For the first four years of Ella’s life, we delivered many mishloach manot baskets, but did not receive a single one. We don’t live in a very observant community, and many of our friends are either not Jewish or non-practicing (or rely on me for all of their Jewish practice.) It didn’t really bother me, but I did worry that if this trend continued, it would start to bother my children.
Fortunately, once Ella started day school last year, we started to develop at least a small community of Jewishly involved friends. And the mishloach manot began to trickle in. It’s not as if we need more hamentashen. (We need them “like a hole in the head,” as my grandmother would say.) But the delivery of handmade treats at your doorstep, especially when the delivery is performed by small hands, is actually an incredibly touching gesture. We probably don’t have more or better friends than we did a few years ago, but you know what? It feels like we do.
In this spirit, I highly recommend The Purim Surprise, a lovely, lovely Purim book about mishloach manot by Lesley Simpson (author of The Shabbat Box). It came out in 2003, but mysteriously I only read it for the first time on Friday. (i think the cover art might have turned me off – don’t make the same mistake I did….) She captures perfectly how this mitzvah, and perhaps mitzvot in general, connect us to one another.
PS – What did you put in your baskets? We made hamentashen, kettle corn, and oatmeal cookies. And no plastic wrap or baggies!