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


mishloach-manos3By 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 Newscenter


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. Thank you for posting this. I agree wholeheartedly! What’s wrong with just doing a mitzva the way that Chazal intended for us to do it? Why do people have to be iberchuchumims at the expense of kiyum hamitzvos?

  2. The idea was born some 20 years ago. The stress and cost of delivering and preparing dozens of packages to be mekayim the mitzvah was now becoming the norm. The intent of the mitzvah was not to affect shalom bayis and cause great hardship. Two, just 2 is what is required. so 2 in our times was growing to be dozens and even perhaps 100 plus so as not to insult someone. so a Rav (of my shul) suggested a card at 1 dollar a name or 50 to all the people in shul. AND to send to a dozen of your close friends and relatives. Now that has become its own business but the idea was innocent and wise. sounds like a vort which is now a chasunah. Or sheva brachos or aufruf which is now a weekend retreat. Or a bar mitzvah with a chartered airplane to Eretz Yisroel.

  3. The issue is one of bal tashchis. So close to Pesach, shlach monos – most of which is chometz – winds up in the trash.

    Seems to me a win-win, to (1) give one “real” shelach manos to be yotzeh; (2) give as many shlach monos cards as one wants to be yotzeh matanos l’evyonim and at the same time increase ahavah v’reiius (yes, some people enjoy receiving a card).

    A Kosher Purim to all!

  4. Yes! Yes! Yes! Thank you!

    I agree 100%. It is so sad to see and hear people complaining and or trying to change Mitzvos. Mishloach Manos is from the most fun and exciting Mitzvos and so easy to do. If you can’t handle it – don’t do it but please stop trying to make me feel bad that I love this Mitzva or that i go overboard or my excitement creates pressure on you to do more. Give Give Give and keep giving as many as you can. Show all the people you care about them. Give your neighbors, give the people in Shul, give family, give friends, give not yet frum people, give teachers, Rabbeim and Rabbonim, give give give with a smile and you will always be zocheh to give. If not, then don’t complain when you cant give or you don’t get.

    I give out over 200 and don’t even spend $2 on each. who cares? Just the look on someone elses face when you show up to let them know you care about them and are thinking of them – when you show them your smile (not a card in the mail) is worth millions. The reward is great here and now and will be great in the next world as well. The more you give and show achdus vrayus the faster moshiach will come.

  5. The mitzva of mishloach manos is to one person. After that it is no longer the original mitva because the mitzva wa sdone already. Contiuing to give after is still mishloach manos but only in its literal sence of one giving someone a portion of food. So why waste food which will be thrown out wwhen u can do better by giving tzedacka cards in place of. We all know its shalach manos because we did the mitzva with the first one. I don’t follow your argument

  6. You know what, your 100% right. How am I supposed to re-package purim cards that someone gives me? It’s not fair that people send cards, now I have to go buy tons of nosh and give THAT out….oh wait!

  7. No, its a great idea. Dear Family, Instead of spending 10,000 dollars on a bar mitzvah, we’ve decided to impress you and our neighbors a different way…by sending a donation.
    Yes, Yes! You have finally hit upon the solution to elaborate simchas!
    But this wouldn’t help for the tuition crises, since kids still need to go to yeshiva. And people need to get married, so it wouldn’t help with the shidduch crises either.

  8. Kudos to you for addressing this. It is about time that people realize this has no place on Purim. Give Tzedakah generously. Give Shaloch Manos generously. Don’t combine the two. If you feel the need to give me a Shaloch Manos card, please give me the s’char for the tzedakah as well. saying it wa sgiven in my name does nothing for me without the s’char for it.

  9. The rambam says that you should spend more on tzedaka then mashalach manos.The purim cards is a great way to give tzedaka to worthwile organizations. While at the same time you save SOME of your day sitting in purim traffic delivering hundreds of dollars worth of shaloch manos that the recipeint will most likely throw out before pesach.THIS IS NOT OF LIEU OF SHALOCH MANOS BUT RATHER FUFILLING THE EIKER OF THE DAY AND GIVING PEOPLE THAT HAVE NOTHING THE MINIMUM FOOD (BY SUPPORTING THE ORGANIZATION) RATHER THEN WAISTING MONEY ON FANCY SHALOCH MANOS.Simply give a few shaloch manos to your closest friends and let the people that can really use it get the rest of the money that you are going to spend on fancy shaloch manos.
    P.S this isnt in lieu of shaloch manos in fact most of the cards say in the purim spirit… and dont try to be all frum by giving tzedaka you are mikaim 12 mitzvah dairaisas so how can you be wrong for giving tzedaka.

  10. As I wrote yesterday, the problem here is that Mishloach Manos “feels” like frivolity unlike esrog, matza, tefillin and so many other things that “feel” like Mitzvos. Accordingly, people have trouble understanding the importance of being Mehader, being Medakdek, and – yes – being MARBE in this beautiful Mitzvah. As the Rambam writes: ???? ????? ????? ?????? ?????. Same lashon as by Sippur Yetzias Mitzrayim!!!

  11. Why dont you focus on real problems facing Klal Yisrael such as loshon hora, machlokes, talking during davening and tzenius problems? These childish concerns are nothing more than that. Lets worry about real issues instead of shtusim that concersn you

  12. Actually, your chasunah idea is awesome. Will lower the costs tremendously, although people will likely give less in gifts. Everyone wins! Our costs will go down.

  13. “Pshita”.
    The cards are for those people who get Mishloach Manos from someone,so they don’t feel embarrased that they are not giving anything in return.
    Nothing wrong with having a limit.When I buy an Esrog I draw a limit.When I buy a Mezuzah I draw a limit.I buy what I can afford.Especially if the Mishloach Manos will just get thrown out or sent to the office the next day anyway.

  14. “If Chazal instructed us to give…let’s give it.” Maybe Chazal understood “ish lere’ehu” in such a minimal way precisely in order not to encourage outrageous spending on food for 50 people?

    The cards foster re’us without the waste and the money goes to tzedakah. Why is that a problem?

  15. one only has to give two out and even those that are supporting organization that are in fact putting food on the tables of the poor under employed so that too can have a suder is more important then your ridiculous posting. guess some people have to much time on there hands

  16. The Rambam writes thatits better to increase Matanos L’Evyonim RATHER than increase Mishloach Manos. Thus these cards which provide support to needy people and organizations are good to do RATHER than add some more fancy Mishloach Manos.

    Yes, once you have been yotzei the basic mitzvah of Mishloach Manos to a few people, they should then send cards or other Matanos L’evyonim IN LIEU of spending money on extra Mishloach Manos.

  17. I completely agree! Receiving these cards annoys me- it doesn’t create warm feelings of achdus vraius! Give tzedaka on your own cheshbon- If you don’t want to send me mishloach manos- don’t- I won’t hold it against you, but don’t tell me this card is in lieu of shalach manos- one has nothing to do with the other!


  19. The point is that you are telling the recipient that you are thinking of him on Purim. I think a card that money was donated to a Tzedaka gets that point across and who needs piles of jelly beans !

  20. Great article! I second the motion fully. Especially since these cards, instead of spreading ahava and reus, may very well accomplish just the opposite.
    To me the cards say, “I don’t feel it necessary to put money and/or effort into giving you a special Purim gift, so you get nothing. A Freilichen Purim”. Talk about throwing cold water on what is otherwise a joyous, funfilled day.

  21. Sending lots of people lots of mishloach manos is fine. But for some, it’s more of a burden. For some, there’s also a big hassle, with not enough time in the day. But you wouldn’t want to insult some of these people. So these cards are a nice way of saying “we’re thinking of you”, without the potchka, expense, or mess.

    If you don’t like it, don’t do it. But for others, it’s much easier than preparing and giving 50+ mishloach manos, and then having to deal with the leftovers of that many received.

  22. Its called a “Friendship Card” that is sent to friends, relatives, associates near and far while the money spent is used for tzedakah.

    No one sends MM Cards instead of fulfilling the mitzvoh with a concrete MM. It increase rayuus and builds relationships. Enjoy them..

  23. If Chazal instructed us to give mishloach manos, then let’s give it

    Mishloach Manos of today (cellphone, ribbons, fragile glassware, presents, wooden ornaments, etc. CANDY/CAKES) have MINUS ZERO connection to the mishloach manos described by Chazal. My great grandparents in the 1950s sent Tam Tam crackers and herring for Manos on a paper plate with a napkin included, which is probably closer to what Chazal had in mind.

  24. get a life!
    no one belives that they are being mekayem the mitzvah through these cards
    its just that in todays society its accepted that you give all your friends and assoc and some might be insulted if they dont get
    and in truth no one really needs all this recycled nosh etc

    if i give to all my freinds and they give me back i will end up with all the tomche shabbos and kern anyim that i bought originally

    so to save all this thrown out food etc and to really do a mitzvah that is what these cards are about

  25. though your point is well taken, there is another angle to consider (which the tzadaka orgs. bring to light. The Rambam tells us that increasing Matonos to aniyim takes precedence over extra mishloach manos,as mentioned in the mishnah berurah as well.

  26. Let me explain this to you. First of all, not everyone is as fortunate as apparently you are to be able to afford to send mishloach manos to all 50, 75, 100 etc people that are friends and/ or people who would expect to receive something from you. Even using your number of 50 people, and even using a very conservative $5 per mishloach manos, that’s $250 right there. Chazal say that one should spend more money on matanos l’evyonim (and perhaps tzedakah in general) on Purim than on mishloach manos. So now you’re talking at least $500. Or, looking at it the other way, Chazal are clearly indicating that if one has X amount of money, say for example, $250, he should spend the majority of it on matanos l’evyonim RATHER than, as you say, “And if we have 50 people to give to, then so be it”.
    Add to all this the fact that many families simply do not have enough time to deliver to all 50, 75, etc addresses spread all across town in addition to getting to each child’s rebbe/ morah/ teacher within the allotted timeframe. The words “in lieu of” is not meant to imply that these cards are being sent to be mekayim the mitzvah of mishloach manos instead of with food. Rather, it’s simply a shortened way (inaccurate and poorly worded as it may be)to say- you are a cherished friend and I would like you to know that. However, as a result of all the above, I am simply unable to deliver mishloach manos to you in order to demonstrate this “reyus.” Instead, I am sending this card to let you know that I value you as a friend, and am being mekayim divrei Chazal of spending more on matanos l’evyonim while still letting you know you are not forgotten. Any understanding person should warmly accept this exactly as intended without grumbling that they’re not mekayim the mitzvah. Personally, we give to neighbors and friends who are within a certain distance,and send cards to the rest. We used to spend lots of money – although we still spend a lot now – (and in those years I believe I was NOT able to be mekayim Chazal about spending more on matanos l’evyonim than on mishloach manos) and time trying to get all over town, and barely managing to daven mincha and get to our seudah -late -. We give about 35 mishloach manos plus rebbeim, rav, and teachers and plus giving back to others who bring us mishloach manos, and we send out about 25 to 35 cards. The “saved” money on these 25-35 can now be given for matanos l’evyonim and other tzedakahs instead. Sorry you disagree, but I believe this is perfectly in line with what Chazal direct us to do.

  27. chazal said that giving to ONE PERSON is “marbe re’us”as the pasuk says “ish le’re’ehu”. modern times reinvented that to be 50 people. this is the best way to show friendship, not waste money on junk, not eat junk, give tzedakah (which chazal said you need to give to more than one person), stay modest (modern mishloach manos ‘themes’ aside) and it’s innovative WITHIN halacha. Your complaint sounds quite petty.

  28. Better solution – So I guess for my next simcha I will be sending out the following cards:
    “In lieu of inviting you to our simcha a donation has been made to the human fund. Tizku LeMitzvos”

  29. Well said. On Tisha B’av we are restricted from greeting people, likely as a punishment because we did not greet people properly during the rest of the year. On Purim we have a unique opportunity to interact with others and should take advantage of it in the manner prescribed by Chazal. While giving tzedakah is extremely important, and the halacha proscribes spending more for matanos l’evyonim than for mishloach manos, this does not mean that the practice of giving mishloach manos should be abandoned.

  30. I think it is a wonderful idea. Who said that shalach manos was meant to be given to many people? Perhaps it was meant to be given to one person as is mentioned in Halacha. Perhaps people feel pressured to give many because it has evolved into giving to so many people. “In lieu” doesn’t mean in lieu of the mitzva, but rather in lieu of giving shalach manos. And as you mentioned, of course everyone knows they are not fulfilling the Mitzvah of Shalach manos!

  31. I hear your point. You are right. But still, I know many people including myself who either are getting older and have a hard time delivering the mishloach manos (no kids at home anymore) or find the endless amount of mishloach manos to be more than they can afford. The card is a way of saying, “I am not sending you mishloach manos, but please don’t feel hurt, I’m still thinking of you and I wish you a happy purim.” So although you certainly are in the right, I would suggest that you don’t argue with those that choose to do this. They have their good reasons.

  32. #4 if people would concentrate on the mitzva instead of on “themes” they would have no problem with Baal tashches. In my time, my mother baked a Kindel and maybe another piece of cake and put a nice apple or orange in, maybe a piece of choc. if I recall well and off it went…and not to the whole neighborhood, and half the world to prove how talented we were…the craziness has got to stop. We looked forward to tasting the good cakes WE received as my mother put them all into one big box and we were able to “choose” the ones we liked.
    It was a treat for us and a simcha to pick it out…unlike today, the kids don’t appreciate anything…they know all the nash, tasted it all…have it all.
    We are living in crazy times… me, sometings gotta give….(and it is)

  33. I participated in the sale of these cards for years. ALL proceeds went to Tomchei Shabbos. So people spent less on extra mishloach manos and instead put food on their neighbors table. Tsedaka is always a mitzvah, and it was a great way to dial down the “wasted money” and funnel it to tsedaka.

  34. I love the card thing. I’d rather a legitimate tzedaka get money than me receive candy and wine. Theoretically taken to an extreme, then it’s kind of sad to receive only cards and no actual mishlochei manos, but that wouldn’t happen.

    And the analogy to receiving such a card in lieu of a wedding present is completely off. Wedding presents are specifically to help the new couple start off, whether its money or household gifts. No one would do such a stupid, insensitive thing (except for some partially assimilated American Jews over 50 who will send you a certificate saying they planted a tree for you in Israel in lieu of a wedding gift).

    But people aren’t counting on mishloach manos to make it through the week, or even the seuda.

  35. didn’t read all the comments, but we do it for the same reasons as #3 and #4 – way too much money, too much effort, too much chometz right before passover – and who needs all that candy and stuff anyway?

    We now make up 5 baskets, pick 5 names out of a hat – they get the baskets, everyone else gets cards. I can’t help it if they don’t like it; I’d rather give $100 to a tzedakah that feeds the poor – at least those folks will benefit from it.