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Q&A from the Bais HaVaad Halacha Hotline
March 2, 2023
Q May mishlo’ach manos be shipped with UPS before Purim if it will arrive on Purim?
A One may certainly fulfill the mitzvah through a bona fide shliach—a Jew that is a bar da’as—because shlucho shel adam kemoso (a person’s proxy is like him). It is even preferable to do so, as Shu”t Binyan Zion (44), quoted in the Mishnah Brurah (695:18), contends that mishlo’ach manos might require a shliach, as that is meaning of mishlo’ach. Still, the consensus of contemporary poskim is that one certainly fulfills the mitzvah even if he handed over the manos directly.
But can one fulfill the obligation through a non-Jewish agent like a UPS courier?
We find three views on the purpose of mishlo’ach manos: a) The Trumas Hadeshen says it is to ensure that everyone has food for the seudah. b) The Manos Halevi and the Chida say it is to increase friendship and achdus. c) The Aruch Hashulchan and others say it is to increase happiness by giving to others. According to the first two views, as long as the recipient receives the package on Purim, the sender fulfills the mitzvah. But according to the third, the sender must do his act of giving on Purim, so he must either appoint a halachic shliach—even in advance, for delivery on Purim—or ship it with a courier on Purim for same-day delivery. The general consensus of contemporary poskim seems to follow the first two views, so they permit sending mishlo’ach manos via a non-Jew before Purim if it will reach the recipient on Purim.