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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos relating to Parshas Vayikra

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.


Mordechai and Esther, with the approval of the Rabbis of the time, introduced a mitzvas asei (1) which obligates every person to send two different kinds of foods to one friend on Purim. Two basic reasons are given for this mitzvah:

  1. There are impoverished people who are too embarrassed to collect tzedakah for themselves and will therefore not have food for the Seudas Purim. By establishing a system whereby everyone receives packages of food on Purim, the rabbis ensured that even the most reticent of individuals will have food for the Purim seudah (2).

  2. Sending food to a friend or an acquaintance is an expression of goodwill and fraternity. On Purim we wish to instill and perpetuate these feelings (3).
The goals of both of these reasons must be met in order to fulfill the mitzvah properly. For instance: One who sends clothing for mishloach manos does not fulfill the mitzvah (4) since he did nothing for his friend's Purim meal. Similarly, one who sends mishloach manos anonymously does not fulfill the mitzvah (5) since no friendship or goodwill is generated between him and the recipient.

Nowadays, we are witness to a marked proliferation of mishloach manos. Although mishloach manos is a relatively easy mitzvah to fulfill, if one is unaware of the halachos, he could send dozens of mishloach manos and still not properly fulfill the mitzvah. In addition, a clear distinction must be drawn between the minimum requirements for fulfilling the mitzvah, and the hiddur mitzvah, the more exacting form of fulfilling the mitzvah. There are also some little known halachos which are important for those who wish to fulfill the mitzvah according to the views of all the poskim. We have thus split the halachos into two parts--the first part discusses the basic rules, and the second part discusses chumros and hiddurim for those who wish to embellish upon this once-a-year mitzvah.


Who should send:

Men and women are personally obligated in this mitzvah (6). Married women are obligated in their own right and are not exempted by their husband's mishloach manos (7). It is sufficient, however, for husband and wife to send mishloach manos together, as if it is coming from both of them--and the recipient recognizing that it is coming from both (8).

Some poskim hold that children over 13--even those who are being supported by their parents--are obligated (9), while others exempt them since they do not own anything in their own right (10).

Parents should be mechanech their children in the mitzvah of mishloach manos as they do with every mitzvah (11).

What to send:

Any combination of two kinds of food (12), or one food and one drink (13), or two kinds of drink (14), is sufficient. Two pieces of the same food are considered as one food (15). Some poskim (16) specify that the foods be ready to eat and require no further cooking, while other poskim (17) allow even uncooked foods to be sent.

To whom to send:

To any Jewish (18) adult (19), wealthy or poor, with whom you are acquainted or to whom you are related. Although men should send to men only and women to women only (20), families may send to each other (21).

Mishloach manos should not be sent to a mourner (22) during the year of mourning for his parents, or during the thirty days of mourning for other relatives (23). A mourner who receives mishloach manos need not return them, and the sender fulfills his mitzvah by sending those mishloach manos (24). It is permitted for a woman to send to the wife of a mourner (25).

A mourner must send Mishloach manos--even if he is in the middle of shivah. A mourner should refrain from sending "items of simchah" (items that elicit laughter and merriment) (26).

When to send:

Mishloach Manos should be sent and received on Purim day (27). If it is received at night or on the days before or after Purim, the sender does not fulfill the mitzvah (28). If it is sent before Purim but is received on Purim, some poskim hold that the mitzvah is fulfilled (29) while others hold that it is not (30).

How to send:

The sender himself may deliver the mishloach manos directly to the recipient (31). Some poskim (32) hold that it is preferable to send it via a messenger. The messenger may be a minor or a non-Jew (33). When sending with a messenger, it is proper to verify that the mishloach manos was indeed delivered (34), especially if the messenger is a minor or a non-Jew (35).


The following is a list of hiddurim that, if possible, one should follow for at least one set of mishloach manos so that he fulfills the mitzvah in accordance to all views. (36) (1)

What to send:

One should send foods which will be eaten at the Seudas Purim (37).

A wealthy person who sends inexpensive items of food does not fulfill the mitzvah. In order for his mishloach manos to be considered as an expression of friendship, its cost must be relative to the sender's wealth (38).

One who sends inexpensive food items to a wealthy person does not fulfill the mitzvah, since such items are meaningless and unappreciated by him (39).

The minimum amount of mishloach manos is a meal's worth, about 6-7 fl. oz. of food (40). Other poskim require that one send no less of a meal [in volume] than one would normally serve a guest (41).

It is better to send two kinds of food than one food and one drink (42) or two kinds of drink (43).

Two different kinds of fruit are considered as one food (44).

Two different kinds of wine, e.g., red wine and white wine, are considered as one kind of drink (45).

It is better not to send an item which the sender himself would not eat because of kashruth considerations (46).

To whom to send:

One who sends mishloach manos as acknowledgment of a favor rendered to the sender does not fulfill the mitzvah (47).

One who sends mishloach manos to his enemy (48) or to a complete stranger (49) does not fulfill the mitzvah.

It is questionable if mishloach manos can be sent to one who is too drunk to be aware of having received them (50).

When to send:

The mishloach manos should be sent as early as possible, but not before the reading of the megillah on Purim morning (51).

One who is traveling and will not be home must still send mishloach manos and cannot rely on a messenger or his family in another city to fulfill his obligation (52). If, however, he specifically appoints another person to send it for him, that is sufficient (53).

How to send:

The two kinds of food or drink should not be placed in one utensil (plate, bowl or bag), since the utensil combines them into one kind (54).


1 The poskim (see Achiezer 3:73) refer to this mitzvah as a mitzvah midivrei kabbalah, a rabbinical mitzvah which is incorporated into the written text (Esther 9:22). Accordingly, we do not say safek derbanan l'kulah in regard to the mitzvos of Purim (Tzafnas Pa'aneich to Rambam Megillah 1:1).

2 Terumas Hadeshen 111.

3 R' Shlomo Alkavatz in Manos Halevi quoted in Shu"t Chasam Sofer OC 196.

4 Mishnah Berurah 695:20.

5 Ksav Sofer OC 141.

6 Rama OC 695:4.

7 Magen Avraham 695:12; Chayei Adam 155:33; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:4; Mishnah Berurah 695:25; Aruch Hashulchan 695:18.

8 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (written responum quoted in Halichos Bas Yisroel pg. 303 and oral ruling quoted in Halichos Baisa pg. 354). Accordingly, the amount sent should be double the minimun amout of mishloach manos.

9 Aruch Hashulchan 694:2 (concerning matanos levyonim); Orchos Chaim 695:2 quoting Meorei Ohr.

10 Shu"t Kinyan Torah 1:132. It follows that if the children have their own possessions, then they are obligated like any adult.

11 Pri Megadim 695:14; Aishel Avrohom 695; Kaf Hachayim 695:57. This means that parents should give their children food or money so that they can fulfill the mitzvah--Chanoch L'naar pg. 66. See, however, Kinyan Torah 1:132 who holds that it is sufficient chinuch to allow the children to deliver the mishloach manos.

12 OC 695:4.

13 Mishnah Berurah 695:20.

14 Aruch Hashulchan 695:14.

15 Aruch Hashulchan 695:14. See Tzitz Eliezer 14:65; 15:31.

16 Magen Avraham 695:11; Maasei Rav 249; Chayei Adam 135:31; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:2; Aruch Hashulchan 695:15;

17 Pri Chodosh OC 695; Haamek Shailah 67:9; Shevet Sofer OC 23; Yechave Daas 6:45. Mishnah Berurah 695:20 quotes both views without rendering a decision

18 Shu"t Bais Yitzchok (YD 2:142).

19 Aruch Hashulchan 695:18 rules that one fulfills the mitzvah by sending to a minor, but many poskim (Yaavetz 1:121, Yad Sofer 24; Kaf Hachayim 694:12; Birur Halachah pg. 405) rule that one does not fulfill the mitzvah in that manner.

20 Rama 695:4.

21 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (oral ruling quoted in Halichos Baisa pg. 354).

22 Unless he is the rav of the city--Divrei Malkiel 5:237.

23 Rama OC 696:6.

24 Ksav Sofer OC 139.

25 Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (oral ruling quoted in Pnei Boruch pg. 322).

26 Mishnah Berurah 696:18.

27 Rama 695:4.

28 Aruch Hashulchan 695:16.

29 Be'er Heitev 695:7 quoting Yad Aharon; Shu"t Beis Sheorim OC 381; Chelkas Yaakov 1:102.

30 Aruch Hashulchan 695:17; Levushei Mordechai OC 108.

31 Yehuda Yaaleh OC 207; Aishel Avrohom 695; Kaf Hachayim 695:41; Tzitz Eliezer 9:33.

32 Mekor Chayim 694; Binyan Tzion 44 quoted by Mishnah Berurah 695:18; Chasam Sofer (Gitin 22b).

33 Chasam Sofer (Gitin 22b); R' Shlomo Kluger (Sefer Hachayim 695); Daas Torah 695:4; Chelkas Yaakov 1:103.

34 Achiezer 3:73.

35 Chelkas Yaakov 1:104.

36 See footnote 1.

37 Since the main purpose of mishloach manos is for everyone to have a proper Purim meal--see Massei Rav 249.

38 Yad Dovid Megillah 7a; Sdei Chemed Purim 6.

39 Biur Halachah 695:4 based on Ritva and Chayei Adam.

40 Shaarei Teshuvah 694:1 quoting Zera Yaakov 11 concerning matanos l'evyonim. See Zera Yaakov who rules the same way concerning mishloach manos.

41 Rosh Yosef Megillah 7b; Eishel Avrohom (Butchatch); Aruch Hashulchan 695:15.

42 Nitei Gavriel pg. 106 quoting Afrksata D'anya 25 and Bais Av 103.

43 Bais Yitzchok Megillah 7b.

44 Rosh Yosef Megillah 7a.

45 Orchos Chaim 69 quoting Tikkun Moshe.

46 See Chochmas Shlomo 695:4 and Mahram Shik OC 341.

47 Tzfnas Pa'aneich (Megillah pg. 38b).

48 Orchos Chaim 695:4 quoted in Nitei Gavriel pg. 109.

49 Harav M. Feinstein (oral ruling quoted in Oholei Yeshurun pg. 58).

50 See Nitei Gavriel pg. 114.

51 Based on Mishnah Berurah 692:1 who says that the Shehechiyanu recited at the daytime reading of the megillah applies to mishloach manos as well. Additionally, there is a view that holds that one who sends mishloach manos before the megillah doe not fulfill his obligation altogether (Nitei Gavriel pg. 125 quoting Tikkun Moshe pg. 92).

52 Aruch Hashulchan 696:3; Mikroei Kodesh 39.

53 Aruch Hashulchan 695:16.

54 Ben Ish Chai Tetzaveh 16 and in Torah L'shmah 189.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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