There are so many great memories that come to my mind when I think of the holiday of Purim.
There’s, of course, getting to dress up in costume at synagogue, the many Purim carnival games we’ve all gotten to experience over the years, furiously shaking a gragger (noise maker) as the name Haman is mentioned, and so many fun iterations of the retelling of the Purim story in often musical-themed Purim-Spiels.
Amongst the fun-spirited traditions, there is also the preparing and giving of Mishloach Manot. The Hebrew phrase taken from the Megillah, literally translates to, “sending portions to one another.”
While we may see it every year as a fun gift bag for hamantaschen and other goodies, it is actually a commanded duty – the Jewish community is inclined to give friends, family, and strangers, a package of food or gifts to help celebrate Purim.
This all leads to the question, why is it so important that we are commanded to gift away a glorified gift bag each year?
We can find one answer to that question in the appropriately named article, “Why do Jews send Mishloach Manot on Purim?” written by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld.
“[An] explanation for the mitzvah appears in the Terumat Ha-Deshen (sec. 111) of Rabbi Israel Isserlein (15th century, Vienna), who writes: “It appears that the reason for this mitzvah is so that everyone can fulfill the mitzvah of eating a proper, festive meal on Purim.”
In other words, the mitzvah intends to guarantee that rich and poor alike are provided for at the Purim meal.”
Rabbi Herzfeld continues by comparing the giving of Mishloach Manot with another Purim tradition that is specifically to send gifts to the less fortunate.
Opining, that perhaps, Mishloach Manot came from this tradition, “due to concern that the poor would feel ashamed that only they did not have sufficient means to provide for the Purim meal, the Rabbis decreed that not only the poor, but all people should send and receive gifts on the holiday of Purim.”
It is my belief that this practice has led us into what modern day tzedakah and philanthropy can, and should look like. A tenant of Richmond Jewish Foundation is to ensure a sustained and vibrant Jewish community for generations to come.
We have an obligation to not only help the vulnerable and less fortunate, but to also ensure that celebrating Jewish life is achievable no matter how you practice.
Whether it’s setting up a Donor Advised Fund, creating a Charitable Remainder Trust, or establishing a permanent endowment fund, our team at Richmond Jewish Foundation is excited to help you meet your philanthropic goals today, and tomorrow, to safeguard all of our traditions, keeping the community strong for L’Dor V’Dor, from generation to generation.
To get in touch with RJF, please feel free to call Jesse Feld at (804) 545-8656, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.