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

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mishloach-manos3By Shmuel Miskin,

I must first thank all the readers for the phenomenal feedback to these columns and to for publishing them and working with me to perfect them. The “Matzav Rant” has become somewhat of a worldwide phenomenon and I am grateful to be able to share my views on myriad topics that affect all of our frum communities and spur conversation and debate that, hopefully, see positive results.

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 less than a month 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. Picture the logistics of getting to all these 50 people on your list. Is it doable – drivable and affordable? Fine. If not, and it’s a matter of keeping shalom because people will get offended, or if you want your friends to know they’re thought of, why not give?

    And one is yotzei the mitza with the first – the rest are gravy and only to engender the warm feelings of shalom. Why not let a tzedaka benefit?

  2. at weddings, ppl usually need the gift and can do very well with the extra money. most ppl DO NOT need extra junk food, which is what mishloach manos usually is these days, esp. right before pesach!

  3. its only a way of showing someone who u may have liked to give shloch monos but don’t have the time or money to get to them that you were thinking of them. that’s all. may they should just rewrite the words in lieu of shalch monos and write a donation has been contributed in your zechus. would that make you happy? the same goes for epurim cards . its just a way to show that you thought of them . there is so much going on in klal yisrael, couldn’t you find something else to rant about?



  6. We give to more than one person, so are certainly yotzei the mitzva. The cards (hand delivered with a token 2-item mishloach manos) are a way of saying, we are thinking about you, and are sure you’d rather the money go to tzedaka instead of to more food which will certainly not be appreciated, and will likely be thrown out.

    Mishloach manos has gotten out of hand, and while we would never want to slight anyone who will feel bad if we don’t come to them on Purim. But I cannot imagine chazal had in mind the substantial baal tashchis that comes from each home receiving mishloach manos from 50 -100 people.

    These cards do not take the place of misloach manos; the mitzva being fulfilled here is tzedoka, which is a mitzva year round. What can be wrong with that?

    By the way, I am sure many of your acquaintances would be happy to receive a similar card whenever you make a simcha, rather than an invitation. Who knows, your idea may catch on!

  7. Great point! Either do the Mitzva or don’t do the Mitzva but C”V to do something else “in lieu” of a Mitzva.

    In Shomayim you get no Schar for the Mitzva of Mishloach Manos with your card. You do get for each real Mishloach manos you send. Kol Hamarbeh Harei Zeh Meshubach.

    Did you know there is a reason behind giving Mishloach Manos? Did you know it is better to give Mishloach Manos to someone who you may not be as close to then your best friend? The idea of this great Mitzva is Arvus in Klal Yisroel,bringing less Sinas Chinum, be a Noysayn and to bring more achdus amongst us. So make the effort to drive, to walk, to do whatever you need to (Mesiras Nefesh for a Mitzva is also a good thing) and bring a smile to someone when you give them your gift.

    No need to get carried away and these monster $75 – $250 packages are meaningless. But something small and simple – just to see the smile on another persons face is worth every penney spent. How fortunate we are to have this great mitzva and this great day!

    By the way – I think those families who do the “theme” Mishloach Manos are THE BEST!!!!!! They get into the Mitzva, there is a Simchas Hamitzva, they show that serving Hashem can be fun, it keeps the whole family involved, and believe it or not in most cases it even ends up being cheaper,

    I LOVE PURIM!!!!!!

  8. Back in the day, Mishloach Manos were overdone. I was a the home of a very wealthy family who, of course, got the fanciest Mishloach Manos. They complained about what a waste it was. They were going to be forced to throw most of it out (or drag it to the office, maybe). In any case, people thought up the idea of spending the extra money on Tzedakah. It doesn’t take away from the Mitzvas HaYom in any way, but it does prevent a whole lot of waste. I love getting the cards, because it’s less food for us to throw out.

    What ends up happening is that people give less Mishloach Manos to fewer people, but it’s much more meaningful than sending out 50 baskets or more. Things are home-baked and there is more care put into the smaller number of baskets.

    The cards are a total win-win.

  9. The Tzedakah cards pre-printed with Al-Hamichya, Borei Nefoshos, Asher Yotzar or Krias Shma al Hamitah on the back, in lieu of wedding invitations need to be used for all the guests that exceed the Simcha Guidelines maximum. Why make them shlep in for the Shmorg & Chuppah, Simchas Choson V’Kallah, kugel, and Thursday night bonus cholent? They can pre-record a short tance without getting in the way of the elderly relatives that would like to dance without the vilde bochurim & email the recording to mesameach the choson v’kallah from home!

  10. As Rabbi Miskin writes that the mitzva of Mishloach Manos is two edible food items to one person. How the original mitzva turned into a market of celophane and baskets was beyond Chazal’s imagination. But that is unfortanately the reality today. And the end of Purim, practically noone is looking through the mishloach manos looking to see haw many different flavors of hamantash they got. The biggest concern many have, is that Pesach is 4 weeks away and the I want the kitchen done by Rosh Chodesh, so where is the closest Tomchei Shabbos to drop the wonderful things that everyone put so much creativity in, to drop off. There are those people who are desperate for any food, who the Tomchei Shabbosim of our holy communities know about. And many of those people would actually prefer good wholesome vegtables, or Matza for Peasch, over a fish shaped marzipan or a Laffy-taffy rope shaped like a Vashti’s tail. So this idea of cards, (or Purim Shuttles – or school based group Mishloach manos) is a win-win situation. While noone believes that you are mikayeim the mitzva with the card, better that the sender should spend his Purim with a little more time, and a little less preasure, so that his sholom bayis will be enhanced, and his davening will be with more kavanna, and his Yeshivas Mordechai HaTzaddik will shteig a little better on this holy day, than to shlep to give me his creative Shaloch Manos. All the card is saying, that I didn’t forget about, you are on my list, we are still good friends, and we are both in the same boat, with the same pressures of Purim.

    Sorry for the LOOOOOOONG Megilla.

  11. if chazal would have wanted to give tzdakah instead of shalach manos they would have said so. sending salach manos is a way of engendering brotherhood. sending cards is making yourself feel happy due to the stress involved. tzdahah is a seperate mitzvah not the same as the other. if we want to send shaloch monos why not send one to someone that you didnt get along with as well as you should have this last year i think that is in the spirit of purim.

  12. Al Aileh Ani Bochiya – Hashem look what has happened to your Mitzva you gave us! Don’t look down on us that we are complainers. Be happy with us and realize that we mean well when we give money to Tzedaka and send cards instead of food packages as we are supposed to in order to be Mekayem the Mitzva of Mishloach Manos.

    Hashem we know that giving Tzedaka is a mitzva all the time but Mishloach Manos is an opportunity to do the right way (as you instructed us in your rule book to mean giving 2 prepared food items) reserved for only once a year during the daytime hours of Purim day.

    Hashem – we mean well, we just may a bit off when we try to re-think your master plan on how to make your our Mitzva you gave us and what you instructed us to do seem better in our eyes. We get an “A” for effort and an “F” for the Mitzva…..but we feel better!

    Oy Hashem – please don’t be upset with us (again) when reading these comments posted. Our hearts are in the right place but our brains are a bit confused.

  13. Can you please write a rant explaining why frum people have this irresistable urge to use the word “apropos”? There are other, far more common words that are “appropriate”! Every time I go to a sheva brachos or bar mitzvah the speaker, with his half baked English mentions how this is apropro etc. Who are they trying to impress?
    BTW, I do enjoy your rants, and agree with this one, to a point.
    My peeve is just with the overused “apropros”. In other words, you cana say I am PRO Prose, but ANTI Apropros 😉

  14. I loved Purim when I was younger. If people would just keep the Mischoach manos simpler, everyone would feel much calmer. The cards are helpful for friend who live far away.

  15. Shmuel, great to discuss ‘real issues’ in an open forum.
    1. There are many times when cards are sent to inform about a tzedakah verus a gift. EX: At one of our barmitzvahs, we asked ‘In leui of a bar mitzvah present, please bring a donation of a toy to the children of Sederot’ (which we packed at the simcha and mailed the next day from my son’s yeshiva). At my parents 50th wedding anniversary, a card was included with the invite, “Donations to Sharei Tzedak Trauma Ward are appreciated in leui of gifts of the couple”.
    2. If Chazal instructed us to give mishloach manos, then let’s give it. **CHAZAL NEVER MEANT TO BE GIVING OUT 50+ MISHLOACH MANOS.
    Let us spread rei’us and simcha with mishloach manos,- **WHO SAID that reius and simcha is not spreading when you receive a lovely card.
    To suddenly reinvent the wheel **THANK GD FOR REINVENTING THE WHEEL or i would still be using an outhouse.
    mishloach manos is a huge mitzvah to give to one person, while these cards are primarily MATANOS L’AVYONIM (but who wants to think of themselves as an AVYON).
    hijacking a primary part of the Purim day-** IT IS NOT HIJACKING rather minimizing a caloric, sugary, not sure of hechsherim mitzvah.
    3. MAJORITY of families bring the abundance of Mishloach Manos to distribute to office friends, students, teachers — and/or give it away to TZEDAKAH ANYHOW!!!!

  16. It’s not about the stress for me – I enjoy making and sending mishloach manos. It’s about the overkill and the waste. I have not seen brought down anywhere that sending mishloach manos to 50 people is 50 times the mitzva of sending to one, but I do know that supporting Tomchei Shabbos cannot be wrong.

  17. I absolutely agree with Rabbi Miskin. I have been saying the same thing for years. Getting the card is very unsatisfying to the recipient. most of us understand when people cut back their lists and just do not send us. The people who would not understand would not be happy with a card. People do not have to go crazy and spend fortunes on mishloach monos but it’s possible to send nice ones for a reasonable price. i don’t know about anyone else but in my forties (ba”h), I still check every mishloach monos to see if there is anything exciting. the kids love dividing up the nosh and eating it for the next week. anything anyone doesn’t want is happily eaten by the people who work with my husband. we used to have other people send their unwanted loot to take to work. The people at work never complained that it is too much and they eat it all including all the things we might not like.
    Purim is one day and it should be enjoyed. I agree that people don’t have to give 50+ mishloach monos but cards don’t add any simcha to the day. my own reaction to a card would be I know you thought of me but you could have just left me out.

  18. They had this same problem in the times of the Rambam and he said “It is better to increase Tzedakah on Purim rather than Mishloach Manos or the seudah. By gladdening the poor one emulates Hashem.
    Rambam 2:17

  19. To “cards are not mishloach monos”

    Please let me know who you are and I will take you off my list. I will take you at your word that you will understand and won’t feel bad that I didn’t think of you, and there is nothing “exciting” for you in my mishloach manos anyway. (Nor was there, in the days when I sent food!)

  20. Excess money was not a widespread issue in klal yisroel until America. The excessive shalach manos is an American phenomenon. I mean, where does it say a shalach manos has to have a theme?
    Cards are a great way of cutting down on excess. Shmuel, if you’re hungry for more nosh, you can go around to people’s houses the day after and collect what you want. But don’t mess with the tzedakos, especially in a time of 16.5% real unemploymment.

  21. “Getting the card is very unsatisfying to the recipient. most of us understand when people cut back their lists and just do not send us”.

    The EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY person is happy either way, thanks for sending a card and thinking of me and/or thanks for the MM and thinking of me.

  22. u missunderstood (#5) – got it right. use the cards for people far away – they’re hard to reach so you can use it (not as mitzvah of Mishloach Manos) but as Tzedakah and making someone feel good

  23. The members of my Shul/community are urged to hang a sign on their door on Purim that has in big letters: PIP, which stands for Purim is Poshut. This means two Shalch Manos are given. PERIOD! No reciprocation! No joyous children’s faces . No achdus! NO SHALACH MONOS!

  24. It is a good feeling to know that Klal Yisroel must be in excellent shape when all we have to focus our attention on and “rant” about are these serious and earth shattering issues like sending cards “in lieu” of mishloach manos.

    Yasher Koach for ranting!

  25. A nifty idea
    to send a card
    when any mitzvah
    seems to hard

    Esrogim do cost
    way to high
    I’ll send a card
    That tells you why

    Instead of shaking
    for this year
    I sent some dough
    to Kupat ha’ ir!

  26. #32: your poem would be be relevant if people sent cards instead of doing the mitzva. I am not aware of anyone who does so. We send cards in addition to doing the mitzva of mishloach manos; how about a poem saying how nice it is to donate money instead of wasting it? If you’d like, you can copy the one on the Tomchei Shabbos cards.

  27. Of course, it is a basic machlokes between the trumas hadeshen and the mnos halevi. is the nature of the mitzvah for seudad purim (and if this is the case – nosh doesn’t count either!) or if it is for reyus – the cards certainly fulfill that. So, if you send chicken and potatoes to one person and send cards to everyone else – you were yotzei l’mehadrin l’chol ha-dayos!

  28. ummm #9 ur right you dont get more schar for mishloach manos, but how about the schar you get for giving tzedaka instead? im not gonna argue that either way is right, but it is stupidity to decide that either way is wrong

  29. While the ikkur mitzva is with food, there are opinions that say that you are yotzei with non-food items. There are 2 reasons brought down for this mitzvah. 1- to ensure that everyone has food for the seuda. (by the way, it is questionable if nosh fulfills this requiremnet) 2- to increase friendships and unity amongst the Jews. According to this opinion, one can fulfill his obligation by giving non-food items, as long as it is marbe reius. Giving a purim card, in lieu of shalach manos, one could argue that there is that aspect involved. Another point though is that a lot of the Purim cards out there are so cheap and everyone knows that, that the recipient doesn’t feel so much reius from them as he knows that he didn’t rate to get a real shalach manos. Purim cards are a great way to send something to someone that you wouldn’t be able to get to on Purim, for example, out of town relatives and friends. A great idea for your Purim cards can be found at


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