THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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MEGILAH 2-5 (Elul 27-Rosh Hashanah 5760) - have been dedicated by Dr. Jack
and Sarah Dimenstein of Zurich Switzerland. May they be blessed with a year
of health and prosperity, physical and spiritual!
1) THE THIRTEENTH OF ADAR
OPINIONS: The Mishnah says that under various circumstances, the Megilah may
be read on one of five days -- the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth,
or fifteenth of Adar. We know that the Megilah may be read on the fourteenth
and the fifteenth of Adar, as the verse states explicitly (Esther 9:21). The
Gemara derives from the verses the source for reading the Megilah on the
eleventh and twelfth. The Gemara says that it is obvious that the Megilah may
be read on the thirteenth day of Adar and no verse is needed for that, since
that day was "the time of everyone gathering together" ("Zeman Kehilah
What is this "time of everyone gathering together," and what makes it obvious
that the Megilah may be read on that day?
(a) RASHI (DH Zeman Kehilah) says that this refers to when the Jewish people
gathered together on the thirteenth of the month to avenge their enemies, in
both Shushan and in all other areas. Since the primary miracle (the downfall
of our enemies) occurred on that day, it is obvious that the Megilah may be
(b) The RAN cites an explanation in the name of Tosfos, based on the
Yerushalmi, which is effectively the opposite of Rashi's explanation. The
Gemara deduces from a verse that the two additional days on which the Megilah
may be read must be similar to the primary two days (the fourteenth and the
fifteenth). On those two days the Jews *rested*, relieved of the threat that
had hung over them. The fact that the thirteenth was a day of war should make
it *unfit* for reading the Megilah, since the Jews were not at rest on that
day but were at battle! Thus, the eleventh and twelfth of Adar are included
instead. However, once we are taught that the Megilah may be read as early as
the eleventh and twelfth, then certainly it may be read on the thirteenth.
That is what the Gemara means when it says that the thirteenth is "the time
of everyone gathering together." Since they gathered together for war, the
two additional days must be the eleventh and twelfth, and if so, certainly
the thirteenth is also included for reading the Megilah.
(c) The RAN and the ROSH cite RABEINU TAM who says that "the time of everyone
gathering together" refers to the time that everyone *fasted* together
(because they were going to battle and were fasting, as we find that the
Jewish people fasted when they went to war with Amalek).
Rabeinu Tam says that according to this explanation, this Gemara is the
source for our practice to fast and observe Ta'anis Esther on the thirteenth
of Adar. There is *no other source* for this Ta'anis. In fact, before the
time of the Gemara, the contrary was true; during the time that Megilas
Ta'anis was observed (before being annulled after the Churban of the second
Beis ha'Mikdash), the thirteenth of Adar was a day of celebration (Ta'anis
18b). It must be that after Megilas Ta'anis was annulled, the Chachamim
enacted that we fast on the thirteenth of Adar to commemorate the fast of
Mordechai and Esther.
The ROSH cites others who give a different source for Ta'anis Esther. They
cite a statement in Maseches Sofrim (17:4) which says that, "Our rabbis in
Eretz Yisrael fasted three days in Adar," in commemoration of the three-day
fast that Esther observed at Pesach time when she heard of Haman's decree
against the Jews. The rabbis did not want to fast in Nisan, because Nisan is
a time of Simchah. Therefore, they forwarded their commemorative fast to
Adar, to the days right before Purim.
The RAN in Rosh Hashanah (18a) cites the RA'AVAD who asserts that the
obligation to observe Ta'anis Esther is mentioned explicitly in the Megilah
(Esther 9:31). The verse says that the Jewish people accepted to observe
Purim "like they had accepted upon themselves and their descendants the
fasts...." What fasts did they already accept? It must be that they had
accepted to observe a fast in Adar in commemoration of Esther's fast in
Nisan. When it says in Megilas Ta'anis that the thirteenth of Adar is a day
of Simchah, that means that it is Asur to eulogize on that day, but it is not
Asur to fast on that day.
The Ran (ibid.) and Rishonim reject this as a source for Ta'anis Esther. They
explain that the verse is referring to the four fasts mentioned in Zecharyah
(8:19, those being the fast of Tishrei, the fast of Teves, the fast of Tamuz,
and the fast of Av). The verse is saying that they accepted Purim just as
they accepted the four Ta'aniyos.
2) DIFFERENT DAYS TO CELEBRATE PURIM
QUESTION: The Gemara shows from the verses in the Megilah that there are two
separate days that are designated for celebrating Purim. The open cities
("Perazim") observe Purim on the fourteenth of Adar, and the walled cities
("Mukafin") observe Purim on the fifteenth.
3) WHAT WE LEARN FROM THE REPETITION OF "MEDINAH" AND "IR"
Why did the Chachamim institute two different days of Purim for different
types of cities? Normally, the Chachamim are extremely careful to maintain
equality in the practices of different places, going out of their way to
institute the same practice everywhere (Yevamos 14a; see Insights to Sukah
(a) The RAMBAN says that the simple explanation is that on the first year,
the Jews in all places battled with their enemies on the thirteenth, and on
the fourteenth they rested. Therefore, the Chachamim instituted that they
observe Purim on the fourteenth. The Jews in the city of Shushan, though,
were engaged in battle on both the thirteenth and the fourteenth of Adar, and
they rested only on the fifteenth. Therefore, the Chachamim instituted that
the people in Shushan always celebrate Purim on the fifteenth. Once a
different day of Purim was enacted for Shushan, the Chachamim also included
other cities that are distinguished (i.e. walled), like Shushan, in the
enactment to observe Purim on the fifteenth. Since the main miracle occurred
in Shushan, the city of Shushan observes Purim on the day of the main
miracle, the fifteenth. Likewise, distinguished cities celebrate on the day
of the main miracle, like Shushan, on the fifteenth.
The Ramban, though, is not comfortable with this explanation, because even in
Shushan the main battle occurred on the thirteenth, and they had reason to
rejoice already on the fourteenth. Thus the most fitting day to observe Purim
the following year should have been the fourteenth (along with all other
cities). Why should Shushan celebrate on the fifteenth and be different than
the rest of the Jewish people?
(b) The RAMBAN therefore suggests an entirely different approach. He explains
that the first few years after the miracle of Purim, the Chachamim had not
yet made a broad enactment for all of the Jewish people to celebrate Purim.
Nevertheless, certain groups of people celebrated Purim on their own because
they appreciated the great salvation that Hashem had granted to them.
However, only people in the open cities celebrated, because they felt their
vulnerability. There were many other people who had returned to Eretz Yisrael
during the time of Koresh, and who lived in walled, Jewish cities in Eretz
Yisrael and did not feel vulnerable. After the miracle of Purim, they did not
celebrate Purim spontaneously, because they did not feel the effects of the
salvation as much as the open cities did.
A few years later Mordechai and Esther instituted the observance of Purim and
the reading of the Megilah for *all* Jewish communities, based upon a source
that they found in the Torah (Megilah 7a, Yerushalmi Megilah 1:5). They sent
a message to all of the Jewish people, telling them to celebrate Purim no
matter where they lived. However, since the open cities had been observing
Purim since the time of the miracle out of their gratitude to Hashem,
Mordechai and Esther decided to give them their own day of celebration to
show respect for their spontaneous observance of Purim, prior to the
enactment. Moreover, Mordechai and Esther established their day of
celebrating Purim one day *before* that of the walled cities, to show respect
to the open cities. They left the walled cities to observe the day Purim on
the fifteenth of Adar, the day that Shushan rested the first year.
The Ramban brings support to this explanation from the verse (Esther 9:23)
which says that "the Jews accepted what they had *already begun to do* and
what Mordechai wrote to them to do." This implies that they had already begun
to observe Purim before Mordechai wrote to them, and now everyone, even those
in the walled cities, accepted it.
He also brings support to this explanation from the Gemara (5b), which says
that the reason walled cities are different is either because they are not
exposed or because they are protected. This also explains why our Gemara (2b)
had a Havah Amina to say that walled cities should not celebrate Purim at
The problem with this explanation is that the Mishnah says that a city has
the status of a walled city if it was walled from the times of Yehoshua.
According to the Ramban, it only matters if the city was walled from the
times of Achashverosh, because those are the cities that did not observe
Purim at first, because they did not feel that they were vulnerable!
The Ramban answers that the Chachamim established that the determining factor
be whether the city was walled in the times of Yehoshua, because most of the
Jewish people at the time of Purim were living in Eretz Yisrael (according to
the Ramban). The people in Eretz Yisrael at that time had not yet had a
chance to build up the cities and their walls. If the Chachamim would have
said that the status of a walled city is determined by whether the city was
walled during the times of Achashverosh, then Yerushalayim and all the other
cities in Eretz Yisrael would be considered open cities. In order to give
honor to Eretz Yisrael, the Chachamim chose not to put the walled cities
(that are walled today) into the category of open cities, and therefore they
made the determining factor based on the times of Yehoshua, when all of those
cities were indeed walled! (The source for this is the Yerushalmi which says
that the reason the determining factor to be considered a walled city is
whether the city was walled at the times of Yehoshua is because "Chilku Kavod
QUESTIONS: The Gemara expounds the verse, "And these days shall be remembered
and celebrated... by province and province (Medinah u'Medinah), and city and
city (v'Ir va'Ir)..." (Esther 9:28). Since the words "Medinah" and "Ir" are
repeated, it must be that the verse is teaching us that there are two types
of Medinah and two types of Ir, each with different Halachos regarding when
to read the Megilah. According to the Tana of our Mishnah, the two types of
Medinah refer to cities that were walled from the times of Yehoshua (which
read the Megilah on the fifteenth), and to cities which were walled later
(which read on the fourteenth). The two types of Ir refer to unwalled cities
(which read on the fourteenth), and to the city of Shushan (which reads on
the fifteenth, even though it was not walled from the times of Yehoshua).
However, according to Rebbi Yehoshua ben Karchah, who holds cities walled
from the times of Achashverosh read the Megilah on the fifteenth, there is
only one difference -- the difference between walled cities (like Shushan)
and unwalled cities. To express that difference, it would have sufficed to
repeat just "Medinah." Why does it also repeat "Ir?"
Moreover, according to the Tana of our Mishnah, the repetition of Medinah is
unnecessary, because the difference between cities that were walled from the
times of Yehoshua and cities which were walled later is already derived from
another verse (the Gezeirah Shavah of "Perazi Perazi")!
The Gemara answers that the repetition of "Medinah" is intended for a
Derashah, to teach that any city within sight of, or near to, a walled city
also reads on the fifteenth like the walled city.
RASHI (DH u'kd'Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi) explains that the Gemara's answer
means that the verse is *only* teaching a Derashah, and is *not*
distinguishing at all between two types of Medinah or two types of Ir. The
verse is saying that each and every city that is close to a Medinah (a walled
city) has the status of that city. (This is why the Gemara emphasizes, "it is
intended for a Derasha," i.e. it is not intended to distinguish between two
types of cities.)
There are several difficulties with Rashi's explanation.
(a) The TUREI EVEN asks why did Rashi not give the simple explanation, as
follows. The verse contains two extra parts -- a repetition of "Medinah" and
a repetition of "Ir." The Gemara's question was that, according to Rebbi
Yehoshua ben Karchah, there is no need for a *second* extra part. The first
extra part of the verse -- the repetition of "Medinah" -- *is* necessary, for
it teaches that there is a difference between walled cities (like Shushan)
and unwalled cities. The only question was that the repetition of "Ir" is
unnecessary. Therefore, when the Gemara answers that the verse is needed to
teach the Halachah regarding a city *near* (or within view of) a walled city,
Rashi should have explained that this Halachah is taught by the repetition of
"Ir!" That way, the Gemara would be consistent with the theme of the verse of
distinguishing between different types of places.
(b) Second, according to Rashi, who says that the verse is only teaching that
a city next to a walled city is different from other cities (that are not
next to walled cities), it would have sufficed for the verse to say "Medinah
v'Ir." Why, though, does the verse mention *two* Medinah's and *two* Ir's?
(a) The Gemara clearly identifies the word "Medinah" with a walled city, and
"Ir" with a normal city. Consequently, whatever Halachah we derive from the
repetition of Medinah must be differentiating between different types of
*walled* cities, and whatever Halachah we derive from the repetition of Ir
must be referring to *normal* cities.
When the Gemara says that it makes sense that one extra part of the verse is
needed to differentiate between Shushan and other unwalled cities (according
to the Tana of the Mishnah), that difference must be derived from the
repetition of "Ir va'Ir," since both Shushan and other unwalled cities are
not in the category of "Medinah." However, if the verse is distinguishing
between cities near walled cities and cities far from walled cities, that
must also be derived from the repetition of "Ir va'Ir," since once again
neither fit into the category of walled cities -- but those words were
already used for something else (to differentiate between Shushan and other
unwalled cities)! We will still be left with the question, why does the verse
repeat "Medinah" according to the Tana of our Mishnah? Therefore, Rashi
explains that the Gemara is no longer understanding the verse to be
differentiating between cities at all, but rather it is just associating
cities that are near walled cities with their walled neighbors.
(b) Regarding the other question, why are the words doubled in the verse if
the verse is not differentiating between different types of Medinah and
different types of Ir, the answer is as follows. If the verse would have said
simply, "And these days shall be remembered and celebrated... by every
province (Medinah) and city (v'Ir)..." without repeating anything, we would
have thought that it is just saying that the unwalled cities observe the
Mitzvah one way and the walled cities observe it another way. It would be
telling us that there are two different days for reading the Megilah. Even
though there is another verse which teaches that "the time [for celebrating
Purim] of this type of city is not like the time of the other type of city,"
that was only with regard to observing the other Mitzvos of the day
("Asiyah"), but not with regard to reading the Megilah ("Zechirah"). It is
this verse which teaches that even with regard to reading the Megilah, the
two types of cities also have different days (since it compares Zechirah to
Asiyah as far as "Medinah u'Medinah, Ir v'Ir").
That is what we would have thought the verse is teaching us had it not
doubled any words. Now that it repeats "Medinah" and "Ir," it is teaching we
pair together cities when a normal city is near a walled city. We associate
the extra "Medinah" of the verse with the extra "Ir" of the verse to teach
that the two are "linked" to each other (as if it would say "Medinah v'Ir,