Thursday, March 20, 2008

more on mishloach manos and shlichus

Why doesn’t connecting the machlokes Rambam and Tur mentioned in the previous post to mishloach manos make much sense? If you were reading this blog a year ago you might remember a question of the Dvar Avraham. People seem to get hung up on the chumra of sending mishloach manos via shliach, so all over the neighborhood you see little kids running around delivering on behalf of their parents. But, asks the Dvar Avraham, the halacha is that a katan cannot serve as a shliach!

The D.A. says a beautiful chiddush that helps resolve many issues in shlichus. There are two ideas in shlichus that get confused: 1) shlucho shel adam k’moso; 2) plain vanilla shlichus. Sometimes halacha simply looks at whether a desired result is accomplished, in which case plain vanilla shlichus suffices; sometimes halacha is concerned with whether I performed a specific action, in which case the rule of shlucho shel adam k’moso needs to be invoked. For example, if I appoint a shliach to shecht a korban for me, the only requirement to be met is that the animal be properly slaughtered - who does the slaughtering is irrelevant. However, if I designate a shliach to be mekadesh a woman to be my wife, not only must the end-result of the woman receiving a ring be accomplished, but I must be the one giving it. A shliach who delivers the ring must be shlucho k’moso, acting in my place.

When it comes to mishloach manos all that is important is that the recipient receive the manos; how does the delivery and how it gets there is irrelevant. A katan cannot serve as a shliach when we need to invoke shlucho k’moso, but when our only concern is producing a result, plain vanilla shlichus, there is no exclusion on a katan.

The whole dispute between the Rambam and the Tur is in a case of divorce where it is important to establish shlucho k’moso because only the husband and no other person may divorce his wife. However, with respect to mishloach manos, where all that is necessary is to produce the end result of the recipient getting manos, even the Rambam would agree that the shliach is not an actual surrogate stand-in for the sender.

1 comment:

  1. When you say if you designate a shiach to be mekadesh a woman to be your wife that the ring must be given by you and that the shliach delivering it is simply acting in your place, do you mean that you must be the owner of the ring and you hand it to she shliach to hand to the woman? Or do you mean that the shliach can own the ring and consider it as though it is yours?