Purim is fast approaching and that also means the annual mishloach manos orgy of candy nobody needs is also almost upon us. Everybody pretty much agrees that mishloach manos has gotten out of control. People spend way too much money, in attempts to impress others. And most of the food is wasted – how many wafers and chocolate bars does any one person need anyway?
I would like to share what I read on Life in Israel by Rafi G. He states:
The fact that some people want to do the mitzvah with great beauty and adornment is wonderful, and more power to them. The problem is when it becomes a social pressure that if you don’t give everyone you know, and give them an impressive basket, than you are worthless (or worth less). It gets out of hand, and people spend too much money – money they don’t have or that would be better spent elsewhere (such as on basic necessities) – on mishloach manos, purely because of the pressure they are under because they think people are comparing.
I don’t want to tell anyone where and how to spend their money. Go spend it on whatever you want. If you want to give big, fancy and expensive mishloach manos, go ahead. But don’t do it because you are under pressure to keep up with the Joneses.
Here is what we do:
- In our building, every family gives only to one other family in the building, decided by lottery.
- We stopped along time ago succumbing to the desire to give better mishloach manos to everybody we know, so we only give the absolute minimum we can get away with, which is usually 3 or 4.
- We prepare a few basic plates to reciprocate when people give us.
- Each of our kids gets to choose 2 friends to give mishloach manos to. The mishloach manos consist of a home baked hamentash and a piece of chocolate (or some other candy).
- We give through our shul to friends in the shul, which is really a fundraiser and not really mishloach manos.
The one big expense we have is the kids rabbeim. We have to give them, and that seems to be the standard and is mainly considered a bribe so that they will pay better attention to our kids. I am not sure what the bribe is if everyone gives the bribe. But if we don’t then our kid will be the only kid not getting the better attention, so we give. But we give a new sefer and a bottle of wine, instead of cash or big elaborate gifts.
I don’t think this obligation is proper. Many people in the school have little money for extravagant mishloach mano sfor the rebbi. Some of them are hard-working families, and don’t have money to spend like that. Other families are kollel families, with even less money available. And if a family has a few kids, the expense of money or mishloach manos to the rabbeim and teachers can be overwhelming.
Especially in these days of financial uncertainty – do not overspend just because of “peer pressure.”
If enough people are more careful with prioritizing their mishloach manos spending and not succumbing to peer pressure, perhaps the peer pressure on others will also be lightened…
Chaya Sarah L.