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 Drinking On Purim The Mishloach Monos Dilemma


Mishloach Monos

Issues in Practical Halacha
Issue Number 28 - Purim, 5757
Compiled and Published by
Kollel Menachem - Lubavitch (Melbourne, Australia)
in the zechus of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
This article is not intended to decide halachic questions, but rather to clarify them in a clear and concise form. Please refer all your practical questions to your local Rabbi.

The following aspects of the mitzva of mishloach monos on Purim are discussed:

  1. The mitzva and its reasons
  2. Who is obligated in the mitzva?
  3. The time of the mitzva
  4. What may be used for mishloach monos?
  5. Quantities
  6. Whether the monos must be of different kinds
  7. Mishloach monos through an agent (shaliach)
  8. To whom are they sent?

The Mitzva and its Reasons

The Gemorra [1] learns from the verse in the Megilla (9,22) "... to make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions to one another, and gifts to the poor" that the mitzva of mishloach monos is fulfilled where one has sent two "portions" (monos) to one person.

The following reasons are given for the mitzva:

The T'rumas Hadeshen [2] states that there is a mitzva of mishloach monos in order that everyone should have sufficient food for his festive Purim meal (s'udas Purim).

The Chasam Sofer [3] explains why this should include sending gifts of food also to those who are wealthy: namely, to avoid the embarrassment which would result to the poor if monos were sent only to them.

The Sefer Monos HaLevi writes that the reason for mishloach monos is to increase friendship and harmony. The Chasam Sofer [4] elaborates this reason as follows. The decree of Haman came about since, in the words of the Megilla (3:8) "there is a people dispersed and separate amongst the nations". This is an allusion to the spiritual malady of the Jewish people at that time: division and disunity ("dispersed and separate").
Accordingly,the Rabbis instituted mishloach monos in order to create unity amongst Jews.

Yet another explanation, offered by the Bach [5], is that the purpose of mishloach monos is simcha: through sending monos one rejoices with one's friends as well as bringing brotherliness and love.

In Likkutei Sichos [6], it is explained that the words of the Megillah, "..to make them days of feasting and joy", teach that Purim is a day of joy (simcha) and all the mitzvos of Purim, including mishloach monos, are merely an extension of that joy. [7]

The first two reasons constitute two different emphases. According to the T'rumas Hadeshen, the focus is on the recipient . For the Monos HaLevi the emphasis is on the giver, who through mishloach monos expresses his love for his fellow Jew. The view of the Bach would seem to be like that of the Monos HaLevi in this regard.

It should be noted, however, that the Bonei Chayei [8] writes that the reason for this mitzvah is to bring joy to (not, as the Bach maintains, the giver, but rather to) the recipient.

Who is Obligated in the Mitzva?

While the Remo [9] states that women are obligated in mishloach monos like men, the Mogen Avrohom [10] states that he had not seen that women were particularly accustomed to perform this mitzva themselves. He maintains that the words of the Remo may apply to a widow, but in the case of married women, their husbands send mishloach monos on their behalf. Nevertheless, he concludes that women should be stringent to fulfil the mitzva themselves.

Indeed, the Orach HaShulchon [11] writes that nowdays women are careful to send mishloach monos themselves.

The Shaarei T'shuva [12] writes that women are definitely obligated since they too were part of the miracle of Purim and the verse "... the Jews took upon themselves..." clearly includes women.

The P'ri Megadim [13] states that one should educate children in the mitzva of mishloach monos, although they are not presently obligated.

And in Likkutei Sichos [14], it is written that those who have some influence on Jewish children, and specifically those involved in education, should encourage them to fulfil the mitzva of mishloach monos themselves.

The Time of the Mitzva

The Remo [15] rules that the mitzvah of mishloach monos is on the day - not the night - of Purim. A reason for this is stated in the name of the Ba'al Hama'or [16], that if the the monos are received at night they might be eaten then and the recipient would not have the wherewithal to fulfil his mitzvah of the Purim meal during the day.

A question arises with regard to sending the monos before Purim such that they will arrive on Purim. On the one hand, according to the words of the Remo, and according to the second reason for mishloach monos set out above - that they are for the giver to demonstrate his love for his fellow - the sending by the giver should be on Purim.

However, the Baer Heitiv [17] writes in the name of the Yad Aharon [18] that if the monos will arrive on Purim - and the sender can be sure that the recipient will not eat them before Purim (in accordance with the stricture of the Ba'al Hama'or), he has fulfilled the mitzvah. This is in accordance with the first reason for mishloach monos, above, that the recipient have them for his Purim meal.

Sha'alos u'T'shuvos Yehudah Ya'aleh [19] pursues this line of reasoning explaining further that the sending prior to Purim is merely a preparation for the mitzvah, which is completed with the receiving of the monos on Purim. All of the foregoing, of course, presumes that the monos, sent by mail etc., are received on Purim and not after it.

The Sha'alos u'Tshuvos L'vushei Mordechai [20] writes that it is inconceivable that one can fulfil a mitzva of Purim with an act not actually performed on the day of Purim. He therefore rules that if one is in a place where there is no one to whom he can send mishloach monos he should send mishloach monos (in advance) which will arrive on Purim day (in accordance with the authorities). On the day of Purim he should set aside two monos to give to someone at a later date.

What May be Used for Mishloach Monos?

The Taz [21] and Mogen Avrohom [22] both rule that only food and drink - as distinct from utensils etc. - may be sent.

>From several Acharonim [23] it would seem that even raw meat could be sent as a mono. Yet the Mogen Avrohom [24] argues that meat would have to be ready to eat, i.e. cooked etc.

Quantities

Concerning the quantities of each of the two monos, constituting the basic mitzva, there are many opinions. Some, basing themselves on the account of the Gemorra [25] that Abaye bar Avin and Rav Chanina bar Avin exchanged their Purim meals, and with this fulfilled the mitzva of mishloach monos, rule that the quantity has to be sufficient for a meal (3 k'beitzim - see Shaalos u'Tshuvos Zera Yaakov [26] cited in Shaarei T'shuva [27]).

The P'ri Megadim [28] writes that each portion should be of a sufficient size to be considered "honourable" in one's place.

Others [29] state that if each of the two monos have the volume of a k'zayis, one has fulfilled his obligation, while the Maharsha [30] notes that a mono could be any size.

Whether the Monos Must be of Different Kinds

The Oruch HaShulchon [31] infers from the words of the Rambam [32] that the monos must be of two completely different kinds.

However, the Tzitz Eliezer [33] notes a variation between the words of the Shulchon Oruch [34] and those of the Rambam, the Shulchon Oruch indicating that one may send two monos of the same kind. Moreover, he finds a version of the Rambam which is similar to the words of the Shulchon Oruch. He concludes that the requirement of the verse "..of sending portions to one another..." is essentially that the monos should be two, not necessarily of different kinds.

Mishloach Monos Through an Agent (Shaliach)

The Shulchon Oruch [35] states that "one is obligated to send to his fellow two monos..." Ostensibly this means that these should be sent through an agent or messenger (shaliach). Various reason have been given for this.

According to Shaalos ut'shuvos Yehudah Yaaleh [36], there is greater honour in sending through a shaliach.

The M'kor Chayim [37] writes that this publicises the miracle of Purim to a greater degree.

And the Tzitz Eliezer [38] writes (in the name of the Sefer yafeh l'leiv [39]) that one should strive to find a poor person to act as the shaliach in order to fulfil also the mitzvah of matanos l'eviyonim: since it is customary for the shluchim to be given gifts by those who receive the monos brought by them, he will receive matonos l'eviyonim.

The poskim question whether it is necessay to send the monos through a shaliach, such that, if he did not, he has not fulfilled the mitzvah of mishloach monos, or whether one may deliver them oneself.

The Shaalos uT'shuvos Binyan Tzion [40] concludes that one may deliver them personally, though in the first instance it is better to send them through a shaliach.

The Eshel Avrohom [41] (of the Gaon of Botshatsh) concludes that one may (and should) deliver them personally and the verse "and of sending portions to one another" comes to inform us of a leniency that one may even send them through a shaliach.

The Shaliach

Normally - for other mitzvos - a shaliach must possess certain qualities (be Jewish, Bar mitzvah or over, etc). May one then send monos on Purim through a child or non-Jew?

Rabbi Akiva Eiger [42] had this question and was told by the Chasam Sofer that mishloach monos is different from other mitzvos in which a person is himself obligated and which he may choose to fulfil through a shaliach. For a person to fulfil those mitzvos the shaliach must be able to be considered "like him" and possess the abovementioned qualities. Here, however, the mitzva is in the first instance to have the monos sent by a shaliach, in which case it does not matter who the shaliach is, and can be a child or even a non-Jew.

The Kedushas Levi [43] writes that when he was a child his father would send him with the mishloach monos (and not his aide) for reasons of chinuch.

To Whom are they Sent?

The verse states "and the sending of portions to one another [literally, each person to his fellow]". Accordingly, the Shaalos u'Ts'shuvos Yehudah Ya'aleh [44] questions whether a student may send monos to his teacher - if, that is, if the teacher could be called his "fellow". He concludes that inasmuch as his teacher is called his fellow in various instances (eg. with regard to the mitzva "And you shall love your fellow as yourself") so too he is his "fellow" in regard to mishloach monos.

The Remo [45] rules that a man should send to a man and a woman to a woman, not otherwise lest a man send to a widow and come into a question of kiddushin through these gifts.

The Remo [46] rules also that one should not send to a mourner during the 12 months of mourning (although the mourner himself is obligated to send monos to others, as stated in Shulchon Oruch [47]).

May we immediately merit the complete fulfillment of
the verse (Esther 8:16) "For the Jews there was light
and joy, happiness and gladness", with the coming of
Moshiach, now!

Footnotes:

  1. (Back to text) Megila 7a

  2. (Back to text) Ch. III

  3. (Back to text) Responsa Orach Chaim 196

  4. (Back to text) ibid.

  5. (Back to text) Orach Chaim 695 "ve'in hechelif"

  6. (Back to text) Vol.16 p.369

  7. (Back to text) See Yalkut Meam Loez (Esther 9:22 Laws of Shalach Monos) for additional reasons

  8. (Back to text) Brought in Maiseh Rokeach hilchos Megilla Chap 2 "vechein chayov odom"

  9. (Back to text) Orach Chayim 695:4

  10. (Back to text) ibid :4

  11. (Back to text) 695:18

  12. (Back to text) 695:9

  13. (Back to text) Aishel Avrohom 695:14

  14. (Back to text) vol.II p.537

  15. (Back to text) 695:4

  16. (Back to text) Brought in Mogen Avrohom 694:1

  17. (Back to text) 695:7

  18. (Back to text) 695

  19. (Back to text) Orach Chayim 204

  20. (Back to text) Vol I Orach Chayim 108

  21. (Back to text) 695:4

  22. (Back to text) 695:11

  23. (Back to text) See Pri Chodosh 695:4; Taz 695:4; Makor Chayim 695:4

  24. (Back to text) ibid in name of above quoted Maharil

  25. (Back to text) Megilla 7b

  26. (Back to text) Chap 11

  27. (Back to text) 694:1

  28. (Back to text) Mishbetzos Zahav 695:4

  29. (Back to text) Meorei Ohr - Od Lamoed p129

  30. (Back to text) Chidushei Agudos Megilla 7a "shadar lei"

  31. (Back to text) 695:4

  32. (Back to text) Hilchos Megilla Ch 2:15

  33. (Back to text) Vol 14:65

  34. (Back to text) Orach Chayim 695:4

  35. (Back to text) 695:4

  36. (Back to text) Ch 207

  37. (Back to text) 694:3

  38. (Back to text) Vol 9:33

  39. (Back to text) 695:19

  40. (Back to text) Ch 44

  41. (Back to text) 695

  42. (Back to text) Brought in Likutei Chover p36

  43. (Back to text) end of Kedusha Shniya

  44. (Back to text) Ch 207

  45. (Back to text) 695:4

  46. (Back to text) 696:6

  47. (Back to text) ibid.

 Drinking On Purim The Mishloach Monos Dilemma



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