The Matzav Rant: Purim “Mishloach Manos Cards” – What Shaychus?


mishloach-manos3By Shmuel Miskin,

The topic of my rant today might not sit well with some people, but it is an issue that has always perplexed me. It is apropos to discuss the matter at this time, with Purim starting this Motzoei Shabbos.

The issue? So-called “mishloach manos cards.”

First let’s review the basics:

On the day of Purim, there are a number of chiyuvim:

1. Reading the megillah.

2. Giving mishloach manos.

3. Giving matanos la’evyonim.

4. Eating a seudah.

The chiyuv for mishloach manos is to send to at least one person two foods that are ready to eat (see Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, siman 142). It recently became popular to send out cards “in lieu of mishloach manos.” The money goes to all types of choshuveh tzedakah organizations. Frankly, I do not see how this fulfills the mitzvah of mishloach manos.

Now, of course, all of you are going to frantically write below that those who utilize these cards send mishloach manos to at least one person to fulfill the basic mitzvah. That is fine. What bothers me is this notion that the card is in “lieu” of mishloach manos. After all, proponents of the cards argue, who needs so many mishloach manos? Why do we need so much wasted food? Why should our kitchen counters be filled with nosh?

That argument doesn’t sit well with me. If Chazal instructed us to give mishloach manos, then let’s give it. And if we have 50 people to give to, then so be it. Let us spread rei’us and simcha with mishloach manos, as Chazal prescribed. To suddenly reinvent the wheel and decide that “cards” are going to take the place of mishloach manos is simply hijacking a primary part of the Purim day.

[This is in addition to the fact that part of the Purim day spirit is receiving and giving dozens of mishloach manos to various people. I remember, as a child, that I relished accepting and opening each mishloach manos we would get. I loved going around and giving out our mishloach manos and usually receiving a dollar for serving as a shliach. What priceless memories! As a child, few activities were as exciting as mishloach manos. As many as we gave and got, I loved each and every second of the experience.]

Chas veshalom, I don’t mean to knock any tzedakah. I have no problem if people send cards to their friends stating that they gave a donation to a certain organization in honor of them. But please, don’t do it instead of mishloach manos, even if you have already given three dozen of them. Don’t mix up matanos la’evyonim and mishloach manos. No, it is not because I need your Fruit By The Fruit, your waferrolls (box number 37 for our house…), or your little bottle of grape juice. It is just that when people decide to redefine a mitzvah and somehow think that giving out cards has anything to do with mishloach manos, it doesn’t sit right with me. Give tzedakah to your heart’s content, but not at the expense of mishloach manos. Soon enough, we might be seeing these cards year round:

“Dear Shmuel, We just wanted to let you know that in lieu of making a seudah at our children’s upcoming wedding, we’ve given a donation to a certain tzedakah in your honor. Here is a card attesting to the donation. We’ll instead be serving potato kugel at the event. We hope it will suffice.”

I just don’t get why the card idea has to come at the expense of mishloach manos. What do cards have to do with the price of tea in China?

{Shmuel Newscenter}


  1. See Rambam Perek 2 Hilchos Megila Halacha 17, brought by the Mishne Brura in sec 794, subparagraph 3, who disagree with you

  2. Well done. We are grandparents and we still enjoy opening the Mishloach Manos. I agree with with your essay wholeheartedly. Have Frailachen Purim.

  3. You raise a valid point, and you question concludes with:
    “I just don’t get why the card idea has to come at the expense of mishloach manos. What do cards have to do with the price of tea in China?”

    I think the answer is fairly simple. It is well known that the price of tea in China has been increasing dramatically in recent years due to the new Chines tax on tea leave exports. Due to that, the factory workers who work on assembly line making candy/nosh and like to take tea breaks have been spending a large portion of their salaries paying for their afternoon tea breaks.

    In the famous laborer strike of 2013, thousands of workers demanded higher raises to enable them to afford the tea that they like to drink.
    This caused food prices to spike making Mishloach Manos purchases less affordable.

    I think this explains pretty clearly how the price of tea in China caused people to feel it is cheaper to give cards than actual Mishloach Manos.


  4. Didn’t r’ Irving Bunim tell rav ahron ztl that he would give the cost of his son’s wedding to bmg and the wedding would be held at the yeshiva? I am not sure that exciting a young child with nosh deliveries is the type of Reyus Chazal had in mind

  5. I agree it takes out the true meaning of why we give mishloach manos to begin with and they are not yotzei the mitzvah with a card