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


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 starting this Motzoei Shabbos.

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. In addition to the mitzvos mentioned above, thee shulchan Aruch lists learning hilchos pesach on Purim.

    Yet I would not rant against this new trend as the RambaM writes in hilchos megila 2:17 that it is better to give matanos to Evyonim than to send Manos to friends. Certainly if the Manos go across the country and arrive 2-3 business days
    before Purim.

    The trend that should be scrutinized is that of bochurim collecting and fundraising for yeshivas…that really warrants a “what shaychus? “.

    Happy Purim to all

  2. Chazal said to give 2 manos to one person. period. now after that one mishloachmanos is given, what to do with the extra money? more mishloach manos? or more tzedakah? well.the rambam rules to give more matanos l’evyonim rather than more mishloachmanos. so clearly more txedakah rather than more mishloach manos is the right way to go, hence “in lieu of another fancy themed mishloach manos, i gave tzedaka in your merit” sounds perfectly good.

    here’s the rambam(Hilchos Megilah Perek 2:17):

    “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!”

  3. A bit of clarification is apparently required to the dear writer of this article. When someone sends a card that reads “in lieu of Mishloach Manos” it does not mean “in lieu of the entire obligation of Mishloach MAnos” rather and simply it means that instead of sending Mishloach Manos to said person they have donated instead. simple as pie

  4. Do you not get enough free junk? The cards are a great idea. Your friends either do not have enough money to give mishloach manot, or instead of sending to all their friends, they are giving more tzdaka, but letting you know that they care about you.
    I would love a table full of cards than a table full of nosh, knowing that people that truly need it are getting food.
    Mi K’amcha Yisrael that can do so many mitzvot and keep shalom bayit.

  5. The point of mishloach manos, as is explained by Rishonim, is to be marbeh ahava v’achva among Klal Yisroel. Once the technical mitzvah is fulfilled, then giving gifts that accomplish are just as good. Sending the cards tells people that you thought of them. That is marbeh the ahava v’achva.

  6. I was involved in one of the year first card campaigns about fifteen-twenty years ago.

    Instead of throwing out money on extra mishloach manot, people gave a few mishloach manot and gave the rest of the funds saved yo tomchei shabbos. We made it clear that this was not instead of the ikkar mitzvah and everyone knew what this was about.

    Its a beautiful concept and one we continue to follow twenty years later.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here