MAILBAG: The Jones’s Are Trying to Keep Up With You Too


You know what the dumbest part of our modern society is? People thinking that other people will care about them if only we kept up with the times. The reality is far more complex, and trying to keep up with the fads and fashions of the day won’t get us anywhere.

This bothers me specifically at this time of year, because we are entering Purim season. While Purim is supposed to be a happy and joyous day, the sad reality is that it more often than not is a stress-fest. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it is because we are so caught up with keeping our personal bar as high as everyone else.

Take mishloach manos, for instance. Since Chanukah, my wife and her friends have been discussing what they will give out, how to make it, if it’s worth it to just buy them, how many people have to be given, etc. Hours and hours of discussing something that shouldn’t matter at all, outside of being mekayem the actual mitzvah of mishloach manos.

Unfortunately, there’s a huge pressure surrounding mishloach manos. The packages themselves have to be “just right”: they can’t be too cheap or you’ll wind up looking like a nerd, they have to be ostentatious but quite enough that everyone knows you didn’t make them yourself, among many, many other things.

It’s all ridiculous. The only reason this is happening is because everyone else is busy with it too. How can I not concern myself with mishloach manos when everyone else is putting so much effort into it? It’s understandable from a psychological perspective, but it’s also twisted. It’s the equivalent of a hamster running on its exercise wheel – it’s not going anywhere but it still does it out of rote.

Look, we can all use a break. Inflation has hit all of us – except perhaps the wealthiest – hard. We don’t need to be spending all this money, all this time, and devoting all this stress to mishloach manos. You’re doing it to keep up with the Jones’s. But I have a secret for you: the Jones’s are doing it to keep up with you.

All we need is a few Nachshon’s to say enough is enough and move on from this unnecessary stressor. Our lives are busy enough; why devote your precious time to making mishloach manos to keep up with the mishloach manos of your friend who herself made mishloach manos to keep up with you?

Yaakov D – Far Rockaway

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.


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  1. Correct. People do things because of what others will think of them. The truth is that others are not thinking of them. They are too busy thinking of what you will think of them.

  2. Be a Nachson. I know many, many neighbors here in Israel that give a nice homemade mishloach manos to one neighbor (or even better, a local family they don’t know well), and for everyone else they just say thank you. We also put in for the mishloach manos from the neighborhood/shul and for their teachers, so the social element is covered. This is totally accepted here and nothing more is needed from us as adults. We started doing this a few years ago, and it’s such a stress reliever.

    We also moved the few large mishlochei manos we give out as a family from themed nosh to legit food for the seudah. Nobody needs a ton of nosh, and everyone enjoys tasting one another’s specialty items. The kids still give out pekelach to their friends, but this isn’t expensive or stressful. As adults, it’s perfectly acceptable to be adults and not give into unnecessary pressure.

    Be a Nachshon. Your neighbors will thank you.

  3. Be happy that your wife is discussing this with her friends instead of speaking loshon hara. It’s such a nice kosher way to connect with friends – discussing mishloach manos.

  4. I came up with a very simple solution for the shalach manos problem in my home. My wife knows that for however much she spends on shalach manos, we give 5x to tzedakah, and the tzedakah money comes out of what we have saved for vacation.

  5. I second Yochy

    “ Since Chanukah, my wife and her friends have been discussing what they will give out, how to make it…”
    Maybe start with you and your eishes chayil. If it’s all about attitude and doing what’s right, & not about keeping up with the Jones’s, it has to start with your own family.
    Maybe speak to your Rav to speak to the ladies about it if you feel it’s the ladies’ issue in your community

  6. I have been doing cheap bought mishloach monos for years already (parents get something heimish for the Purim seudah). Couldn’t care less what others think or do with it (recycle?). I spend more money on tipping my children’s teachers & rebbeim. I do not give a hoot about what others think of my mishloach monos. I do not spend months deciding what I’m purchasing either. Do what’s right for YOU! You & your family/friends/community/associates will be much happier! Good luck!

  7. There are plenty of “Nachshons” already doing so.
    The fact that you are writing this letter shows me that the effect is hyper localized if there is a real effect at all.

  8. Mishloach manos could be creative. Being creative doesn’t cost a lot of money and there isn’t anything wrong with busying yourself with doing a מצוה. By all means, if you are more comfortable giving a prune hamentash and an apple on a paper plate, do it and don’t worry about what everyone else does or thinks.

  9. This is the same issue with the expensive yeshivish week vacations. It’s all one big trend: increase in materialistic pursuit.

  10. Mishloach Manos is a beautiful mitzvah and, if done right, has the potential to truly be Marbeh Rey’us and create unity among Yiddin. However, as the writer suggests, perhaps we are investing too much time and effort in selecting the food items and wrapping that will form our Mishloach Manos.

    How about if we take the creativity that goes into deciding what food items to include and redirect that creativity to select the people we should be sending to who could use a chizuk to know that others are thinking of them and want to share in their challenges.

    How beautiful it would be if women would discuss among themselves how to cheer up almanos, single and divorced people still searching for their bashert, children who have R”L lost a parent or a sibling, people facing financial difficulties or even an unpopular family wondering if anyone cares about them. Energy and time invested in this type of Mishloach Manos has the opportunity to reap dividends both in Olam HaZeh as well as the Keren Hakayemes L’olam Habah.

    Let’s continue the effort to enhance Mishloach Manos but redirect it in a direction that will be Marbeh Rey’us amongst those truly looking for friendship.

  11. I feel for you. B”H my wife and I agreed on something simple, and we do the same thing every Purim. My wife bakes a bunch of challas and I get a case of light red wine and we give a loaf and bottle for Mishloach Manos. Simple Cellophane wrapping with a simple festive label. It’s not too cheap, not too expensive, good for the Purim Seudah. For her class we make a bunch of Pekalach; for the rav we give a (little more) fancier bottle and bigger challah.

  12. I love when people give me expensive Mishloach Manos. I graciously give back baked goods baked by my wife with and nice red apple 🍎 on a paperplate. The more the merrier.

  13. Stop being an unterhetzer and leave your wife alone. You wish to live a monkish life without any hiddur? Go ahead, be a chnyuk. But don’t drag your wife down with you. In the meantime, thank her for putting up with your nonsense.

  14. If someone sent you shalach Manos and you think they were trying to ruin your life, STOP being friends with them. Because either you are right and therefore you deserve better friends, or you are wrong and therefore they deserve better friends.

  15. To Rivvy: What makes you think that the discussions about mishloach manos does not include some loshon hora? I can work loshon hora into any discussion.

    Shimon Noodel’s suggestion is the best.

  16. What I don’t like about mishloach manos is all the junk food given out. I’d rather have a nice homemade kugel or challah, don’t need fancy, don’t want soda and candy. I give something home made every year, doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I hope it is enjoyed by those I give it to.

  17. “All we need is a few Nachshon’s to say enough is enough and move on from this unnecessary stressor”
    I didn’t know I’m a Nachshon!! My wife and I have been giving out M”M for a couple of years at a price of about $4 a piece… and I don’t think I give out more then 10
    Last year was mini marshmallow’s and baby carrots to represent a snowman

  18. Oh, the wisdom of this post! So many nuanced points and previously unrevealed issues. Such wise discernment and insightful-yet-simple commentary. YWN, you should be proud that such gems are to be found on your website!

    Where does one start? How about the headline, and its relevance (or not) to the discussion in the article. Shalach Manos “mania” is less keeping up with the Goldbergs than it is getting carried away with worrying that you’ll make someone feel bad if you gave last year and you don’t give this year, or they gave you and you don’t reciprocate. And that’s the Mitzvah of shalach manos, isn’t it, to care about people and make them happy? The designing and perfection of the product is just a “girl thing”, which most of us men have to live with (maybe in Cleveland or Baltimore they haven’t discovered style and class the way New Yorkers and Angelinos have, but if they have seen it enough, the bug gets them), but not a keep-up-with-the-Jones’ thing. I think that’s fairly obvious. So if the author perceives this problem of “too much” in his own home, and realizes perhaps that it is bigger than his own family, he might start a CR chat about it, but not present it as if it’s a major chisaron in Klal Yisroel.

    And to relate this problem to “needing a few Nachshons” borders on heresy, aside from it being a rather futile idea. As someone already noted, how about starting with your own home.

    A rather foolish article, in summation. Rivvy had it right. It’s not much of a problem, and it’s better this than other things they may be doing.

    I particularly like joseph l’s idea of taking extra Tzedaka out of the vacation budget. Publicizing that concept perhaps warrants the entire silly article and comments.

    A freilich’n Purim to all! And don’t expect shalach manos from me just because you sent me last year!

  19. A day after Pirim you see all the cleaning Goytes carrying shopping bags of unused Mishloach Munes from the homes they working . No one wants to freeze anything before Pesach so they give them to them.
    Maybe if you send a Wine or Challah or Lokshen or Potato kugel it might get eaten up.
    Most packages wind up Bal Tashchis…

  20. If your self-esteem is dictated by what other people think maybe you need to open up a mussar sefer. You will be a SLAVE to other people’s opinions forever. Better to spend a minimum on Meshoach Manos and invest in Matonos L’Ayonim! Don’t tell anybody. If they say or think anything negative that is on them not you. If you want to make a hiddur that is great as well. Never take away another person’s enjoyment, especially a simcha shel mitzvah. I hate it when people stay sober all year waiting for Purim and out of the woodwork the “killjoys” and wet blankets” start saying not to drink on the one day when you can. Their commandment is that one may not enjoy anything except marror on Pesach.

  21. Unfortunately, there’s a huge pressure surrounding mishloach manos…

    Azoy…HUGE pressure….so much stress…..
    Sorry, but only in a parallel universe would any rational eshes chayil feel “huge” pressure in relation to mishloach manos. Between worries about protecting the kids from terrorists, shatnez lurking in bedroom closet, your 12 yo daughter becoming a victim of the shidduch crisis and rumors of shmurah matzoh shortages due to the war in Ukraine, MMD (mishloach manos dysfunction) will not ever register as one of the top ten stress factors.

  22. You are a family, a couple, correct? Discuss it with your wife.
    And this doesn’t start with mishloach manos. It applies to every area in life. Your car, house, kids clothing, for G-D’s sake their briefcase and Lulu lemon (did I get that right?) bag they must have. B’h (and I do know I truly need to thank Hashem for this, as for everything!) my wife and kids don’t have these pressures. My kids don’t – because my wife does not. My wife- I guess I’m lucky she was brought up living simply.
    It really is a shame, so much tzaar and hardship is brought upon us- BY OURSELVES. Hatzlacha!

  23. And the costumes have to match the Mishloach Manos theme as well
    And the mishigas doesn’t end there
    The Parents also have to dress up
    And then throw a beautiful big party with lots of expensive booze and invite in all the groups and write huge checks with money you don’t have so that your children won’t be embarrassed

  24. Wow

    You have no taste and meaning of your own to make a nice mishloach manos to make the person feel cared for and happy that you’re delivering them a package on Purim. It’s literally one of the mitzvos of the day! Why is this your concern about inflation and what people think and trends? Just understand that everyone is just trying to make another feel good and give them a nice presentable package. If you can’t afford something for sure get cheaper things but there is always a way to make it nice and creative and presentable. If you can’t come up with an idea chatGPT it. I’m a big fan on their advice. Good luck. Focus on the fact you’re making someone happy on Purim it will change how drunk you feel that day! 🍷 🍷 🍷