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Monday, March 09, 2009

PIP: Purim is Pashut

The following is an idea being forwarded by a Passaic Rav to help get mishloach manot under control. I'm posting it below:

The Short Vort
Good Morning!

Today is Friday the 3rd of Adar 5679 and February 27, 2009
Candle Lighting 5:27
Erev Shabbos Kollel- Mincha 4:30


Baruch Hashem the movement has begun.
Purim is Simple has taken hold of the community like wild fire.

The idea that you do not have to send dozens and dozens of Shaloch Manos complete with themes and decorations has become a reality!

Many, many people have written to me expressing their excitement about this new idea with regard to Shaloch Manos.

In order to help facilitate the program I need you. If you are really sick and tired about all the money and time and effort that goes into buying, organizing, preparing and distributing all of the unneeded Shaloch Manos; not to mention the actual unnecessary consumption of pounds and pounds of processed sugary white flour; then join PIP.

Here’s how it works, just prepare one or two Shaloch Manos for your neighbors and that’s it!

Now I realize that there are some exceptions to this. There are those people who you feel you just ‘must’ give to; teachers, Moros, Rebbeim, and the person you would like to make peace with.
However, all the dozens of people who do not need nor should they expect Shaloch Manos from you, just eliminate.

With all of the money you will save from buying unwanted nosh, you will be able to give more Mattanos L’Evyonim!

On Purim day all of us who ‘sign’ up for this program will hang on our doors a sign with the three letters: PIP.
When people come do the door, and they ask, “What is PIP?” explain to them what PIP stands for and explain that PIP is a program designed to eliminate unwanted and unneeded Shaloch Manos, and increase the amount of money which will go to helping the poor.

Think about all the extra time you will gain!
You will be able to spend more time with your family and less time packaging and preparing.
Think of all the stress in the house which will be eliminated. No more attempting to put together last minute Shaloch Manos; no more struggling to create a theme which will be impressive and out do the neighbor.

Most of all think of all the Chesed you are doing.

Think about those people who will benefit from the added money you will give to them.

Think about all those people who have been struggling for years to keep up with the Goldbergs by preparing and distributing dozens and dozens of Shaloch Manos they could not afford however, they felt obligated to do.

Although I generally keep responses private, I am going to make an exception and quote (with permission and anonymously) from one woman who wrote the following about the program:

G-d bless, R. Eisenman,I am SO happy you posted this. We have always tried to limit our Mishloach Manos in favor of Mattanos L’Evyonim, but it is hard to stand against the tide. There is the creeping tendency to keep up with the Schwartzes, and my Mishloach Manos list has been growing. There is also the pressure to make sure your Mishloach Manos are "good enough." I will be thrilled if the focus does shift. I am so glad you, at least, are speaking from the pulpit to redirect our priorities. If we all cut back, those who can't afford to give to their usual list will, IY"H, feel less embarrassed.

This is one example among many!

PIPis here and PIPis the way to GO!!!!

Join PIP now- forward this email to all of your friends and tell them that they should join PIPas well.

By all joining together and eliminating unneeded calories and junk food we will be increasing much needed Tzedokah money which can and will make a difference!!!

One more thing, even the one or two Shaloch Manos that you are sending- remember PIP. Meaning, no need to go ‘all out’ on them either!

Remember- by applying PIP in general to Purim,and to the one or two Shaloch Manos you do send out, you helping those people who really need our help!

Join today; please send me an email with the three letters PIP- to indicate that bli neder you are with us.

PIP signs will be posted in the lobby of the Shul.

Post your PIP sign on your front door already today!

Together we can make a difference this Purim!!!

Remember: PIP is the way to olam haba!!!


The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

I am an advocate of this approach, in general, and so we give a donation to a tzedakah and send cards to most people. We reserve our mishloach manos for a few people who are not likely to receive from others.

But I have one question, which is not tongue-in-cheek: In communities like Passaic, where stores can, presumably, count on hundreds of people sending out dozens of baskets each, will this cause great hardship for the stores, and, potentially, for the jobs of people who depend on them?

On the one hand, I don't like the idea of an economy built on, and relying on, excess. (The same comment can apply in our day school and summer camp structure.)

On the other hand, that's the economy that currently exists, and I'm not sure "Tough Love" is a good solution.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Rabbi's Husband. This is a nice idea, but it needs to be implemented over time, with community awareness the first step, and with the involvement of the local retailers who will definitely be impacted financially when such emails are sent out only after they've made their Purim orders from their suppliers.

It can be done, but there are financial consequences to the stores/manufacturers that should be addressed first.

SephardiLady said...

I don't think an entire industry will go broke overnight because ***one*** Rabbi (may he be blessed for taking on the fight) advocates a more modest approach to mishloach manot.

I'm sure that not even every member of his shul is ready to jump on board. We have always been modest with our mishloach manot packages (e.g. we don't buy pre-packaged goods or baked goods, we choose lunch bags over cute boxes), but I'm not quite ready to cut back to a more minimal level-i.e. two foods to one recipient.

Purim brings us incredibly warm, fuzzy feelings when someone unexpected stops by, when the kids find a special snack. We get an incredible kick by surprising a number of widowers with a mishloach manot packages!

I'm not sure there needs to be any single formula in helping people regain control over another area of their time, sanity, and finances. The guiding factor should be MODESTY (and I'm not referring to sleeve lengths). If PIP works to regain sanity, chazak v'baruch. If the Rebbetizen's Husband's formula works, yashar koach.

Nothing will happen overnight (although a recession is bound to speed things along). Regardless of Purim, business owners should be thinking about how to EXPAND their businesses beyond the daled amot of the frum community.

Anonymous said...

No, an industry won't go broke overnight, in this case. In others, they have, like with the Satmar wedding takanos.

In this case, retailers will take a huge hit, if this works as anticipated. That shouldn't be acceptable.

I'm not talking about the $300 Shalach Manos baskets that were always an obscene indulgence. I'm talking about the bulk purchases of cookies, wafers, pretzels, and even candy, that were not unreasonable to make assuming people would be cutting down this year.

Why should these dealers have to absorb a loss?

My point is, these nice ideas have real consequences to people trying to earn parnassah. It'd be nice if people gave some thought to them when proposing takanos etc. Unfortunately, I can't recall a single instance of a Rav who proposed some form of cutback or takanos addressing this. Can you?

Anonymous said...

For the past several years I have tried to cut down my number of packages, this year even cutting my kids down to one each. I try to make each package nice, including foods that could be useful for the seuda if desired. This year each has a package of cake or rugelach, a nice amount of fruit, and a small grape juice bottle that was added at the last minute when we found half a case in the basement. I'm using packaged baked goods to avoid even the possibility of waste should someone not want to eat something I've home baked. I think it might be cheaper to make 50 packages of juice boxes and Laffy Taffys, but this is more meaningful and less wasteful to me. I also applaud Rabbi Eisenman. May I suggest that if a business is predicated on people buying packaged goodies to give to people who don't need them, especially in recessionary times, they should rethink their business model.

Anonymous said...

When I say I've cut down my number of packages, I mean that I am allowing one per family member. That's it. That's the mitzvah.

ProfK said...

If only the problem was that people are spending too much personal time creating their own shalach monos. As the comments show, more people are purchasing ready made than are making their own. The cost of some of these packages is the sky is the limit, and even the "cheap" ones aren't cheap. Yes, there is a problem that some people have mega-lists of those they send to, a problem that is exacerbated by allowing kids to send to everyone in their class.

Regards the Rabbi's comment "You will be able to spend more time with your family and less time packaging and preparing.
Think of all the stress in the house which will be eliminated. No more attempting to put together last minute Shaloch Manos; no more struggling to create a theme which will be impressive and out do the neighbor," in our house putting together shalach monos IS a family activity, one that everyone looks forward to. Do we have a "theme"? Yes, but it truly has nothing to do with outdoing the neighbors--most of whom are sending ready made shalach monos that is not themed. We enjoy doing the yearly poem and the baking time we spend together, passing along to the kids my moms special Purim recipes. What last minute shalach monos? Make a list and stick to it.

And why should the rebbis and moros be a "yes" for shalach monos? Only when my son was in high school and had a very special rebbi that he was close to did he include the rebbi in the few shalach monos he was alloted.

More communities might also consider what ours does. The day after Purim our Ezras Achim begins collecting at a few drop off homes all the stuff that came in shalach monos that parents don't want or don't need so much of. It is then distributed to various children's homes, senior centers and homeless centers where the inhabitants view a sweet treat as delightful and unexpected.

SephardiLady said...

ProfK-Also a family activity in our home. However, I imagine that where 'perfection' is demanded, the activity becomes less of a family activity and more of a stress. Perhaps the Rabbi is addressing this with his comments.

Anonymous said...

ProfK, I'm the anonymous who commented just above you, and I see there is another issue here. There are people who enjoy the whole mishloach manos process and use their creativity in this way, in choosing a theme and making artistic packages. There's nothing wrong with that. I think what the rabbi is trying to stem is the competition and desire to outdo. There's no need for a person who's not creative or just can't get his or her act together to feel pressured to do something because "everyone" is doing it.

I was even wondering what we'll say to those who come to our door and don't get a package in return, but I'm thinking they'll simply get a heartfelt "Thank you."

Ateres said...

I think the problem is not (usually) the amount of shalach manos sent, but rather the price of the shalach manos being sent.

I personally like the idea of giving shalach manos to a (reasonable) number of people. It helps people remember and stay in touch with others and is a nice way to keep on good terms with neighbors. It is also a good way to show appreciation to your child's teacher, who probably doesn't get paid much for his or her efforts.

However, I think expensive shalach manos should be stopped. Most years I spend two dollars or less per shalach manos given. This year I am spending about $1.20. I bought all of the ingredients in bulk at BJ's, so that each item in my shalach manos costs $.40 or less.

I understand that wealthier people may wish to spend more, or that people may want to spend more on individual shalach manos to honor special people in their lives. However, there is really no excuse for $50 shalach manos baskets, even when purchased from a tzedaka organization.

I personally don't like the shalach manos cards, however, for a number of reasons:

1. Some people may mistakenly think that this counts as shalach manos and therefore not fulfill the mitzvah.

2. I am happy that you are giving tzedakah, but you don't need to tell me about it. Give tzedakah in private to the organiztion of your choice.

3. The idea of shalach manos is to encourage friendship and good feeling amongst yidden and food has an unique ability to do that.

Anonymous said...

I'm seeing another dichotomy here. I prefer to give fewer packages with more food in it so it could be used for the seuda if desired. Ateres prefers to give smaller packages to fewer people, spreading her good cheer further. Why should one way be considered better than another? I think the problem is when people feel pressured by outside expectations. That is what shouldn't be happening.

Ateres said...

"I think the problem is when people feel pressured by outside expectations. That is what shouldn't be happening."

I think that is the main point.

Mike S. said...

Does it really take a Rav with PIP cards to make people aware that they don't have to break their backs on shalach monos? Have we really reached the point where no one can apply sense on their own?

besides, assembling Shalach monos is a family activity in my house.

Ariella said...

Mike S, you are right; we should be able to have sense to do these things on our own. But just like the extravagance that kicks in with simchas, people feel bound by a certain standard when it appears to be the norm. I try to place limits myself, and our mishloach manos our neither elaborate nor bought prepared. But still the children want to give to more than one or two friends. I placed a limit at 5 each, but I think they made more packages than that. One daughter even buys additional candy with her own money so that she will have enough to give over my limit.

rachel in israel said...

post purim experience. This is our first purim in our yishiv in israel. as a background, most of the families fall under the "poor" category. but the israel definition of poor, not the american. My husband and I LOVED it. We made the mistake of preparing baked goods for about 30 mishloach manot. They consisted of one cupcake and junk food recycled from other mishloach manot. We didn't even manage to give more than 8. The vast majority of people give 3 or 4. Most of what we got is a home made item and almost no junk at all. It is completly acceptable to not reciprocate a mishloach manot. no themes, no ribbons, no baskets, people gave the stuff in a plate with saran wrap. People's energy went into the seuda and the purim activities. There was a person colecting money for matanot laevionim, who got a lot of money. There was also a food drive, they had many boxes full of food to distribute.
Now that purim is over, I threw out the really bad junk food, set up the not so bad junk food to give away at work, and froze the leftover baked goods to eat later in the month. We've never finish purim with so little junk food and with such a wonderful feeling that people got it right.

Anonymous said...

I didn't need someone to tell me to tone it down. Common sense did. We made 6 baskets per family member for 36 plus a lot left over. Total cost $75 and nothing at all shloch. No pas yisroel ripoff cookies no disgusting candy no Jewish Diabetes Training Grape Juice. A lot less time and effort. Its time for Jews to stop and think for a change.

Manya Shochet said...

There are, nebech plenty of poor people, plenty of forgotten people, plenty of people nudged aside from the mainstream of life by illness, etc. Mishloach manot should be for them, not for fattening the already too fat.

Shmendrik said...

"Remember: PIP is the way to olam haba!!!"

Wow, that sounds over the top even for puritanical do-gooders.