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Money Making Faux-Mishloash Manot

18 comments

Grabbing the moneyThe president of my shul called me this evening, furious that I did not participate in the shul’s mishloach manot program. “Reb Telz” he says “Why are you not on the list?  We are packing the bags, reviewing the mailed-in sheets, you are not participating! What’s wrong?”

Our shul mails out a 3-page checklist of all the shul members to everyone in the shul. We then check off the people we want to give mishloach manot to. It costs a few bucks per person. The shul makes and delivers bags of crappy shaloch monos — usually cheap items from Trader Joe’s and some pesachdik item from Wegmans, packed in St. Patrick Day bags from the Christmas Tree Shop, and filled with pastel colored Easter grass. Oh how Jewish. Since popular people get many givers, the shul pockets the extra money and makes a good take from the whole deal.  Of course there’s the “reciprocity” box which means you’ll automatically give someone if they checked you on their list. So you get the extra surprise after purim when you find out that you were way more popular than you thought — and it costs you.

Here’s what I told the President:

These faux-manot neither fulfill the letter of the law, nor the spirit. They are not halachically considered mishloach manot since they are not gifts I give to my neighbor. Thus shul is not my shaliach. They are just assuming the appearance of this act, it’s like a show, a play.  The whole idea behind mishloach manot was to build a sense of community. It’s not that you need my kugel and I need your tzimmis. It’s that we need to be the kind of community that can share food with each other. But we are not.

We don’t share food. Half the people don’t eat out at other people’s houses after the fiasco last year with the so-called “trief lemonade” brand that has a triangle-K hechsher; that our Rabbi does not “recommend.”  It’s lemonade!!!! how can you treif that? it had a hechsher from an orthodox rabbi!  It’s a squeezed lemon with sugar and water! But no, someone put the lemonade in a mishloach manot he gave out and everyone went nuts about it since it did not have the approved hechsher on it. Now no one eats at that person’s house anymore because of his shalach monos.  And no one eats at people who talk to him for fear they think treif lemonade is OK to drink. This is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen.

The spirit of the miztvah is that we share our food, but the reality is that your faux-manot program just redistributes groceries.  You go to the store and bag some Paskesz candy, an orange, and a grape juice bottle. How’s that building a community? All you are doing is simulating a mitzvah and making money doing it.  This is all about the money. You want a donation, just ask the members for a donation. But I’m not falling for the shul’s cheap money-making scheme.  I checked it out on snopes and it’s a hoax. We still have to give real shalach monos anyways to fulfill the mitzvah.  Oh, and your orange doesn’t have a hechsher on it, by the way.

His response:  “Telz, you can forget about getting an aliyah until Simchas Torah.” As if that’s something I didn’t already expect.

So you might get shalach monos from me, or you might not. Deal with it. It’s purim and I freaking love my community. I’ll spare you the Easter grass and Rakusen crackers, and I’ll mail in a donation to the shul since they have to put up with my crap.

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  • Crowin’ Cock

    This scheme is just a matter of convenience, people don’t actually expect to fulfill the mitzvah using this method. The actual mitzvah is to give at least 2 food items to 2 people, that’s it.

    We have the same thing here, except that it’s city wide, with thousands of names on the list. The profits go to Tomchei Sabbos, which feeds the poor all year round.

    • Anonymous

      Uh 2 items to 1 person.

      • The Mrs.

        To food items each to two different people.

        • Alter Cocker

          This is incorrect. The mitzvah is two food items (that do not require preparation) to ONE person. You do not have to give multiple gifts.

  • Anonymous

    Best line: His response: ”Telz, you can forget about getting an aliyah until Simchas Torah.” LOL!

  • Telz Angel

    The mrs liked “I checked it out on snopes and it’s a hoax.”

  • Izzy

    Ehhh, it’s just a money maker for our Shul and I relented this year and gave two shaloch monos for the Rabbi and a friend…at $20 a pop for some TJs nasherai…kinda a joke and I agree with you 100%.

  • http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com SJ

    ”Telz, you can forget about getting an aliyah until Simchas Torah.

    Amazing. What a philosophical, ethical, well thought out, erudite, highly moral response to Telz’s contentions coming from a synagogue president.

    • Telz Angel

      Uhm, remember, this is a satire site.

  • http://thoughtsofasj.blogspot.com SJ

    I forgot to mention that the synagogue president is highly mature and shows loads of self control that halacha instills in its followers.

    • Leukos

      It is possible that the actual response was exaggerated, or deliberately misquoted, in keeping with the Purim atmosphere. On Purim, we here at frumsatire.net like to depart from our usual serious posts and digress to humorous topics. Your post, SJ, also seems satirical, and with a kernel of truth; but, unlike the posts of the esteemed writers on this site (such as Telz Angel), is not particularly funny. Ah freilichin peerim.

  • http://blogspot.rwhitesf.com Bob White

    Telz: Did you make the donation to get back into the good graces of the powers that be? If you did, did it make a difference? I don’t know if it’s because the bulk of my experiences have been in Conservative shuls or because I live on the West Coast, but the shul presidents I’ve known (and I’ve been one) have this kind of power (only) in their dreams.

    • Telz Angel

      The crimes I committed to my community are so heinous that I dare say I’ll never be forgiven, neither in this world nor in the world to come. I live with the mark of Cain, (I would say it is the cross I bear, but that would be going just a bit too far). For this reason I cannot reveal my true identity and live as a lamedvovnick, a hidden tzadik, masked by the garb of articulate writing.

      Ok, maybe I exaggerate a bit.

      • http://blogspot.rwhitesf.com Bob White

        You also didn’t answer the question. But with the benefit of context I now realize that this is. But the frightening part is that it also rings true (or you are just a very short story writer).

        • Telz Angel

          All my posts contain some element of fact and some of fiction. In this case, there are three true recent stories that inspired this post. As it relates to the donation to get back in the good graces of the shul, yes that part is based on a true situation of two families who did the same thing that made certain elements of the shul upset. One family paid their way back to good graces.

  • The Mrs.

    Some certain unnamed awesome neighborhood in some awesome unnamed borough offers this so that the more times a family is chosen, the larger their gift gets. The St. Patrick’s Day bag becomes a basket, and the Kedem becomes some snooty-but-worth-it wine…you get the idea. They get huge.

    • Telz Angel

      I think I just barfed a little bit of my seudah.
      Wow, that’s just sick. I was going to write a post Purim post about something similar. Maybe I’ll have time tomorrow to be inspired by this and report on the largest manot ever.

  • Ali G. – Booyahkasha!

    Yo- I am here with my main man, Telz Angel, Booyahkasha- Respect!
    Well it sounds like you did got hacked by the school bully, if ya know what me means. Yo need to feed the mexicans oderwise,dey gonna getcha in da bend on meer hood on da streets. Be well clever like the Levites be dat can skirt any problemo through der lieing teef. It’s well important dat you heed dese words mah man! Know what me means? feed dah gay pig’s daddy.
    Yo RESPECT!