During the day of Purim --Sunday March 20th-- we send two presents to one or more friends. These presents consist of food --ideally food to be used during the Purim banquet. It is customary to include at least two different types of foods. For example, a drink and some baked product. The intention of this Mitzvah is to promote harmony (shalom) and friendship and strengthen our unity. In certain circumstances, Mishloach Manot could be a very discreet way to send food to those who need it, but would feel very uncomfortable to ask or receive charity from others.
"Presents to needy people". Originally, these presents consisted of food, given to those who could not afford otherwise, to celebrate and enjoy a nice Purim banquet. The custom is to give two gifts, or as it is usually done today, its monetary equivalent to two or more poor people. If our means are limited, our Rabbis indicated that we should be more generous in giving to the poor and needy than in spending for our own Purim banquet. They said: "There is no greater happiness than to lift up the hearts and spirits of the poor, orphans and widows".
Sunday March 20th in the afternoon, we participate in a festival meal, Seudat Purim. In this banquet we sing songs and express our happiness and thanks to HaShem Almighty for our deliverance.
Purim and your unique role in life, by Aish:
Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024