Purim is a holiday of bestowing value to friendship, joy, sweetness and victory, a time to contemplate and ponder on the favour and triumph that the Jews employ as a united nation even in the midst of troubles and difficulties. One of the famous and exciting ways that symbolizes this holiday is the Mishloach Manot.
What is Mishloach Manot
During Purim, Jews give a high regard and respect to friendship and relationship by giving gifts of foods or what they called as “Mishloach Manot. The tradition of “Mishloach Manot essentially means “sending of portions” and also called as Purim baskets which are traditional gifts of ready to eat food and drinks to be given out to neighbours, friends, loved ones, co-workers, colleagues and especially to the poor and even to strangers.
It is a customary for the Jews to give out Purim baskets or Mishloach Manot during Purim as stated in the Book of Esther which was instituted by Mordechai. Later it has become a “mitzvah” or commandment that should be fulfilled by every Jew during this day.
Mishloach Manot baskets normally include pastries and cookies especially the hamentashen; wine, cooked dishes, salads, snack foods and fruits.
The Laws of Mishloach Manot
Every Jewish man or woman is required to give a basket of gifts with at least two ready to eat food elements to at least one friend or neighbour. Even if a person is poor, he or she is required to fulfill this mitzvah.
The Mishloach Manot must be sent only during the daylight hours of Purim. It can also be delivered personally but others prefer it to be delivered via third party. Children are sometimes involved in this custom, knocking at every door to give Mishloach Manot. They are later rewarded with treats and sweets for their effort.
A person is not obliged to give Mishloach Manot to reciprocate what the sender has given. However, if he or she wants to do so, it is praiseworthy. But it is also good to give more on those who are in need.
In sending Mishloach Manot, one should consider to include in the basket are foods that are ready to be eaten. Raw food such as lamb, meat, and fish is not suitable to be included in the basket unless it is combined with other ready to eat foods or snacks.
The Purpose of Mishloach Manot
Mishloach Manot custom was instituted by Mordechai in the Book of Esther encouraging and promoting every Jew to send portions and gifts to one another thus, ensuring that every individual has adequate and ample supply of food for the Purim feast.
It is also done to express the love and care towards one another and to establish the friendship and divine relationship among the Jews which also directly nullify and cancel out Haman’s accusation that strife, envy, disunity, conflict and discord are among the Jews. It also paved the way to restore broken relationship and strengthen the bonds and connections among each one.