[Avodah] What is the reason for the mitzvah of giving Mishloach Manos on Purim?

Prof. L. Levine llevine at stevens.edu
Fri Feb 19 06:26:43 PST 2021

>From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. What is the reason for the mitzvah of giving Mishloach Manos on Purim?

A. This is the subject of a well-known dispute. Manos Halevi (Megillas Esther 9:16-17) explains that the Purim story took place because Haman maligned the Jews, saying that they engage in personal feuds and do not get along with one another. This is alluded to in the verse ‘yeshno am echad mefuzar umeforad bein ha’amim’, there is one nation which is dispersed and scattered among the nations, i.e., lacking unity. To demonstrate the falsehood of this libelous charge, Mordechai and Esther instituted that Mishloach Manos should be given to one’s friends and acquaintances, to foster camaraderie and good will among the Jews. This demonstrates that we do not engage in personal feuds; on the contrary, we engage in acts of friendship, by gifting our food to others. Terumas HaDeshen (1:111), however, explains that the purpose of giving one’s acquaintances Mishloach Manos is to ensure that poor people enjoy a festive and lavish Seudas Purim. Although most people are not poor and therefore do not need food given to them for their Seudah, Chazal instituted that Misloach Manos be given to wealthy people as well, so as not to embarrass the poor (Teshuvos Chasam Sofer OC 196).

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