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

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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 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}


  1. Um, the Rambam disagrees with you. He poskens that we should rather spend extra money on Matonot L’evyonim and less on Seudah and Mishloach Manot. Perhaps you should ask a Rav before you write articles Poskening which Mitzvot have priority over others.

  2. What an utterly foolish article. Indeed, a wedding can probably do with much less food but when people shlep from all over to attend and are counting on a meal instead of eating supper at home, potato kugel won’t suffice.
    On Purim, however, we all have plenty to eat and more than enough nosh to keep us busy for weeks. There’s no reason for more and by giving money instead to a Tzedakah one has managed to express friendship while still doing something positive.

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Reform Judaism began with people who felt that they had better ideas about Yiddishkeit than Chazal!

  4. I agree and disagree. Sending cards in lieu of a mitzvah is ridiculous. except where alternatives are provided by the Torah or Chaza”l, (i.e different level of korbonos depending on financial ability, yibum vs chalitza) It is preposterous for us to make our own creative solutions. That said, there is no chiyuv to spend lavish amounts on Mishloach manos in style and quantity just to keep up with the Jones’.

    On an expanded plane, I think it is quite unfortunate that organizations have co-opted Purim and its mitzvos as an opportunity to fund raise for their mosdos. While raising money for mosdos is of extreme importance, Purim is neither the time nor place. the mitzvah of matanos l’evyonim is for the yechidim in need. with so many people out of work and struggling financially in one’s own local community, it is almost criminal for mosdos to send bocherim out of town to choice locations to divert moneys that ought to be spent on local aniyim for other (while noble) purposes.

  5. how do you expect people to rid their home of
    junk chametz if not by sending it along to your neighbor and friends. By sending cards one
    still this problem.

  6. To the author: Do you do any research before writing an article?

    As pointed out in comment #1 the Rambam is the one who makes the “shayches” and he is also quoted by many other sifrei halocha.

  7. This is a bit simplistic – We all love our go down the block, and get 50 cents memories, but reality is that everybody’s circle of acquaintances has broadened, purim traffic is a killer, and you are no longer dealing with 10-15 shalach manos in your neighborhood. There are many people that you want to remember, that you would send your homemade themed shalach manos, if they lived down the block, but they are too far and too many, so why not use the opportunity to combine the tzedokah/shalach manos card idea. Everybody wins – the tzedokah raises money, and you and your recipient are both mishtatef in the mitzvah. Great solution! Enjoy it…………

  8. Dear Shmuel Miskin,
    Your words are as sweet and tart as the 17 apricot hamentashen I just ingested. The concept of cards being distributed on Purim in lieu of shaloch manos is the equivalent of a chulaptche without meat, or a kehilla without machlokes. I am currently in the process of making prank phone calls to the orginizations that send out cards.
    Chazak v’ematz Rav Shmuel!!!!!!

  9. The real mitzvah of Purim is “ahd d’lo yodah.” The sooner we reach that stage, the better. Part of shelach manos is, hopefully, some “mashkeh.” Try replacing “mashkeh” with some card. All the Poskim and contemporary Rabbonim agree that replacing “mashkeh” with some card is imposible. Accordingly, the Halacha is self evident !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Reb shmuel, if you’re that hungry just go door to door and ask for unwanted shalach manos junk. Kol haposeach yad nosnin lo…

  11. Because the truth hurts … imagine the honest card:
    I am not sending you shaloch manos because I decided to give more matanos l’evyonim instead. Freilichin Purim!

    Actually it sounds pretty good.

    Maybe we are just bending over backwards to try to make the over-sensitive person think that we sent him/her m’shaloch manos when we didn’t.

  12. i 100% agree with you!!! Almost all of us have wonderfull memories of Purim growing up and we are robbing our children of these memories with the concept of the card. NOONE is saying that the same people are not giving generous amounts of Tzedakah. There is no chiyuv to only give tzedakah and not enjoy yourself, the mitvos are clear, you are supposed to give tzedakah and mishloach monos, why are we trying to reinvent the wheel?

  13. Cool. I just saw this Q&A here:

    649) Q: we know that one of the mitzvot of Purim is mishloach manot. Many organizations offer cards, etc. to send to people in lieu of mishloach manot, which according to the organization fulfills both the mitzvah of mishloach manot and mataynos l’evyonim. Is this permissible or is it still better to separate the two mitzvot?

    A: You cannot fulfill Mishloach Manos with these cards, only Matanos L’Evyonim.

    However, once you fulfill Mishloach Manos in the traditional way, it is indeed praiseworthy to give extra charity/Matanos L’Evyonim “in lieu” of extra Mishloach Manos, as the Rambam Hilchos Megilah Perek 2:17 writes: “It is better for one to give additional “Matanos L’Evyonim” rather than to embellish their Purim Seudah and/or give additional Mishloach Manos to their friends, as there is no greater and more glorious Simcha than to gladden the hearts of the less fortunate poor people, orphans, widows and converts. One who lifts the spirits and gladdens the hearts of these less fortunate individuals, is likened to the Shechina!”

  14. Perhaps you paskin like the Terumos Hadeshen, but if yu were to paskin like the Manos HaLevi (R’ Shlomo Alkabetz) who holds the purpose of Meshloach Manos is to increase reius, then you could argue that although you cannot be yoztei your chiyuv with a card, at lease people know you were thinking of them and that can create reius. It’s at least in the spirit of the day.

  15. has anyone seen the traffic in lakewood or brooklyn on purim??? there’s not enough hours in the day to get through all the crowded congested streets to give everyone we should. cards take their place…”we wouldve come but we can’t possibly. still you are not forgotten and tzedaka was given at the same time!”

  16. i agree but what can we do this is the least of our problems make a rant instead of people in monsey going to a mixed gym ie thats it this is the smallest thing!!!!

  17. This was printed in Last Year’s Yated!

    This year I got
    A nice card
    It read “This year
    It’s new!

    No more
    Mishloach Manos
    This year
    We send in lieu!”

    In Lieu of
    “Shalach Manos”
    We are sending you
    This note

    And in your honor
    We have sent
    A check
    to three Mosdot!

    We’re sorry
    We’re not sending
    No chocolate
    or no wine

    Cause this year
    We have sent
    A check
    To a tzedakah
    of mine

    I thought
    That’s really interesting
    In fact
    I thought it cool

    Imagine if
    I could do that
    For every
    Single rule

    I won’t look
    For an esrog
    Cause that is
    often hard

    I will just send
    The soicher
    A brightly
    colored card

    In lieu
    of buying esrog
    I need not look
    For fleck
    Instead, I sent
    A moisad
    A fifty-dollar check

    I need not set
    I need not twist
    a wick

    I’ll send
    A card
    That’s not to hard
    And it can do the trick

    It may even
    Work for weddings
    A new response
    Type card

    Don’t need to send
    A gift to us
    Or say if you’ll attend

    Instead just choose
    a charity
    to them
    a gift you’ll send

    No more crunching
    Or blowing shofar too

    Cause you can send
    A card that says
    I’m doing this
    In lieu!

    Why not take it further
    Now here’s a real nice test
    Where in lieu
    Would really work
    Where some would like it best

    In lieu of a new Lexus
    I bought a beat up Ford
    And send a card
    With a big check
    To a Moisad I’ve adored

    Imagine if at weddings
    No flowers would they place
    “In lieu of flowers
    We have helped
    A real rachmunes case!”

    And then
    A strange thing

    I think
    It was July
    I got Mishloach Manos
    From someone
    Who stopped by

    Inside the simple basket
    A crumpled note
    I saw
    Inside the box
    With Hamentash
    They left
    Beside my door

    “The money that I
    Owe you
    I cannot really pay
    But here’s
    Mishloach Manos
    For that’s my way to say

    In lieu of paying
    Up my debt
    Which I felt was too hard
    I sent Mishloach Manos
    With this brightly colored card

  18. Larry, if you and your friends all agreed to give each other cards as a sign of friendship instead of all the chametz junk, none of you would have the problem of needing to get rid of it. Think of all the money wasted on stuff nobody wants when that money would beof greater and better use in the hands of evyonim. The point of mishloach manos is to create achdus between yiddin, and that purpose can be better served by exchanging cards to demonstrate caring, while channeling the bulk of the money to those who really need it,(now so, more than ever.) According to halachoh you only need to give two food items to ONE person. No one says it is meshubach to be marbeh in mishloach manos and give 50 or 60 fancy, expensive, thematic shalach manos, which will be immediately deposited in the trash and recycling bins.

  19. Don’t you think that the neighbors who sent you a card have sent the required mishloach manos to at least two people? This is their way of letting you know that they are thinking of you, even as they devote more resources to matonos l’evyonim.
    If you don’t have enough nosh, there should be plenty on sale the day after Purim.

  20. Mishloach manos packages really are a lot more enjoyable, but with the supplies we have on hand that we run out of time to distribute, we’ll have plenty to eat.

  21. The cards are not meant for people you want to give sholach manos to, They are meant for those who you really dont want to give but feel a chiuv to. People therefore are still doing the mitzvah of shalach manos, to those they want to give and being marbeh re’eus, and giving more money to matanos l’evyonim than they normally would.

  22. To all those who quote the rambam Even according to the rambam its not “in lieu of mishloach manos.” its regular matanos la’evyonim that you should give more then mishloach manos so just give your one mishloach manos and the rest give tzdekah but whats the point of alerting your friend to this.

  23. How is it marbeh reius when you tell someone you are not important enough to me to be yotzeh mishloach manos with? When I get the cards I read it as “we don’t feel you are important enough to shlep to you to be yotzei the mitzvah so I have tzedakah instead”


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