By Shmuel Miskin
My feelings 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 just a few days away.
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 Miskin-Matzav.com Newscenter
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