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Sh’lakh Ma-what?

Each year, our religious school sponsors a Purim Goody Bags sale in which you and I send friends and neighbors sh’lakh manot, something tasty and fun for Purim. Delivering sh’lakh manot is an ancient Jewish tradition that traces its origins to the Book of Esther. After Mordekhai and Esther rescued the Jews of Shushan from the evil clutches of cruel Haman (boo!), a day of celebration was declared (Purim!) which was to include feasting (hamentashen!), merry-making (purimspiel!), and sending gifts (yep, sh’lakh manot) to friends and family and to those in need (source: Esther 9:22).

You may know them by their Ashkenazic name, sh’lakh manos, or perhaps their more formal moniker, mishloakh manot. Whatever they’re called, it’s a really old Jewish custom. In fact, giving sh’lakh manot is a Jewish law! So our ancient rabbis wanted to know how to get it right and would argue over what precisely qualifies. Can sh’lakh manot be food? What kinds of food? Can they be toys? One rabbi sent his father an essay he’d written as his sh’lakh manot.

What’s clear is that sh’lakh manot are a basic component of our Purim observance. We send gifts – to family, to friends, and to the needy – in grateful acknowledgment of the blessings our ancestors in Shushan received, and the blessings that you and I receive.

So now you know. 

Sat, June 25 2022 26 Sivan 5782