Giving Mishloach Manos to Non-Frum

Photo: Deena Englard via

Ask the Rov: Is there an obligation to tell a person to say a bracha when giving them a food item?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

Is there an obligation to tell a person to say a bracha when giving them a food item?

Halacha states that one may not help (mesayei’a) another Jew do an aveira even if he is able to do it on his own.1 For this reason, Shulchan Aruch rules that one is not allowed to give food to someone who won’t recite a bracha.2

Acharonim permit selling food to non-frum people, since when the food transfers ownership and belongs to the buyer, it is no longer your responsibility. However, the prohibition seemingly remains when giving food to such a person.3

The Rama notes that in a case of tzedaka, the mitzva overrides and permits it (according to some, provided that the person doesn’t clearly refuse to make a bracha).4 This would seemingly allow mishloach manos as well. However, just giving food as a kind gesture would not be allowed.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach famously permits it for another reason. By not giving a cup of water to a guest, he will think that frum people lack basic decency and will be further distanced from Torah and mitzvos. Thus, serving him the food or drink isn’t considered to be helping him sin, but, in fact, saving him from further stumbling. Based on this, later poskim permit serving food to such a guest when the intention is to have a positive influence on him.5

Rav Shmuel Wosner advised to gently suggest for the recipient to recite the bracha, and offer to say it with them. In that case, there is a possibility that he may recite the bracha, and in a case of doubt, one may be lenient.6

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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