Mishloach Manot/Shaloch Manos-Sending Gifts
After being rescued from Haman’s attempt to destroy the Jews, scripture records that the Jews agreed “to observe…with the sending of food gifts, each to his/her friend” (Esther 9:22).
The threat of Haman reminded the Jews that indeed they were a separate but unified people, and each individual’s rejoicing over being saved was shared with neighbors and friends by sending gift baskets.
Every Jew is obligated to give at least one Mishloach Manot gift containing at lest two different types of immediately edible food items.
- If a family wishes to send Mishloach Manot as a family unit, they should make sure to send enough packages so that each adult (over the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah) fulfills the mitzvah.
- The package must contain two different foods (or drink) e.g. fruit & candy, grapejuice & chocolate, cookies & ice cream
- The food in the package should be ready-to-eat and not require preparation (i.e.: do not send a raw steak – but salami is okay).
A popular item to include in Mishloach Manot is Hamantashen (click to recipe), which are special triangle shaped cookies filled with poppyseeds, prune butter, jelly, chocolate, and a variety of other treats and delights.
There are several theories as to the source and history of hamantashen:
- The triangle shape of the hamantashen are said to represent a type of three-cornered hat worn by Haman. They are also sometimes called “Haman’s ears,” also because of their triangular shape.
- The word may be derived from the Yiddish moon tashen, which mean “poppy pockets.”
- The question may be asked, “Why is the Purim treat named after the archenemy of the Jewish people?” By eating a piece of Haman, one may be figuratively “wiping out the memory of Amalek.”
Traditionally, hamantashen were made with poppy seed or prune filling. Today, however, people use a wide variety of fillings such as chocolate, strawberry or apricot jam, cherry pie filling, prunes, etc.
Mishloach Manot suggestions
Mishloach Manot are a fun way to get the entire family involved in the holiday. Having children prepare baskets or baggies is a great way to keep the little hands busy while baking the hamantashen.
Many people like to “theme” their Mishloach Manot.
For the more adventurous, and expensive:
Flower Pots: Using regular earthenware flower pots as the basket, fill each pot with chocolate crumb cake (if possible, bake in pot) to represent soil. Tightly roll a green fruit roll-up and stick into the center of the cake for a flower stem. To the top, carefully arrange a red fruit roll-up into a rose. This project creates a beautiful display of 2 separate types of foods.
For those who want to keep it simple, and are on a budget:
Prisoners: Dress in black and white striped clothing (or in a solid color and pin paper stripes) and deliver bread (the hamotzee blessing) and water (the she’ha’kol blessing).
Mishloach Manot are meant to bring joy, happiness and unity amongst Jews. It is not meant to be a contest of who can create the largest, most expensive or most extravagant gift arrangements. Many feel that it is better to give smaller packages to more people. It is also better to spend more on gifts to the poor than on fancy Mishloach Manot.