Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Sunday, 20 March 2011

Purim Thought

Mishloach manos is one of the basic mitzvos of Purim.  Although there is no specific way to deliver the items, usually people either do it themselves or send a friend to do it for them.  It is said that Rav Avika Eiger, zt"l, once mentioned to his son-in-law the Chasam Sofer, zt"l that he was uncertain if a non-Jew could deliver mishloach manos or not.  After all, we have a rule that a shaliach is like the person himself and therefore has to have the same legal status.  A non-Jew would not fit into that category and therefore cannot be a shaliach for a Jew.
But does mishloach manos even require a shaliach in the first place?  It would seem not but if that's the case, why isn't it called Netinas manos
The Chasam Sofer apparently answered that since a shaliach is not a legal requirement, then anyone can deliver the items for you, hence a non-Jew could be a shaliachi in this case.  But that leaves the second question, the one about the name of the mitzvah unanswered.
However, another authority (I don't remember his name, I don't have my sefer in front of me right now) points out that Chazal hold that a person who receives a gift from another often has trouble subsequently looking that person in the face.  As a result, it is much more honourable for a person to receive the gift indirectly, hence the mishloach instead of netinas.  After all, if the important part of the sending of gifts is to increase achdus then doing it in a sensitive fashion is far more likely to achieve that goal.

3 comments:

Richie said...

I'm not sure if this post is meant to be Purim Torah or not, but in the event that it isn't:

Giving a gift, ala tzedakah, is obviously better indirectly for fear of future embarrassment. However, given that the raison d'etre of mishloach manot is to foster greater social bonds between Jews, I find it hard to believe that a "friendly" gift (rather than a handout) is better delivered by an intermediary.

It would be unwarranted to derive halachic principles from the colloquial term "mishloach manot", rather than netinat manot. The content is directly taken from the phrasing in the megillah -- "u'mishloach manot ish le'rayehu".

Garnel Ironheart said...

Right, but why does the megillah use the word "mishloach" instead of "netinah" is the original question.

Richie said...

The phrasing of "mishloach manot" in the rhythm of the pasuk is much better. The words are alliterative and roll off the tongue easily.

Also, the root of "netinah" is used in the immediately following phrase, "u'matanot la'evyonim". It's poor form in writing, Biblical composition included, to reuse the same root within the same sentence.

Despite the later usage of shlichut for a specific halachic definition, its application here is probably an anachronism.