Mishloach Manos

The Megilah states that one of the obligations of Purim is to send Manos (portions) to a friend. Reasons for the mitzvah;

The Possuk states "sending portions from man to his friend". The mitzvah therefore includes sending two portions to one person. This is the minimum requirement, however the Shulchan Oruch (695:4) rules that the more people a person sends to, the greater the mitzvah.

According to some posskim the mitzvah is fulfilled only if the mishloach manos are sent via a messenger. Other posskim disagree.

The mitzvah is to send the mishloach manos on the day of Purim, not at night.
Both men and women are obligated to send Mishloach Manos. A man should send to a man and a woman to a woman, not vice versa. A married woman, should not rely on what her husband sends, rather she should also send.
A portion must be something ready to be eaten, without needing any more preparations (e.g. cooking).
According to the Chayei Odom, a portion must be an item which the recipient appreciates. Other posskim maintain that a portion with the value of a prutah is sufficient. However they should not be less than the size if a k’zayis (an olive).

According to some opinions, a drink is not considered a portion. One should therefore send at least two solid foods.
The custom is that a recipient returns Mishloach Manos to the sender.

The K’sav Sofer rules that person does not fulfill the mitzvah if he sends the manos anonymously. Likewise a person does not fulfill the mitzvah if the recipient will first discover the mishloach manos after Purim. (In the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein.)

The posskim differ whether or not a person fulfills his obligation, if the recipient refuses to accept the mishloach manos.

According to some posskim the mitzvah can be fulfilled only if the mishloach manos are sent and received on Purim. Accordingly one does not fulfill the mitzvah by sending mishloach manos by mail before Purim, even if they arrive on Purim.

Aveilus: An avel (mourner) even during the shiva is also obligated to send mishloach manos. He should however send plain foods, not items which will cause happiness such as sweets.

One should not send manos to a mourner. This includes one who lost a parent within twelve months or an immediate relative within thirty days.

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