The reason behind sending Mishloach Manos:
The reason why the Sages instituted sending gifts on Purim is disputed amongst Poskim. The following are the opinions and practical ramifications.
Opinion of Manos Levi-Increase friendship:
Some Poskim rule the purpose of Mishloach Manos is in order to increase in love and friendship amongst other Jews.
Terumas Hadeshen-Purim meal
Other Poskim rule the purpose of Mishloach Manos is in order so every Jew has food to eat for the Purim meal.
There are numerous practical ramifications of this dispute, as will be explained throughout the laws brought in this chapter.
- If the receiver does not accept the gift does the giver fulfill his obligation?
- If the receiver is not home but was told he received Mishloach Manos does the giver fulfill his obligation?
- Must the receiver know the identity of the person who sent him Mishloach Manos?
- Must the giver know the identity of the receiver?
- Must a married woman give Mishloach Manos?
One is to be stringent like both reasons and opinions and hence fulfill his obligation of Mishloach Manos in a way that satisfies all the reasons.
- Who is obligated to send Mishloach Manos? Both men and women are obligated in the Mitzvah of sending Mishloach Manos. Men send to men and women to women. Married women are to be stringent to give Mishloach Manos on behalf of themselves, in addition to the Mishloach Manos sent by their husband. All family members must send their own personal Mishloach Manos and cannot rely on their parents, even if they are still being supported by them and live in their home. Children above the age of Chinuch are likewise to be educated to give Mishloach Manos. If one is in doubt as to whether the child has reached the age of Chinuch one is to be stringent. A mourner is obligated to send Mishloach Manos however he is not to send foods of festivities, such as sweets and superfluous delicacies. Rather he is to send meat [and simple foods of the like].
- When is it to be sent? Mishloach Manos must be sent on Purim during daytime. It is best to give Mishloach Manos after Shacharis in order so the blessing of Shehechiyanu counts also for this Mitzvah. One who sent Mishloach Manos on the night of Purim does not fulfill his obligation. Likewise one who sent Mishloach Manos on Motzei Purim has not fulfilled his obligation.
- How many people is one to send to? One is to send to at least one person. One who sends to more than one person is praised for doing so.
- Who should the gifts be sent to? The gifts may be sent to any Jew whether wealthy or poor. However men should only give to men and women to women. However Matanos Laevyonim may be given from a man to a woman and vice versa. One may not send gifts or Mishloach Manos to a mourner.
- What gifts is one to send? One needs to send at least two gifts of meat or other foods to one person. Both foods sent must be ready to eat without any further preparation. Sending a drink with a food is also valid. One may not send clothing or money, as only foods are considered valid gifts. Sending raw meat is invalid as it is not ready to eat. Today the custom is to send sweets as Mishloach Manos. There is no requirement that the gifts be of two different blessings. If possible each food should contain a Kezayis [by foods] or Revius [by beverages]. If this is not possible it is proper that both foods together contain a total of a Kezayis. At the very least each gift is to be worth at least one Peruta. One who does not have what to send is to switch his meal with his friend and by doing so he fulfills the obligation.
- Must one send the gifts through a messenger? Practically the custom is to send the gifts through a messenger. The custom is to appoint one’s children to deliver the Mishloach Manos and Matanos Laevyonim in order to educate them in Mitzvos.
 See Teshuvas Chasam Sofer 196; Piskeiy Teshuvos 695/9
Opinion of Rama: See Chasam Sofer ibid that learns from the Rama’s ruling [695/4: If the receiver refused to accept the gift that he fulfills his obligation.], that the Rama rules like the Manos Levi and not like the Terumos Hadeshen.
 The Manos Levi was written by Rav Shlomo Alkabetz of Sefad, in the 1500’s. He is also the acclaimed author of the Shabbos hymn of Lecha Dodi that is sung amongst all Jewry on Friday night. The Sefer Manos Levi is a commentary on the Megillah that was written in honor of his father in-law and given to him as a gift.
 Manos Levi towards end, explained in Chasam Sofer ibid; See a similar explanation in Bach 695 [brought in Halacha 2 in footnotes] regarding why in his opinion if the receiver also fulfills the Mitzvah.
 Terumos Hadeshen 111
 According to the Manos Levi he fulfills his obligation, as he has shown him friendship. According to the Terumos Hadeshen he does not fulfill his obligation as he has not received anything for his meal. [Chasam Sofer ibid]
 According to the Terumas Hadeshen he fulfills his obligation. However according to the Manos Levi he has not fulfilled his obligation, as friendship has not been formed between the giver and receiver. [Kesav Sofer 141]
 The Chasam Sofer 196 explains the question as follows: According to the Terumos Hadeshen the main reason of Mishloach Manos is to increase in food for the Purim meal, hence since married women eat by their husbands they are exempt from Mishloach Manos. However according to the reason of the Manos Levi, that its purpose is to increase friendship, also married women would be obligated.
 Kesav Sofer 141; Piskeiy Teshuvos 695/9