Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I hate Mishloach Manos

This should come as no surprise to those who know I refuse to give gifts even to my wife. People put a great deal of time and money into giving others foodstuffs that the others generally would not have gotten of their own accord. In theory, this might make sense for those on the receiving end except that purim culture generally demands a roughly equivalent exchange. In general most everybody ends up with food they value much less than the time and money they put into it.

I think that the manner in which this mitzvah is carried out is generally attributable to women. This is not to say that men have not made their own unique contributions to Purim culture. The drunken stupor, for instance is primarily a male contribution. As is their nature, women have forced men to participate in their time consuming prettied up candy exchange. Men, on the other hand, do not demand that women join them in drunken stupor.

I am mindful of the halachik mandate and have always complied. In Purims past, I would give to my beloved brother. (With his back to me, I whip an apple at the back of his head. Just as he turns towards me in a rage, I hammer him between the eyes with a can of pop. Good times. Good times.) For the most part I have maintained my minimal compliance. This year, Rachel forced me to give mishloach manos to the boys' teachers, but other than them, I gave to none. We did, however, assist the boys in preparing some Mishloach Manos for some relatives. I worry that in the future we may join this silly game so our children do not feel shame.

8 comments:

miriam said...

1 - when I was little our 'custom' was to give substantial, useful foods to our three nearby observant falmilies, and cards to a whole bunch of people saying "instead of giving you mishloach manot, we gave money to X charity fund." I remember being embarassed at my family's failure to produce saran-wrapped plates of goodies for everyone on Purim, but I think the lesson was worthwhile, so don't give in!

I also participated in a neat shaloch-manos-minimizer this year: a mysterious mordekhai (or, elusive esther, for the ladies of drisha), aka secret santa set-up. rather than everyone bringing everyone else plates of junk that just end up being piled on communal tables of hefker, everyone picked one person out of a hat and brought them something, thus fulfilling the mitsvah, not leaving people out, and not ending up with too much junk. brilliant.

2 - i have to agree with you here; women are the worst. (though i would probably then go on some rant about a society that intentionally trains them to care about stupid things, etc...)

Mr. HaLevi said...

Hey Everyone,

Rebecca just accepted the PhD offer at University of Chicago. So we return to Hyde Park for the next three years or so. Wanted to make it an announcement on the main page, but a certain Zev has still not added me to your list. See (some of) you in the summer.

David

Jose said...

do people really get upset if you don't give out thousands of MMs? No wonder I don't have very many friends...

It's times like this that I am glad that I can be lazy and call it minimalism.

btw, Miriam, I believe i owe you a phonecall...

Anonymous said...

Characterizing the idea of "hidur mitzva" in pejorative and insulting terms shows a supreme lack of understanding not only of purim but of generosity of spirit as well. I do not feel stupid for taking the time and resources to express my appreciation of good friends and relatives in an appropriate manner. I take the time and effort to put together a thoughtful package that tells my friends that I care.
For those who fear receiving an overabundance of junk, you can do what I do the day after Purim. I put together a large basket of purim items and give them to low income individuals who can really use the items and enjoy them.
What I heard in your various blogs and comments is a generation of young adults who are so wrapped up in themselves that even the most common elements of graciousness and decency in a civilized society can be overlooked if one adopts just the rights sneering tone of superiority.

Yehuda said...

I agree with anonymous -- except for the last paragraph which sounded considerably more like a "sneering tone of superiority" than anything I've read on this blog.

m. greenfield said...

From Shmuli's Mother: (1) I don't consider myself stupid for performing a mitzvah in a generous and gracious manner. In fact, I take great pride in my open handedness and not only materail generosity but generosity of spirit as well. I would never label someone who doesn't understand the concept of open hearted generosity: buth of maaterial goods and spririt "stupid." (2)Misholach Monos is not a "barter" progarm, I don't send my package and calculate or measure what others send to me, what I do and send is not dependent on anyone else; (3) I wish you had told me that you wer so admantly against the whole concept of gifts-I will certainly keep it in mind. (3) Adults are responsible for what they do and don't do; wives don't "force"husbands to do things; husbands don't force wives to do things. In a mutually satisfying relationship we don things that please ours pouses because we love them and we want them to feel valued;

m. greenfield said...

M. Greenield: Sorry for the typos. I am not very good at this blogging or typing for that mother. As a lawyer and cook however, I am much more thorough.

m. greenfield said...

oops: matter not mother.