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Since the Jews didn’t get massacred on Purim, we celebrate by giving gift baskets to our friends and neighbors, known as Mishloach Manot. The rabbis of the time found it very important to celebrate Jewish victories with wicker.
As history has it, many of the first Mishloach Manot were met with skepticism, as the Jews of the time were scared the gift baskets contained bombs. They were still worried about Haman's planned massacre, and gift baskets can be quite crafty. Being that none of the baskets were wired, the tradition of giving Mishloach Manot without detonation devices is now a Mitzvah.
The gift basket must include at least two types of foods that your friends will have to throw out before Pesach. And that summarizes the history and Halachot of Mishloach Manot.
Over the years I have received many Mishloach Manot. And there is one rule that all Jews follow; when giving Mishloach Manot be sure that it contains something you don't want. Here are a few items that should be in your gift baskets.
Give Lemon Wafers
Nobody likes lemon wafers. They come stale. That is how they are made. Thus, making it the perfect item to place in your gift basket. Not just inedible, it is also hard to clean for Pesach.
If you purchased a mixed package, pull out the chocolate wafers (people like those) and tinfoil the lemon wafers into your Mishloach Manot.
Stuff Still in Your Pantry
Do not give away food you will eat. That is a waste. Think about your Mishloach Manot like a food drive collection bin for poor people. You have tuna you haven’t used in four years, throw it in there. Give beans, rice, anything that is taking up room in your cabinets and is past expiration.
Canned vegetables is optimal. A can of peas and carrots is perfect. Nobody likes that.
People like chocolate hamentashen. This is why it is proper etiquette to give poppy seed hamentashen. People don’t like poppy seed hamentashen. People like chocolate, so you make poppy seed hamentashen. It looks like chocolate hamentashen, and then whamo, a surprise right in their basket. It always puts a smile on the face of the recipient when they get something they don’t want.
Make sure that whatever you give the people is something that they do not allow their children to eat. Taffy is perfect; bad for the metabolism and the teeth.
Nobody wants leftover Halloween candy you found on sale at the grocery, which again makes sweets optimal for Mishloach Manot. As I always say: It's never the wrong time to shop at the Christmas Tree Shops.
Take Out The Good Stuff
If using Mishloach Manot from other people, take out any decent bottles of wine. Sometimes the Feigenblums make a mistake and give something decent, along with the poppy seed. Thus, always check the basket before reMishloaching.
This is also the reason why everybody thinks the Feigenblums are cheap. Not fair to them, but you should enjoy the wine. It is a mitzvah to be happy.
And many people have asked me why the Feigenblums made out their Mishloach Manot card to me, when it was to be given to them. For that, I blame the Feigenblums.
Put in Stuff You Don’t Want
I cannot reiterate this enough. If you cannot return it to the store, that is Mishloach Manot. Don’t waste money on your friends. It is the thought that counts, and you care about the world. Hence, you recycle, and you let your friends pay for dinner when you go out with them.
Go Green: Leftovers from two Shabbats ago is perfect for the gift basket (or gift bin). By that time, the choolante should be hard enough to not mess up the Hamentashen. Files that you can’t find the heart to throw out. Perfect for Mishloach Manot. Taxes are good, as tax season is coming. Old pictures. Expired passport photos. It doesn’t have to just be food. Anything you need to throw in the bin can also be Mishloach Manot.
The idea is to get rid of stuff. The less you have to throw out for Pesach, the better. Mishloach Manot is a time to start cleaning out your home of stuff you don't want. Which means the Feigenblum's Mishloach Manot.
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They wanted to clean the silver on the Torah. Instead, they Polished it.
You get it? People from Poland are Polish. They should‘ve polished the silver. Nobody knows what it means. Maybe put a Polish person on it. If you're Polish, we do not mean to offend you. At the Kibbitzer, we are sure that many Polish know how to polish very well.
The Jerusalem Shofar carrying bag and water bottle. Perfect for when you need to blow the Shofar on a Tiyul. (saying something about a Shofar on a hike was where our creativity on this joke came to a halt)