[Post I'm reading: Judging Mother at Everyone Needs Therapy]
During every year’s run-up to Purim I come across a standard halachic myth: That the foods used for mishloach manot (aka shalach manos) must be of separate halachic ‘species’, such that one would need to recite two separate blessings before eating them.
There are requirements for the foods, of course, most notably that they should be foods which are immediately edible, and ideally (in terms of the spirit of the law) they should be suitable for one’s Purim Seudah, but there is no requirement to have foods which require two berachos. Proof – the Rambam (Hilchos Megilah 2:15) and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 695:4) specify an option of using two pieces of meat as mishloach manot! And yet, generations of children have come home from school with this idea. Where does it come from?
It reminds me of the myth that people with tattoos may not be buried in Jewish cemeteries. I once heard it suggested that this came from mothers whose sons were going off to military service; they wanted to intimidate their children, so that they wouldn’t get tattoos. But there is no basis for this, either.
Or the myth that we don’t eat giraffe because we don’t know on what spot to schecht it. As has been noted by others, shechitah is certainly not the problem – we schecht, essentially, between the lowest and highest cartilage rings, for which the giraffe affords us plenty of space. Broadcaster Bill Chadwick said of Gene Carr, “He couldn’t put the puck in the ocean if he was standing at the end of the pier” - that’s the sort of shochet who can’t schect a giraffe! [At the link above you'll find a related quip, but I prefer hockey...]
Of course, there are customs that have esoteric origins, and are not really myths. For example, many people who give away a deceased person’s clothes will not give away his shoes, and for years I thought this was a myth. Then I saw Sefer Chasidim 454 – that doesn’t make this halachah, but it does provide a basis.
But two berachos for mishloach manot? Myth.