Details are often determinative. They offer the key to deciphering the meaning of complex actions, sometimes contrary to the surface appearances.
One of the Purim rituals is mishlo’ach manos, sending food — generally a care package — to a friend. Unlike other religious rites, this one merits no blessing. Why not? Commentators struggle to explain the various commandments for which we recite no blessing and this one is no different. One explanation in particular strikes my interest.
A famous inquiry into the natural of this ritual distinguishes between two rationales offered to explain it’s intent. The Terumas Ha-Deshen suggests that by sending a friend food yo are ensuring he can eat his festive Purim meal. However, according to the Manos Ha-Levi, your goal is to spread peace, love and friendship with you gift. The Chasam Sofer (Responsa 1:196) highlights this dispute to explain a ruling of the Rema (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 795:4) that you fulfill your obligation even if the receipt refuses to accept the gift. While you have not added to his meal, you have increased peace by offering him a gift.
R. Yechiel Ya’akov Weinberg (Seridei Eish 1:61 in new edition) relates this to a debate between the philosophers and the Sages which the Rambam discusses in his Shemonah Perakim (ch. 6). According to the philosophers, someone who does not want to sin is greater than someone who successfully struggles to refrain from sinning. The Sages, however, considered someone who overcomes his urge to sin as greater than someone who has no desire. The Rambam says that both are correct.
Regarding “reason-based” mitzvos, acts that we would have intuited even absent a command, one who does not desire to violate them is greater than someone who overcomes his urge. However, those who overcome their urge for “Authority-based” mitzvos, those actions that would be entirely permissible if not for the biblical command, are greater than those with no such desire.
According to the Manos Ha-Levi, mishlo’ach manos is a “reason-based” mitzvah. It is a form of increasing peace and friendship. We do not recite blessings on mitzvos of this nature, suggests R. Weinberg, because we perform them optimally without the command. On such mitzvos, one who performs them without a command are greater than one who performs under obligation. Emphasizing the command in a blessing is certainly inappropriate. R. Weinberg suggests that this is also the reason we do not recite a blessing on charitable giving or respecting parents.