The Matzav Shmoooze: 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 tonight.

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. Iran’s recalcitrance is no doubt Netanyahu’s fault. Why else would the peace-loving Iran not agree to this? How dare Netanyahu try to protect his country? And the world?

  2. “Let us spread rei’us and simcha with mishloach manos, as Chazal prescribed.”

    While we are obligated to give mishloach manos to at least one person, halacha is very clear about where to focus our efforts and expenses:
    ??. ???? ???? ?????? ?????? ??????? ??????? ??????? ?????? ???? ?????, ???? ?? ???? ????? ??????? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??????? ??????? ?????, ?????? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ?????? ??? ????? ??????? ?? ??????.
    (Rambam, Hilchos Megillah, Perek 2, Halcha 17)

  3. I have long agreed with you regarding Mishloach Manos cards.
    However, that wedding card you write in the end, would actually be an amazing idea, albiet to a lesser degree, modified with some tweaking. Weddings have become to much by rote too, in our generation of b”H so many.
    Anyone want to pick up the ball?

  4. The cards usually say on them that they are in the spirit of Purim, not in place of normal mishloach manot. I think it’s a beautiful idea to invest in our mosdos in addition to the mitzvos hayom.

  5. Silly article
    Spreading “simcha & rayus” is accomplished by receiving a decorated card also. Most cards are sent to family & friends that U can NOT reach of get to on Pufim day. Not sure the majority of people love sour sticks., foot roll ups or even Chumus dips. Spreading happiness & friendship has many options & via mail works too

  6. The cards do the opposite of spreading Shalom v’Rayus. I know that you give Mishloach Manos to your REAL friends. The cards are for the second and third string friends. Give me a card, and I know where we stand.

  7. * My neighbor sent me one of those “in lieu of” cards, so I sent one back to him. I wasn’t going to waste one of my shalach manos on him.
    * In lieu of matanos l’evyonim, I sent more shalach manos to some of my friends.
    * In lieu of marror, I will have another cup…