The Matzav Shmooooze: Mishloach Manos Gone Mad


mishloach-manos3Dear Editor,

I am writing in regard to the ‘mishloach manos syndrome,’ the extravagance and pressure that has gotten out of hand. Priorities are misplaced, while spouses and children suffer due to Mommy’s sleepless nights and egoistic drive to evoke the coveted ‘Wow!’ reaction from relatives and friends.

It is a sad scenario of a mitzvah taken out of proportion and to a wrong extreme. Wrong motive, wrong action, wrong outcome.

Once we’re at it, let me mention that people should realize that the Kiddush at their next son’s bar mitzvah doesn’t have to cost $10,000 so that people talk about it for months after. My mishloach manos doesn’t have to dazzle the 250 people on our “list.”

To be honest with you, I’ve never really been a big fan of mishloach manos themes. I’m from those who always said that our theme is “mishloach manos.”

What about Purim costumes? Why should we be embarrassed to have less money to spend on costumes, especially those of us whose husbands are learning or earning a typical rebbi‘s salary? Do we need the costumes to go along with the theme of the mishloach manos?

How about the person whose children dressed up as the Three Blind Mice? They were going to give out Mickey Mouse lollypops, cheese, and runny chocolate chip cookies. The last idea was going to be a little more complicated and slightly corny: “See how they run.”

Have we lost our minds?

And what if, chas veshalom, your youngest daughter doesn’t want to dress up as a blind mouse, but as Queen Esther?

Hashem help us.

Confused in Flatbush


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. If you lived according to the halacha you wouldnt be in this jam. Just send the halachic requirement of sending to two people. simple and easy.

  2. I totally agree. This whole Mishoach Manos thing has gone out of hand. Why can we just give 2 or three friends a small Mishloach Manos and thats it. Lets all bunch together and maybe we can start a new “trend”.

  3. The “extravagance and pressure” associated with the purchase of Esrogim is much worse. If you can tolerate that because it “feels” like a Mitzva, unlike Mishloach Manos which “feels” like frivolity, you have a problem!!!

  4. Great post- In light of the pressing times- and in order not to try to compete with others- our family is greatly downsizing our Mishloach Manos- 3 items in a small package- Yotzei lechol hadaos!

    A Freilichen Purim!!

  5. “The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on.”

    I’m mulling over the idea that the writer does not appreciate the hard work that goes into making Purim unique. True it does not need to be extravagant, but my wife and I set aside funds to ensure the kids and all our friends will see something different. This year the theme is Food Groups and each child will be representing the food they love most (I could not manage to make a pizza costume for the youngest: I’m still scrubbing the floors now!)

    It should not be an imperative to “outdo” everyone else. Just do your contribution and all those you care for will love it too.

  6. What about all the people who give “cards” from organizations, saying “in lieu of sholoch manos, a donation has been made to the ____organization”. It’s one thing if the person sending me the letter is giving me the rights for any s’char for the donation but that is obviously not the case. What kind of present is this? It just makes me feel worse that not only did I not get sholoch manos from you, it is being shoved in my face that you donated to an organization that I could care less about. We should stop this travesty as well.

  7. Yiddishkite is becoming very commercialized.
    Look at the prices of prefab succos, When I was a kid- we made a sukkah out of thrown out doors etc
    Everything is ostentatious menorahs, sedar plates, etc etc. The only place were there is no beautifying is by davening- there it’s let anyone get up to the amud- correct nusach not correct nusach, nice voice, not nice voice- the only real quality is SPEED. So lavish shalach mania and expensive costumes is just par for the course.

  8. BH here in Monsey mishloach Manos and Costumes are truditional and are not out of hand. Here In Mosey we are not confused.

  9. Dear Confused: How about moving out of Flatbush? There’s a big world out there – Jewish communities all over the US. Nice heimish communities with schools, shuls, libraries, the whole megillah. And where if you say your mishloach manos theme is just “mishloach manos,” no-one will look down their nose at you. Or gossip about you if your kid’s bar mitzvah doesn’t cost the same as a full-dress chasaneh.

    You’re an out-of-towner in the bud. Break free from Brooklyn and blossom in the broad fields of America. (I believe the OU has a directory of out-of-town communities, and you can always ask the mechutanim of your friends’ kids.) Living costs are cheaper, jobs are easier to come by, and your girl doesn’t have to go to Bais Yaakov wearing designer clothes. Come join us.

  10. Wow. How sad. This post is so sad. Why if you have an issue about something does it mean we cannot enjoy it. In my house we love the idea of the family getting together and having so much “fun” doing a Mitzva. We boys enjoy spending time finding that perfect esrog. My girls “fight” over who gets to decorate the Sukkah. My little ones don’t want to light candles if oil is better especially because then their Menorah burns longer. Washing the lettuce for the Marror is a fun time when you know your preparing for an exciting Seder. In our home each child gets to pick the pillow for someone else not for themselves to see who can make someone the most comfortable.

    Is there pressure? Of course! Do Mommy and Tatty go to sleep too late before a Yom Tov and are tired? Without a doubt! Can it be a bit draining at times? You bet! So what? who cares? There is NOTHING better then what it takes as a family to get through a Yom Tov. We thank Hashem for the opportunities almost every month to use our creativity and make this years Yom Tov even better then last years,

    It’s all about your attitude my friend. Don’t worry about others just tune into your Mitzva, your family, your attitude, and all will be so much better.

    If you find Yomim tovim to difficult your kids will grow up feeling the same way. If you treat each yom Tov with all their Halochos as a way of becoming closer to our creator (yes even if it may be a challenge at times) then you will be much happier and have a blast.

    By the way – My son told his Rosh yeshiva that the last 3 years he went out of town to collect for the Yeshiva but he misses Purim at home so much that this year he will be with us – yup dressed up and having a great time with his brothers and sisters delivering our Mishloach Manos (a great theme once again and each Mishloach manos theme and all only will cost us in total $1.79 per piece – thanks to my creative kids).

    Please don’t try to ruin it for the rest of us. Focus on the out of control drinking and children smoking if you want but please stay away from the amazing Mitzva of Mishloach Manos. So many of us LOVE IT!

  11. The best shaloch monos….
    Can of fish…….. $3.00
    A little wine………$4.00
    A pocket mesilas yeshaurim………… Priceless !

  12. Or better yet , join your Jewish extended “Family” in our Holy Land and raise children & grandchildren with being satisfied with the basics , but on a much higher spiritual level & have real Jewish naches .

  13. the writer lives in flatbush but there must be a barrier between BP and flatbush because in BP we all have a great time making fancy stuff and thinking of original ideas and if someone doesnt make fancy themes there is no pressure here. Im happy to live here.

  14. To #3 – neobrisker

    Differece is:

    For Esrogim there are multiple Halachic sources for said ‘presure’ in addition to the Biblical “Pri Etz Hadar…”.

    There is no source for enhancing the mitvah of Misheloach Monos to the extent that is being done. On the contrary, Halacha says that all available extras should go towards Matanos L’Evyonim.

  15. If you dont want to make shaloch manos. Their are great organizations like tomchei shobbas yad yeshaya of far rockaway/five towns that sell purim cards and the money goes to tzedaka.

  16. Aside from the fact that many families enjoy their themed costumes and Mishloach Manos (Purim = Enjoyment…), I have heard many people state that when their mishloach manos is themed, they do not feel pressured to give expensive and ostentatious gift baskets. They feel dignified with a thrifty gift precisely because it matches the theme of their children. They make most, if not all, of the costume and enjoy the whole procedure for a fraction of the expense of dressing to impress. All it takes is a little creativity. Try it sometime.

  17. I think the basic requirement for Mishloach Manos is not even to two people, but rather 2 minim to one person. While Matanos L’Evyonim must be given to at least 2 people. Paranthetically, I don’t think we should spend so much time knocking down people who may celebrate Purim differently than we do. As long as it’s within the boundary of halacha, let them have fun and express their creativity as they wish. If people have the time and the means, it shouldn’t really matter to us, unless we are secretly wishing we could do the same. Yes we have missed the mark in this generation focusing so much on superficialities forgetting the whole point, but there is a way to raise this awareness without being so negative and judgemental of other people. A freilechin Purim!

  18. Although I agree with you I could defend the practice. First of all there is a concept of hidur mitzva. You buy a nice menorah, a nice becher, each person how much he can afford. Mishloach manos is no different 2 things may be perfect but a few more items is nicer. I also think a theme does lend to the hidur mitzva. of course if done with taste. Secondly it says to give many mishloach manos to increase friendship. That sounds like a good idea. A frailichen Purim to all.

  19. Don’t agree- we keep our mishloah manos simple, and fun non-the-less. We enjoy- that is really love- making something that’s attractive to give. Ours cost about $6 apiece, are NOT theme oriented (though there’s nothing wrong with that if it’s funny and brings simcha). Just make something you enjoy giving- it’s not a contest!! It brings a lot of happiness to give special gifts and remember people.

  20. for pete’s sake-let’s leave a little wiggle room for people to do the mitzvah the way they feel is right. It’s not competitive for a mom to enjoy dressing her kids in a theme-sometimes she uses her sewing and crafts talents to have a fun, freiliche Purim. Soon we won’t allow cooking and baking because one baal habasta is better than another. Stop frowning on everyone elses life and Yiddushkeit- and just check your own. Besides- Bklyn has some of the nicest people anywhere-you don’t have to go out of town to find people who would do anything for a neighbor, friend or klal. Stop looking down on everyone and cherish our differences. Do Purim the way YOU want to- a little more or a little less; and enjoy the beautiful thoughts you get from your neighbors and friends. Out of town is quiet, and a little boring compared to the beautiful Chag we have here in Flatbush.(and the adorable costumed kinderlach)

  21. While I agree that it has gotten out of hand, I want to raise one issue. For those of us who enjoy it, Purim is a chance to get our creative juices going. Months ago, I thought about an idea and now it’s coming to fruition. What fun! I made 3 costumes today and put together 30 Mishloach manos that match up with our theme. I truly enjoyed myself. I wish it didn’t become a pressure for others, but please understand that some of us do this because it’s fun and hiddur mitzva,not because we need to outdo everyone else.

  22. It seems every Mitzvah is commercialized. I was trying to find one Mitzvah which is not (yet) commercialized and the one Mitzvah I could think of was ‘tashlich’ on Rosh Hashanah. But in a couple of years I’m sure someone is going to come up with a way to make money on tashlich.

  23. Time to grow up. Do what you feel is right and leave everyone else alone. Don’t write articles b egging everyone else to stop because you are too weak to do so yourself. I give a deli sandwich in a paper bag with a pickle. The same thing for six years running. No theme no embarrassment.

  24. 2 items, not 3 – is l’chol hadei’os.

    a small grape juice (not one sitting in the basement of your grocer from last year, which is not fit to drink), and a small bag of pretzels that you can use for a snack, will cost less than $1 apiece. is that so bad?

  25. I’m very into recycling mishlochei manos (using a bit of creativity to disguise the recycling), except for home-baked goods (because the person went to tremendous effort with you in mind; it’s from the heart). We don’t spend much and are left with almost no sweets in the house after Purim.
    You know, every time I read something like this, whether it’s about lavish weddings or mishlochei manos or Shabbos outfits, I’m very grateful the Hashem guided me to living in a less materialistic community. Outta town communities have all the maalos without these wacky chesronos. B’krov etzlechem.

  26. The pickle and deli sandwich was my favorite mishloach manos every year! I always ate it as soon as I got it. But – did you say 6 years? How come I only got from you 4 times? I thought we were friends!?