly, one who sends mishloach manos anonymously does not fulfill the mitzvah (5) since no friendship or goodwill is generated between him and the recipient.
Nowadays, we are witness to a marked proliferation of mishloach
manos. Although mishloach manos is a relatively easy mitzvah to
fulfill, if one is unaware of the halachos, he could send dozens
of mishloach manos and still not properly fulfill the mitzvah.
In addition, a clear distinction must be drawn between the
minimum requirements for fulfilling the mitzvah, and the hiddur
mitzvah, the more exacting form of fulfilling the mitzvah. There
are also some little known halachos which are important for
those who wish to fulfill the mitzvah according to the views of
all the poskim. We have thus split the halachos into two parts--the first part discusses the basic rules, and the second part discusses chumros and hiddurim for those who wish to embellish
upon this once-a-year mitzvah.
MISHLOACH MANOS: THE BASIC RULES
Who should send:
Men and women are personally obligated in this mitzvah (6).
Married women are obligated in their own right and are not
exempted by their husband's mishloach manos (7). 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 (8).
Some poskim hold that children over 13--even those who are
being supported by their parents--are obligated (9), while
others exempt them since they do not own anything in their own
Parents should be mechanech their children in the mitzvah of
mishloach manos as they do with every mitzvah (11).
What to send:
Any combination of two kinds of food (12), or one food and one
drink (13), or two kinds of drink (14), is sufficient. Two pieces
of the same food are considered as one food (15). Some poskim (16)
specify that the foods be ready to eat and require no further
cooking, while other poskim (17) allow even uncooked foods to be
To whom to send:
To any Jewish (18) adult (19), wealthy or poor, with whom you are acquainted or to whom you are related. Although men should send to men only and women to women only (20), families may send to
each other (21).
Mishloach manos should not be sent to a mourner (22) during the year of mourning for his parents, or during the thirty days of mourning for other relatives (23). A mourner who receives
mishloach manos need not return them, and the sender fulfills his mitzvah by sending those mishloach manos (24). It is permitted for a woman to send to the wife of a mourner (25).
A mourner must send Mishloach manos--even if he is in the
middle of shivah. A mourner should refrain from sending "items
of simchah" (items that elicit laughter and merriment) (26).
When to send:
Mishloach Manos should be sent and received on Purim day (27).
If it is received at night or on the days before or after Purim,
the sender does not fulfill the mitzvah (28). If it is sent
before Purim but is received on Purim, some poskim hold that the
mitzvah is fulfilled (29) while others hold that it is not (30).
How to send:
The sender himself may deliver the mishloach manos directly to
the recipient (31). Some poskim (32) hold that it is preferable to
send it via a messenger. The messenger may be a minor or a
non-Jew (33). When sending with a messenger, it is proper to
verify that the mishloach manos was indeed delivered (34),
especially if the messenger is a minor or a non-Jew (35).
MISHLOACH MANOS: CHUMROS AND HIDURIM
The following is a list of hiddurim that, if possible, one
should follow for at least one set of mishloach manos so that he
fulfills the mitzvah in accordance to all views.
What to send:
One should send foods which will be eaten at the Seudas
A wealthy person who sends inexpensive items of food does not
fulfill the mitzvah. In order for his mishloach manos to be
considered as an expression of friendship, its cost must be
relative to the sender's wealth (38).
One who sends inexpensive food items to a wealthy person does
not fulfill the mitzvah, since such items are meaningless and
unappreciated by him (39).
The minimum amount of mishloach manos is a meal's worth, about
6-7 fl. oz. of food (40). Other poskim require that one send no
less of a meal [in volume] than one would normally serve a
It is better to send two kinds of food than one food and one
drink (42) or two kinds of drink (43).
Two different kinds of fruit are considered as one food (44).
Two different kinds of wine, e.g., red wine and white wine, are
considered as one kind of drink (45).
It is better not to send an item which the sender himself would
not eat because of kashruth considerations (46).
To whom to send:
One who sends mishloach manos as acknowledgment of a favor rendered to the sender does not fulfill the mitzvah (47).
One who sends mishloach manos to his enemy (48) or to a complete stranger (49) does not fulfill the mitzvah.
It is questionable if mishloach manos can be sent to one who is too drunk to be aware of having received them (50).
When to send:
The mishloach manos should be sent as early as possible, but not
before the reading of the megillah on Purim morning (51).
One who is traveling and will not be home must still send
mishloach manos and cannot rely on a messenger or his family in
another city to fulfill his obligation (52). If, however, he
specifically appoints another person to send it for him, that is
How to send:
The two kinds of food or drink should not be placed in one
utensil (plate, bowl or bag), since the utensil combines them
into one kind (54).
1 The poskim (see Achiezer 3:73) refer to this mitzvah as a
mitzvah midivrei kabbalah, a rabbinical mitzvah which is
incorporated into the written text (Esther 9:22). Accordingly,
we do not say safek derbanan l'kulah in regard to the mitzvos of
Purim (Tzafnas Pa'aneich to Rambam Megillah 1:1).
2 Terumas Hadeshen 111.
3 R' Shlomo Alkavatz in Manos Halevi quoted in Shu"t Chasam
Sofer OC 196.
8 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (written responum quoted in Halichos Bas
Yisroel pg. 303 and oral ruling quoted in Halichos Baisa pg.
354). Accordingly, the amount sent should be double the minimun
amout of mishloach manos.
10 Shu"t Kinyan Torah 1:132. It follows that if the children
have their own possessions, then they are obligated like any
11 Pri Megadim 695:14; Aishel Avrohom 695; Kaf Hachayim 695:57.
This means that parents should give their children food or money
so that they can fulfill the mitzvah--Chanoch L'naar pg. 66.
See, however, Kinyan Torah 1:132 who holds that it is sufficient
chinuch to allow the children to deliver the mishloach manos.
12 OC 695:4.
13 Mishnah Berurah 695:20.
14 Aruch Hashulchan 695:14.
15 Aruch Hashulchan 695:14. See Tzitz Eliezer 14:65; 15:31.
17 Pri Chodosh OC 695; Haamek Shailah 67:9; Shevet Sofer OC 23;
Yechave Daas 6:45. Mishnah Berurah 695:20 quotes both views
without rendering a decision
18 Shu"t Bais Yitzchok (YD 2:142).
19 Aruch Hashulchan 695:18 rules that one fulfills the mitzvah
by sending to a minor, but many poskim (Yaavetz 1:121, Yad Sofer
24; Kaf Hachayim 694:12; Birur Halachah pg. 405) rule that one
does not fulfill the mitzvah in that manner.
42 Nitei Gavriel pg. 106 quoting Afrksata D'anya 25 and Bais Av
43 Bais Yitzchok Megillah 7b.
44 Rosh Yosef Megillah 7a.
45 Orchos Chaim 69 quoting Tikkun Moshe.
46 See Chochmas Shlomo 695:4 and Mahram Shik OC 341.
47 Tzfnas Pa'aneich (Megillah pg. 38b).
48 Orchos Chaim 695:4 quoted in Nitei Gavriel pg. 109.
49 Harav M. Feinstein (oral ruling quoted in Oholei Yeshurun pg.
50 See Nitei Gavriel pg. 114.
51 Based on Mishnah Berurah 692:1 who says that the Shehechiyanu
recited at the daytime reading of the megillah applies to
mishloach manos as well. Additionally, there is a view that
holds that one who sends mishloach manos before the megillah doe
not fulfill his obligation altogether (Nitei Gavriel pg. 125
quoting Tikkun Moshe pg. 92).
52 Aruch Hashulchan 696:3; Mikroei Kodesh 39.
53 Aruch Hashulchan 695:16.
54 Ben Ish Chai Tetzaveh 16 and in Torah L'shmah 189.