Monday, February 22, 2010


Sure, said our rabbi in his sermon this past Shabbat (Sabbath), you fulfil the minimum halachic requirement for mishloach manot by giving just two different types of food to two different persons of your gender. But what about hiddur mitzvah, the concept of fulfilling a commandment as beautifully as possible? All of you people who give bags full of pretzels, instead of the gorgeous baskets given in other neighborhoods, said he, making a face . . .

Well excuse me!

(A) A good chunk of our congregation is retired on a fixed income.

(B) Too few of our congregants give mishloach manot as it is. Are you going out of your way to discourage them from performing this mitzvah (commandment)?

When a person gives you a present, you don't complain publicly that it's not expensive enough and/or not in a nice enough package. And you certainly don't insult people from the bima for fulfilling a mitzvah.

If our mishloach manot isn't good enough for you, maybe we just won't give you a mishloach manot package at all this Purim.


Anonymous jdub said...

That's offensive. In fact, R. Billet (Woodmere) and I believe R. Shachter both said to reduce mishloach manot and increase matanot l'evyonim (gifts to the poor). They specifically advised people to reduce their mishloach manot to the bare minimum necessary to fulfill the mitzvah and increase their tzedakah giving. Your rabbi is a piece of work.

Tue Feb 23, 07:52:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

I agree with jdub - far better to increase gifts to the poor than to increase either the number or the quality of mishloach manot given.

For a good description of what mishloach manot are supposed to be, Malka Esther posted a good link on Facebook.

On a lighter note, see this photo of Purim in Meah Sharim.

Tue Feb 23, 10:01:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

JDub and Larry, reducing one's mishloach manot and increasing one's matanot la-evyonim(gifts to the poor on Purim) and tzedakah (charity) contributions makes sense in this rotten economy, with so many people "between jobs" or underemployed.

Tue Feb 23, 11:42:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh - how offensive! OK, so it's lovely to receive a fantastic quality, well-presented gift, on whatever occasion. But, if it comes from the heart and is given with the best of intentions, who cares how it is wrapped and if it cost 1 penny or 1 million?

Gifts to the poor - a huge thumbs up.


Wed Feb 24, 07:03:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

To be fair to my rabbi, I've always been convinced that the reason why his social skills are atypically poor for a person of his age is least partially that he has a disability that he was never taught to work around. I think it's a real shame that no one either noticed or dealt with his learning disabilities when he was young. It's not even clear to what extent, if any, the rabbi is aware that his social skills problems are a symptom of a disability.

That said, it's pretty discouraging that our rabbi, of all people, comes up short in the derech eretz (common courtesy) department. I, for one, will be very happy to see him leave when his contract expires later this year.

Wed Feb 24, 11:04:00 AM 2010  
Anonymous Miami Al said...


That's ivory tower Judaism. In the real world, we're supposed to curtail support of the poor and give more to the Day Schools. The wealthy doctors and lawyers in town need help educating their children, poor Jews that can't afford to feed their families will just have to wait until the economy improves.
And "toning down Mishloach Manot" is really just code for, "the Sisterhood basket is increasing in price, and they are spending less on the contents, so the Shul can have more funds at its disposal," you're not permitted to tone down what you give, that's just food for gossip... and being financially responsible is assur (prohibited) because it leads others to speak Lashon Hara (evil speech). :)

Chag Purim Sameach!

Wed Feb 24, 03:27:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

You need more hamantashen, Al--your comment has a lot of "bite." :)

Wed Feb 24, 03:35:00 PM 2010  

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