- Question: [Sunday, 12th Adar 5783]
I would like to give an anonymous Mishloach Manos gift basket to a family who I know is a need of food for the Purim Seuda, but for personal reasons I prefer that they do not know that it is from me. Can I do so and am I Yotzei Mishloach Manos in this manner?
In order to fulfill your mitzvah of Mishloach Manos you should certainly write your identity on the Mishloach Manos gift basket in order so it create friendship between you and them which is one of the purposes of the Mitzvah. If, however, you are also distributing Mishloach Manos to other people in which your identity is known to them, then since you are ready fulfill your obligation with the gift you are giving them, then you do not have to write your identity on the above Mishloach Manos you would like to remain anonymous for. In worst case scenario, since they are need, as you state, it will count as Matanos Laevyonim instead of Mishloach Manos.
Explanation: The reason why the Sages instituted Mishloach Manos on Purim is disputed amongst Poskim. Some Poskim [Manos Levi] rule the purpose of Mishloach Manos is in order to increase in love and friendship amongst other Jews. Other Poskim [Terumas Hadeshen] rule the purpose of Mishloach Manos is in order so every Jew has food to eat for the Purim meal. There are numerous Halachic ramifications between these two opinions, and one of them is regarding if the receiver must know the identity of the person who sent him Mishloach Manos. According to the Terumas Hadeshen he fulfills his obligation even if the identity of the person who sent him Mishloach Manos is not known by the receiver, as the main thing is that he has food to eat for the meal. However according to the Manos Levi he has not fulfilled his obligation, as friendship has not been formed between the giver and receiver. Practically, the Poskim conclude that the receiver must know the identity of the person who sent him Mishloach Manos in order to be Yotzei Mishloach Manos, as otherwise friendship has not been formed between the giver and receiver and thus the purpose of Mishloach Manos according to the Manos Levi has not been fulfilled. Hence, it is advisable for the sender to place his family name on the package of Mishloach Manos. However, since one is only required to give one Mishloach Manos to a single person, then there’s no issue with giving an anonymous Mishloach Manos to one person and giving an identifiable one to another, and if the person who received the anonymous Mishloach Manos is a pauper, then by doing someone fulfills the mitzvah of Matanos Laevyonim which does not require any identification of the giver for its fulfillment.
Sources: Kesav Sofer 141; See regarding the dispute as to the reason behind Mishloach Manos: Terumos Hadeshen 111; Manos Levi towards end; Teshuvas Chasam Sofer 196; Piskeiy Teshuvos 695:9; See regarding Matanos Laevyonim that one fulfills the Mitzvah with food and not just money: Mateh Yehuda 694; P”M 694 M”Z 1; Yifei Lev 2 694:17; Ben Ish Chaiy Titzaveh 15; M”B 694:2; Kaf Hachaim 694:6;