Halachot of Purim
Rabbi Yisrael Dov Webster
1) MONTH OF ADAR
Chazal taught, Just as when the month of Av begins our joy is reduced, so too when the month of Adar begins our joy is increased. For the Jews in the time of Mordechai and Esther the month of Adar was changed from sorrow to joy (Tannis 29, MA 686-5).
Rav Pappa stated: That a Jew who has a lawsuit with a Gentile should avoid it during the month of Av, for it is a time of ill omen for him. However, he should attempt to have it in the month of Adar, for it is a time of good omen for him (Tannis 29, MA 686).
3) THE SEVENTH OF ADAR
The seventh of Adar is the day on which Moshe Rabbenu was born and the day on which he passed away one hundred and twenty years later (SA 580-2, See Titz Eliezer Vol. 5-1, Yobia Omar Vol. 4 YD 24). It is customary among the chassidim and pious to fast on the seventh of Adar and recite the special tikun prayer for the day which is found in the siddur ( Sharai Tshuva 686).
It is customary, in many Jewish communities, for the Chevra Kadisha ( the burial society) to observe the seventh of Adar as a day of gathering for all its members. On this day they hold a festive banquet with the participation of the entire community or for just the members. The day is considered as a festival for them and for the community. The reason for this custom is to reflect the praise upon Klal Yisroel and upon those engaged in this special mitzvah. Men of all occupations are happy when they have work and are very sad when there is little to due. However, the Chevra Kadisha although the work they perform is kindness for both the dead and the living, work that they perform faithfully, they never rejoice in their work, just the opposite. When are they happy? Only when their work ceases. Chazal teaches us that the only time we find that the work of the Chevra Kadisha ceased was on the seventh of Adar, the day when Moshe Rabbenu died, for no mortal was engaged in his burial only Hashem Yisborach. It is for this reason that the seventh of Adar was chosen as the day of gathering for those who perform kindness.
4) PARSHAS ZACHOR
On the Shabbos prior to Purim, we read from two Torah scrolls. The weekly Parsha is read from the first Torah scroll with seven people called up to the reading (Shulchan Aruch 685-2 &5). The second is used for Parshas Zachor which is found at the end of Parshas Ki Setze (Devorim 25:17-19).
Every Jew is obligated as a positive Torah precept to detest Amalek and his descendants and to verbally recall that nations treachery. We are obliged to tell our children what Amalek did to us when we left Egypt. This mitzvah will only be completely fulfilled when Amaleks memory will be totally obliterated from the world. The Torah states two parts of this mitzvah, you shall obliterate the memory-verbally, you shall not forget-you shall harbor enmity in your heart. It is for these reasons that Chazal ordained that this portion of the Torah be read publicly once a year on the Shabbos before Purim. This time was chosen so as to juxtapose the obliteration of Amalek and that of Human who was a descendant of Amalek.
Even though we read this portion of the Torah annually when read the entire sedrah of Ki Setze, nevertheless one is obligated to read it again in this prescribed time before Purim.
Due to the fact that this reading is a positive precept, the chazan must have conscious intent to enable the congregation to fulfill their obligation through his reading and the congregation must have conscious intent to fulfill their obligation by listening to the chazan and consider it as if they themselves had read the Torah.
There are different opinions among the poskim, whether women are required to hear the reading of Parshas Zachor. The mitzvah of remembering Amalek was addressed to all males, for they alone have the obligation of waging war, for women are not obligated to wage war, they are not obligated in this mitzvah of remembering. However, the minhag is that women do come to shul for they have accepted this mitzvah to hear the reading for the dispensation of woman vis-a vis of waging war only applies to wars that are voluntary and not wars which are a mitzvah (Shevet Halevi Vol. 3-65). A minor who has not reached the age of bar mitzvah should not be called up to the Torah for maftir on this shabbos. Since he is a minor he is not obligated in this mitzvah and therefore cannot enable others to fulfill their obligation through his reading (Rama 282-2, MB-23).
If one cannot come to shul to hear the reading, one should recite the verses from a chumash (Minchas Chinuch 603). Some poskim are of the opinion that if one will come to shul on Purim day to hear the Megillah, they can fulfill their mitzvah with the reading of the Torah on Purim which precedes the Megillah (MA 685-1, MB-16).
5) FAST OF ESTHER
The thirteenth of Adar-Taanis Esther is observed as a fast day in commemoration of the fast observed by Mordechai, Esther and all of Klal Yisroel. On the thirteenth of Adar, our enemies planned to destroy us but the opposite occurred (Megilas Esther 9:1-2). Whenever the Jews were faced with war, they would fast as we find in the Torah that Moshe Rabbanu fasted before he entered into battle with Amalek. The reason for fasting is to affirm that man does not prevail because of his physical strength or prowess, but only when he lifts up his eyes to Hashem Yisborach in prayer so that he should be granted mercy to succeed. This was the purpose of the fast that Esther had enacted. Through this fast we recall that Hashem Yisborach sees and hears all our prayers of each and every person at a time of trouble. Since the Jews wanted Hashem to help them, they accepted upon themselves this fast to atone for their sins, and that they be found in the eyes of Hashem favorably. Although in the Megillah it states that they fasted for three days we only fast one day (Chap. 4:16). Some Poskim state that the fast on the thirteenth of Adar was decreed by Chazal (Rosh Megillah Chap.1 sub chap.8). Others hold that it is only a custom to fast as a remembrance of the day (Rambam Tannis chap. 5 law 5).
One is permitted to shower or take a haircut on Tannis Esther.
6) WHO IS OBLIGATED TO FAST?
The fast of Esther is not one of the four public fasts ordained by the prophets. Therefore, we are more lenient in its observance (Rama 686-2). The minhag is that a pregnant or nursing woman do not fast. Some poskim are of the opinion that they should fast as much as they can. If a nursing woman due to the fast will not have enough milk, she is not required to fast. Furthermore, in case of a sick person (even those with a slight illness with much discomfort) one may be lenient and are not required to fast. Some poskim require them to make up the fast on another day (Agudah Megillah chap. 1, MB 686-2). A competent Rabbi should be consulted.
All men (over 13 years old) and women (over 12 years old) should fast and refrain from eating and drinking on this day from daybreak until nightfall (SA 686-2).
A woman after childbirth is not required to fast for the first thirty days (Rama 686, MB, Yavatz).
7) WHEN THE FAST FALLS OUT ON SHABBOS
If the thirteenth of Adar falls out on Shabbos, the fast is observed on the preceding Thursday, the eleventh of Adar (Rama 686, Taz, MB). The reason for this is that Purim is on the fourteenth and we do not push off the fast for the following day as in a case of Tisha BAv falls out on Shabbos, nor do we observe the fast on Friday out of respect for Shabbos. The only time that we fast on Friday is when Asarah BTeves is on that day (Rambam Hilchos Tannis 5-5, Livush 686-2 &3).
The half-shekel is given on Thursday after mincha (Luach Eretz Yisroel). Some wait to give it before the reading of the Megillah.
One Shabbos since it is the thirteenth of Adar, we do not recite by Mincha- Tidkascha vtzedek.
8) FROM WHAT TIME DO WE FAST?
The fast begins the morning of the thirteenth of Adar -from daybreak to nightfall, we do not begin the fast from the preceding night as on Yom Kippur or Tisha BAv (MA 686).
9) TEFILLOS ON THE FAST DAY
In the morning after Shemonah Esrei we recite Ovenu Malkanu, Tachanun and Selichos. The Torah is read (Parshas Ki Sisah 32:11-14,34:1-10) in the morning and again in the afternoon by mincha. In the afternoon we add Aneinu in the Shemonah Esrei. Tachanun and Ovenu Malkanu are not recited at Mincha on Tannis Esther (Livush 686-2).
When Purim falls out on Sunday and the fast is pushed to the preceding Thursday, then in the afternoon we recite tachanun and ovenu malkanu.
10) THE HALF-SHEKEL
To commemorate the giving of the half-shekel in the time of the Bais Hamikdash for the purpose of purchasing a Korban Hatzibur- communal offerings beginning with the month of Nissan, we today have the custom of giving the half-shekel (Rama 694-1). The minhag is to give three half-shekels for it is based on the hebrew word " Trumah" contribution, that is stated three times in the Parsha of Ki Sisah where the mitzvah of giving the half-shekel is mentioned (Tashbatz Vol.1-143).
Some Poskim feel that the half-shekel should be given before mincha on the Taanis Esther (Rama 694-1), Others say that it should be given before the reading of the Megillah (Minhagai Chasam Sofer Chap. 9-4). While others say that it may be given before the reading of the Megillah in the morning (MA-2). If one will not be in shul on Tannis Esther, one may give the half-shekel a few days before. If for some reason one forgot to give half-shekel, one may give it any time during the month of Adar. And possibly even after the month (Adar upurim chap. 6-3).
In many shuls the minhag is that a plate is put out with three half-shekels and each person then acquires it by picking it up with the attention of becoming its owner and than places it back down onto the plate as present so the next person can acquire it in the same fashion (Biur Halacha 694). One should not give the half-shekel with the intention of being a Kaparah-forgiveness, but rather only a donation as a remembrance (Yichavei Daas Vol. 1-86).
The amount of the half shekel varies from country to country. One should give three halves of a coin (not paper money) which serve as the local currency, eg. In America three half dollars, in Israel three half shekels (Yalkut Yoseph Vol. 7, Rabbi Y.S. Eliyashav Shlita). In a country where there is no coin which is referred to a being half of the local currency, it is customary to use three halves of coins issued in another country.
The minhag is to give the money to the poor who may use it in any manner which they see fit (Sharai Tshuva 694-2, Yichavei Daas Vol. 1-86). All men from the age of twenty are obligated in this custom (Ra"V). Some say even those males from the age of thirteen are obligated (Tosafos Yom Tov). Preferably, one should give the half-shekel for each member of ones family, including minors (Kaf Hachaim-27). If ones wife is pregnant, one should give the half-shekel for the unborn child (Rama 694). Once a father has accepted the custom of giving a half-shekel for each child, he should continue to do so every year (MA-3, MB-5, KSA 141-5).
Most Poskim are of the opinion that women and girls are not required to perform the Mitzvah of half-shekel (See MA 694-3, MB-5), for the obligation applies only to males above the age of twenty years and according to some over the age of thirteen (Rama 694-1, MA-6, MB-5). Nevertheless, some women and girls do contribute the half-shekel on Taanis Esther (Kaf Hachaim 694-27, Minhaga Rav Shulchan Aruch). Some have the minhag that the husband contributes the half-shekel on behalf of his pregnant wife and children (MB). If a father contributes for his daughter or she gives it herself, he or she should always continue to do so every year (Rabbi Y.S. Eliyashav Shlita).
One cannot count the money that one gives for half-shekel as part of ones maaser money-charity (Shilah Megillah verse Kalei, MA-1) for it is an obligation. Even the half-shekel for ones family (Rabbi C.P. Sheinberg Shlita). However, the extra money that one may want to add to the half-shekel may be taken from maaser.
11) SHABBOS CLOTHING
Some have the minhag to wear Shabbos Clothing on Purim from the evening for it is a festive day (Rama 695, MB-3).
12) WORK PRIOR TO READING THE MEGILLAH
Upon the commencement of nightfall one is not permitted to do any work or take a short nap until one reads the Megillah (MB 692-10 &15). In case of necessity one should contact a Rabbi.
13) EATING PRIOR TO READING THE MEGILLAH
One is not permitted to eat a meal prior to reading the Megillah (evening and morning). One who feels weak due to the fast, is permitted to have a light snack prior to the reading (SA 692-4,MB-14&17, SA 235 MB-9, See Nishmas Avraham Vol.1-692), if there are others present to remind him that he should not forget to read the Megillah (Shulchan Aruch 392-4, MB-13). A person who will hear the reading later in the evening should also refrain from eating a meal unless someone will remind them.
14) READING THE MEGILLAH
One is required to read the Megillah both by night and during the day (Shulchan Aruch 687-1). The obligation at night can be fulfilled from nightfall until dawn (Shulchan Aruch 692-4, Chai Adam 195-5, MB 687-1). In case of great necessity, when it would be otherwise impossible to hear the Megillah all together one may read it from Plag Hamincha (one and a quarter halachic hours before sunset). A competent Rabbi should be consulted.
The obligation to read by day can be fulfilled from sunrise until sunset. In great necessity, one may read the Megillah from dawn (Shulchan Oruch 687-1, MB-4). A competent Rabbi should be consulted. If one did not read the Megillah and it is past sunset but prior to nightfall, one should read it without a bracha (MB-5). The reading should be done in the presence of a minyan in shul, even if one has a minyan in ones home. Because one of the reasons that we read the Megillah is to publicize the miracles of Purim and this is best accomplished when it is read publicly in the shul (Bach 691, MA-23). Those people that are unable to attend shul or reading at the prescribed time should preferably gather ten men for the mitzvah of publicizing the miracle. If this is not possible, one should read the Megillah by himself (Shulchan Aruch 690-18, MB 689-15, Shar Hatzion 690-64, Chai Adam). The Vilna Goan is of the opinion that one need not do this if one reads the Megillah in its proper time, on the 14th of Adar.
The reading of the Megillah takes precedence over the performance of all positive mitzvos, even Torah study (Taanis Daf 3, SA 687-2). The only mitzvah which takes precedence before the reading is the burial of a dead person who was found dead and who has no one to provide for his needs.
The mitzvah of reading the Megillah applies to both men, women (SA 689-1) and children that reached the age of training (chinuch). Although women are usually exempt from mitzvos which have a time restriction, but due to the fact that women played a key role in the miracle they have the same requirements as a man. Young children that are old enough to follow the reading should be brought to shul, (even if they will not completely follow along with the chazan (Shevet Hakati Vol. 3-213)) but only if they will not disturb the congregation, otherwise it is better to leave them at home (MB 689-3,17&18, Biur Halacha, See Chelkas Yaakov Vol. 3-143).
Some state that a woman should not read the Megillah for themselves, but rather hear it in the presence of ten men, for this constitutes a public gathering (SA 690-18, MA 689-8). It is questionable whether men and women may be counted together to form this group (Rama citing Hagahoth Ashri). Some say that when this is not possible, a woman may read it herself from a kosher Megillah (Chai Adam 155-11, MB 689-8). Since women are required to hear the Megillah, they should go to shul to hear the Megillah even when this entails leaving a child below bar or bat mitzvah age to care for the younger children unless it is not safe (Biur Hatev 689-1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141-15, MB-1, Chelkat Yaakov Vol.3-144, Mishnah Halachos Vol. 4-82). The child should hear the Megillah read privately. Many communities have a second reading of the Megillah for women.
A woman may not read the Megillah for a man (SA 689-2) unless he does not know how to read it and there is no other man available who can read it for him (Kaf Hachaim 689-16). If he later finds a man who knows how to read the Megillah, he should ask him to read it without a bracha (Ben Ish Chai Vol. 1 TeTzaveh-2). A man who reads the Megillah for a group of women is advised not to fulfill his obligation at the same time. He should either have read the Megillah in shul or plan to hear it later for he needs to hear or read it in a public gathering (MB 692-11).
When a man reads the Megillah for a women, the bracha is "Lishmoah mikra Megillah" instead of "Al mikra Megillah". When a woman reads the Megillah, she recites the bracha "Lishmoah mikra Megillah" instead of "Al mikrah Megillah" for women are only required to hear but not read it (Rama 689-2, Chayei Adam, See Biur Halacha 2ed. 689, Kinyan Torah BHalacha Vol. 3-103). Some poskim are of the opinion that each woman should recite her own brachos (Minchas Yitchock Vol. 3-54) or one woman recites the brachos for everyone (Luach Eretz Yisroel ). Others are of the opinion that the man may recite the brachos even when one of the women is capable of reciting them (MB 692-10). A woman should only read the Megillah for a large gathering of women if there is no other possibility for them to hear the Megillah (Shulchan Aruch 689-1, MB-7). However, she may read it for another woman (MB689-7). See Par 15 with regard to the bracha after reading the Megillah for woman.
The chazan must have a conscious intent to enable the congregation to fulfill their obligation through his reading and the congregation must have conscious intent to fulfill their obligation by listening to the chazan and consider it as if they themselves had read the Megillah (Shulchan Aruch 690-14, MB-48). However, the person who will read the Megillah for you must himself be obligated in this mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch 689-2). The following people cannot read the Megillah for another person, a deaf person, a child under bar mitzvah, etc. If they did read it for you, you have not fulfilled your requirement.
The chazan should stand during the reading of the Megillah (Ran in Bais Yoseph 690, SA-1), however, the congregants may sit during the reading (SA 690-1, Ben Ish Chai Vol. 1 Parshas TeTzaveh-4, MB-1, See Mikrai Kodesh-34). An individual who reads the Megillah privately may read it either standing or sitting. It is proper that all those listening to the reading should have a kosher Megillah in front of them and read along silently (Pri Migadim AA-11, MB 689-5). In this way, one can be certain that even if he missed one word being read, he will have read it by himself and will have fulfilled his obligation.
One must read the Megillah, from beginning to end from a kosher Megillah (one that was written on parchment). If one read it by heart, one has not fulfilled his requirement, neither he nor the listeners (Shulchan Aruch 690-3, MA-8). However, if one read a verse of the Megillah by heart it is bdiavid acceptable (MB-7). Therefore, if one missed hearing a few words from the reader, one should read them by heart or from their chumash until one reaches the place with the reader, and then stops reading for themselves and resumes listening to the reader. This way one at least fulfills ones Mitzvah bdiavid, because if one misses even one word one would not fulfill their requirement of reading the Megillah at all (MB 689-10 & 690-5,6&19 and Biur Halacha -3). If one is useing a non kosher Megillah or a chumash to follow along with the chazan, they should be careful not to read along with him, for they must hear the reading from a kosher Megillah (MB 690-4, Biur Halacha-3).
If one does not have a kosher Megillah, one must still read it from a chumash but without a bracha (Pri Migadim 691, MB-27).
The minhag is that only the chazan spreads out the Megillah onto the bima of the shul, rather than rolling it as one does with a Torah scroll. The sheets of parchment on which the Megillah is written are folded under each other so that the sheets do not hang over the table. The reason for this minhag is that the verse in the Megillah refers to the Megillah as a letter. Just as a letter is held completely open when being read, so to should the Megillah be completely opened when read (SA 690-17, MA-18, MB-56). Some spread out the Megillah even during a private reading, however many do not have this minhag (Kaf Hachaim 690-104, Rav Shulchan Aruch Addend, Likutai Mahrich). One must read the Megillah in its proper order. If one reads it in reverse order, or not in its proper order, one has not fulfilled their requirement (SA 690-6). Therefore, if one omitted a word or one verse, one must go back to that word or verse and read from there and on in its proper order.
One who has already fulfilled his mitzvah, may still read the Megillah for someone else. Preferably that person should say the barachos for himself, if he is capable (Shulchan Aruch 692-3, MA 585-3).
The minhag is that children draw a picture of Haman or write his name on a stone or wood and bang the wood when Hamans name is mentioned, to show that we are wiping out his name (Rama 690-17, Madrash, Levush). The minhag today is that the children use a grager (noise maker) (MB-59). The chazan should be careful and not cut any words before and after the noise making (MB-60).
The minhag is that the chazan pauses allowing the congregants to recite the following text that speaks of Klal Yisroels redemption: Esther 2:5,8:15 &16,10:3. Some also add verse 6:1. The chazan than repeats these verses since not everyone has a kosher Megillah and they must hear every word from a kosher Megillah (Rama-17, MB-58). Some state that the reason for this minhag is to prevent the children from falling asleep during the reading (Hagahos Maimoni Chap. 1 Migellah ). For the story of the Megillah was a great miracle for Klal Yisroel and will enter each childs heart (MB 689-17,Rama 690-17). We have already stated that the chazan repeats these four verses in order that the congregants should hear them from a kosher Migellah (MB).
The names of Hamans ten sons, are read out loud starting from the phrase "Five hundred men" which precedes them and the word "ten" which follows (Esther 9:6-10) in one breath. In some shuls the congregants also recite it (See Chai Adam, Taphnas Ponaiah addend. to Rambam, Mikrai Kodesh-13) many poskim feel that only the chazan should read it and not the congregants (Chai Adam, KSA, MB 690-52). The reason for this is to indicate that all ten were killed at one time. If the chazan failed to read these verses in one breath, one has still fulfilled the mitzvah.
One should not hear the reading of the migellah over a microphone (Daas Torah 689, Minchas Shlomo-9, Minchas Yitzchock Vol. 1-37 & Vol. 3-54).
15) THE BRACHOS RECITED ON THE MEGILLAH
The congregants should stand while the brachos are being recited (prior to and after the reading) (Machatitz Hashekel 690-1, Ben Ish Chai Parshas TeTzavah-4, Kaf Hachaim-2 See Shevet Hakhati Vol. 1-212). Some are lenient when reading privately (Mikrai Kodesh-34).
The chazan recites three brachos before reading the Megillah and one bracha after completing the reading (Shulchan Aruch 692-1).
The chazan must have a conscious intent to discharge the obligation of those listening to him. The congregants should listen and have conscious intent to have their obligation discharged through him, and should only answer amen. Preferably, one should refrain and not answer boruch hu uvaruch shemo (Shulchan Aruch 124-5).
The three brachos recited before the reading are:
After reading the Megillah, we have the custom to recite the bracha of
"Harav Es Riveinu etc." (SA 692-1) a bracha that gives praise and thanks to
Hashem Yisborach for the miracles that he performed for us. This bracha is only recited
when the Megillah is recited with a quorum (Rama 692-1). Some Poskim are of the opinion
that this bracha is recited even if there is not a quorum (Maharil Purim, Aruch Hashulchan
There is a dispute amoung the poskim whether the bracha of Harav Es Riveinu is recited when one reads the Megillah for women (Yalkut Yoseph Vol. 7, Mikraey Kodesh Page 144.
The minhag is to roll up the Megillah back into a scroll before reciting the bracha of "Harav Es Riveinu etc.", for it is considered disrespectful to leave the Megillah open (SA 690-17). Some are lenient in a private reading (Ashel Avraham 690, Yalkut Yoseph Vol. 7 page 296).
The three brachos recited at night are repeated before the reading during the day. (Some say the bracha of "Shehechiyanu" is not recited by the daytime reading, only the first two brachos. Others say that even by day we recite all three. The custom is to recite all three brachos even by day (MB 692-2)). However, when the Chazan recites the bracha of Shehechiyanu he should have a conscious intent mind that the bracha applies to all the mitzvos of Purim (the Purim meal, Mishloach Monos, and Matanos Laevyonim- money for the poor). However, if one did not have a Megillah or did not have these mitzvos in mind one should not recite the bracha before these Mitzvos (MA-1, MB-1).
16) TEFILLOS ON PURIM
After reading the Megillah at night we recite "Vata Kodosh" as on Saturday night (Shulchan Aruch 693-1). If Purim falls out on Saturday night, we recite in addition to "Vata Kodosh" also "Vayihi Noam", read the Megillah, make Havdallah and afterwards say "Vayiten Licha"(MB-2). Some communities, for convenience have a break after maariv, whereupon the men go home, make Havdallah and then return to shul for the reading of the Megillah.
The Megillah should not be brought to shul before Maariv on Saturday night even in a place where there is an eruv (Chai Adam 195-10).
Al HANISIM IN SHEMONAH ESREI
On Purim (by day and by night) (SA 693-2), we add to the Shemoneh Esrei and to benching the piyut of "Al Hanisim" in the bracha of "Modim"and after "Nodeh Licha" in benching.
At night, even though we have not yet read the Megillah, we still say "Al Hanisim" (Rama 693-2). Furthermore, even if one davens maariv before nightfall one would say al hanisim (MB-4). If one forgot to say "Al Hanisim"in the Shemoneh Esrei, and realized before saying the name of Hashem at the end of the bracha that concludes Modim, he should go back and say al hanisim and than continue with the Shemoneh Esrei (SA 682-1, 693-1, Biur Halacha 114 par. bimokom ).
If one realized after saying Hashems name but before concluding the entire Shemoneh Esrei. One should continue and before saying the verse "Yiheyu Leratzon Imrei etc." at the end of the Shemoneh Esrei, precede it with "Harachaman Hu Yaasey Lanu Nisim Veniflaos Kemo Sheasa Laavoseinu Bayamin Haheim Bazman Hazeh, Biyemei Mordechai VEsther etc.(MB 682-4) If someone forgot to say Al Hanissim in the Shemoneh Esrei on Purim, and did not realize until after finishing the entire Shemoneh Esrei, one does not need to repeat the Shemoneh Esrei (Rama 693-2).
AL HANISIM IN BENCHING
Al Hanisim is said at all meals on Purim even if the seudah continued after nightfall (Rama 695-3). Some are of the opinion that once one davens maariv the Al Hanisim can no longer be recited, therefore, one should finish the Purim meal before maariv (MB-16). One may continue rejoicing and dancing after maariv.
If one forgot to add al hanisim in benching, there are different opinions as to whether one must repeat the benching since there is a Rabbinic obligation to eat at least one meal. Therefore, one should be extremely careful when they bench not to omit it (S.A. 695). If one forgot and realized it before one reaches the Harachaman at the end of benching, he should add it together with the Harachamans. Before Harachaman Hu Yizakeinu etc. he should say Harachaman Hu Yaaseh Lanu Nisim Veniflaos Kemo Sheasa Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bazman Hazeh, Biyemei Mordechai VEsther etc..
If one said al hanisim at one meal on Purim, according to all the poskim one is not required to repeat it if on forgot to recite it in benching of later meal.
On Purim we do not recite Hallel (Shulchan Aruch 693-3). Some state the reason being that it is unnecessary since the reading of the megillah is itself a form of Hallel to Hashem Yisborach. Others are of the opinion that we do not recite Hallel for a miracle which took place outside of Eretz Yisroel. The Gemorah asks, that we do say Hallel regarding the exodus of Egypt? The Gemorah answers, that until the people entered Eretz Yisroel every land was considered to be suitable as regards to the recital of Hallel. Once they entered Eretz Yisroel no other land was considered to be important enough as regards to the recital of Hallel.
TEFILLOS THAT ARE OMITTED IN THE DAVENING
We do not say "Tachnun, Laminatzach, and Kal Erech Apayim by the reading of the Torah (MB 693-8).
READING OF THE TORAH
On Purim morning we take out the Torah and read the portion about Amalek (at the end of Parshas Bishalach) for three people. Even though there are only nine verses we read this without doubling the last verse of the parsha, since this is the reading of the day (Shulchan Aruch 693-4).
We do not remove are Tephillin until after Davening (MB 693-6).
After reading the Torah we read the Megillah, and afterwards we say VAtah Kodosh (SA 693-4).
17) BRIS MILAH
If there is a Bris Milah on Purim, we perform the bris before the reading of the Megillah (Rama 683-4, Chai Adam 155-6, MB 687-9). Others perform it after the reading of the Megillah (Pri Chodosh, Gra).
18) EULOGIES AND FASTING ON PURIM
Eulogies and fasting are prohibited on both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar. Furthermore, in a leap year, this applies to the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar I. One who is mourning does not observe any of the public signs of mourning on these days eg. He does not sit on the floor, remove shoes. However, he does observe the private aspects of mourning as one would on Shabbos.
19) THE OBLIGATIONS OF THE DAY OF PURIM
There are four mitzvos which are obligatory on purim. These mitzvos were established by the Sanhedrin and the prophets. They are Reading the Megillah of Esther, the Purim seudah, reciprocal sending gifts of food and giving gifts to the poor.
The mitzvos that are obligatory on Purim apply to both open and walled cities, each on the day on which Purim is celebrated.
20) MATONOS LAEVYONIM - GIFTS FOR THE POOR
Matonos Laevyonim is to be given on Purim by day and not by night (Rama 695-5, MA-13, MB-22). If for some reason, one cannot give during the day one may give it at night prior to the reading (Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Z"tl in Blala Hawho page 19). One is required to give two gifts to two poor people on Purim, one gift to each person (SA 694-1).
The obligation can be fulfilled through any type of gift, either money, food, or clothing (Rambam chap-15). Every man, woman and child that reaches the age of chinuch (Pri Migadim 695), even a poor person that is supported from tzedaka is required to give money to two really poor people on Purim, as it is written "Matonos Laevyonim" which means two presents (matonos), which is one present per poor person (Shulchan Aruch 694-1, 695-4, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142-4, Aruch Hashulchan-20 ).
Some women rely on their husbands and do not give the money themselves. However, others are more stringent and give it themselves (MA 695-14, Pri Chodosh, Aruch Hashulchan-20).
If one uses money, it should be his own and not of masser money (MA 694-1). Although we have stated that one is required only to give two people, if one wishes to give more people or more than the minimum amount of money (see below), then one may give the additional monies from masser money (MB 694-3). Money which one has designated for giving to the poor on Purim may not be given to another charity.
One is permitted to give a check as long as there are funds and one can draw on the check today, therefore, a postdated check is no good or if the banks are closed (Mishnah Halachos Vol. 6-122, Rabbi C.P. Scheinberg Shlita, Rabbi N. Koralitz Shlita) Matonos Laevyonim should not be given before Purim, since the money might be spent by the poor people before the prescribed time (MA 694-1, Biur Halacha, Kaf Hachaim -15). However, some have the custom that the money may be given earlier to a person to hold for him to allocate it on Purim by day (Aruch Hashulchan-2). Others give it before the reading of the Megillah (Rabbi Y. Emdin Zt"l) while others give it after the reading of the Megillah (Kaf Hachaim 694-18).
The Gemorah states that one must give one gift to two poor people. However, the Gemorah does specify the amount of these gifts. There is a dispute among the poskim as to the exact amount of money that must be given in order to fulfill this mitzvah. Some state that it should be an amount sufficient to enable the poor person to purchase bread weighing the equivalent of three eggs (Zairai Emes Vol. 1-11, ST 694-1). Some state that even a small coin (nickel or dime) is sufficient (Ritvah Megillah Daf 7a). Others state the amount needed is the amount equivalent to the cost of a meal (Pri Migadim 694-1, MB-2, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Zt"l, etc.). Therefore, the amount should be around four dollars (American) per poor person.
These gifts should be given early enough so that the poor person can benefit from them on Purim and for the seudah. However, the recipient may use these gifts in any manner they see fit (Bais Yoseph, Biur Hatev -2).
We try to attempt and determine whether the recipient is indeed a poor person (Rabbi Y.S.Eliyasav Shlita), however, any person who stretches out his hand is to be given a gift. In many communities the Rabbi will collect the money and distribute it to the poor. If there are no poor people in ones community, the gifts which he usually gives should be set aside until he has an opportunity to give them to the poor.
21) MISHLOACH MANOS
It is an obligation to send a gift consisting of at least two different items of food to another person. This obligation pertains to every man, women and child from the age of chinuch, as it is written in Megillas Esther-two presents to one person (Shulchan Aruch 695-4).
Mishloach Manos should be given by day and not by night (Darkie Moshe 695-7, MB-22).
Preferably the packages should be sent after the reading of the Megillah (Rama 695-4, MB-22). It is proper that these gifts are delivered by a third party rather than the donor personally. Preferably the messenger should be an adult who can serve as a shaliach not a child or non-Jew. However, one need only send one package this way the rest of the packages may be sent through a child (MB 695-18). Nevertheless, if one delivered these gifts personally, he has fulfilled the obligation.
A women should send to a women and a man to a man (Rama 695, MB-26). However, a man should not send to a single woman and a woman should not send to a man. This restriction does not apply to Matonos Laevyonim (Rama 695-4, Sharai Tshuvah 695-9, Shevuth Yaakov Vol. 1. -41). A woman who wishes to send Mishloach Manos to a Rabbi or teacher, should send it to his wife (Kaf Hachaim 695-58). A married woman should send her own Mishloach Manos (MB-25).
To fulfill this obligation, one must give food which can be consumed without any further preparation, i.e., cooked meat or fish, cake, candy, fruit, wine or other beverage. (Gemorah Megillah Daf 7, Shulchan Aruch 695-4, MB-20). It is proper that each gift should be substantial enough to convey a feeling of respect. Therefore, one should not send something that might insult the recipient. Each item should be at least the size of a kizayis (Aruch Hashulchan -14 &15).
The obligation cannot be fulfilled by giving money. It is preferable, however, to be more generous in gifts to the poor than to friends. (Rambam Megillah 2-15, etc.).
Although it is sufficient to send only to one person, nevertheless, whoever increases and sends too many is praiseworthy (Rambam Megillah 2-15). The Rambam further states (2-17) that it is better for a person to increase in the giving of Matonos Laevyonim, rather than to increase in his seudah or in sending Mishloach Manos to more friends, as there is no greater and more prestigious simcha than to give joy to the hearts of the poor etc. For he that rejoices the hearts of these saddened people are compared to the Hashems Shechina.
Poor people are also obligated in this requirement. If one has nothing to give, he should exchange his own food with that of his friend and they will both thereby fulfill this mitzvah.
One should make sure that all Trumas and Maaser is taken off all the items, furthermore, one must make sure that challah was taken off (Mikraeh Kodosh-41). A mourner is required to send Mishloach Manos, however, one should not send to a mourner (Rama 696-6, MB-20). One is permitted to send to a mourners wife (Pinai Boruch).
22) SEUDAS PURIM - THE PURIM MEAL
The festive Purim meal has a special significance, for it elevates the soul of the Jew as well as providing pleasure for the body (Zohar).
It is a Mitzvah for every man and women to eat at least one meal on Purim by day (Shulchan Aruch 695-1), one who ate the meal at night did not fulfill this requirement. Nevertheless, one should preferably also rejoice and eat something at night (Megillah Daf 7b, Rama 695-1). Some do not eat meat in the evening so as not to make a mistake and think that this is the seudas Purim (Kol Bo).
One should invite ones family and friends to join him in the meal and make it a more joyous one (MB-9). Chazal obligated all males to drink wine until one reaches the point where he can no longer differentiate between "cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai" (Rambam, Mikraeh Kodosh-44). However, women are not required to drink this much and a cup or less is sufficient (Rivivos Ephraim Vol. 1-458, Moadim UZmanim Vol. 2-190).
The seudah should consist of meat, wine (Rambam, Aruch Hashulchan-20). Many Poskim requires one to wash for bread for the meal (Chai Adam 155-30, MB 695-4, Aruch Hashulchan-7).
Many have the custom to light candles for the meal (Sharei Tshuva 695).
Some have the minhag to eat Dumplings (kreplach) at the seudah (Tamai Hamihagim).
The custom is to eat this meal after Mincha in the late afternoon, since one is busy reading the Megillah, giving out Matonos laevyonim, Mishaloach Monos in the morning (Terumas Hadashen 110, Rama 695-2). However, some eat the meal in the morning (Rama 695-2, Archus Hachaim -35). Others eat two meals, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (Taz 695-2, MB-15).
Most of the meal should be eaten during daytime and preferably continue into the night of Shushan Purim (Trumas Hadashen 110). However, when Purim is on a Friday, one should start the meal before noon in honor of the Shabbos. In this way one will be able to eat that Shabbos meal properly with an appetite (Rama 695-2, MB-10).
It is proper that one learns Torah before beginning the meal (Darkie Moshe 695-3). This is eluded too in the Megillah, for the verse states- The Jews had light (Esther 8:16). Chazal explains that light refers to Torah. Some start to study some laws of Pesach on Purim day since it is thirty days before the start of the Yom Tov of Pesach.
Since the Purim seudah is a requirement, one is required to recite al hanisim in the benching. If one began ones seudah by day and it continued into the night one still recites al hanisim when one benches ( Shulchan Aruch 696-3, MB 15).
If one forgot to add al hanisim in benching, there are different opinions as to whether one must repeat the benching since there is a Rabbinic obligation to eat at least one meal. Therefore, one should be extremely careful when they bench not to omit it (SA 695). If one forgot and realized it before one reaches the harachaman at the end of benching, he should add it together with the Harachamans. Before Harachaman Hu Yizakeinu etc. he should say Harachaman Hu Yaaseh Lanu Nissim Veniflaos Kemo Sheasa Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bazman Hazeh, Biyemei Mordechai VEsther etc..
If one recited al hanisim at one meal on Purim, one is not required to repeat it if on forgot to recite it in benching of another meal.
23) WORK ON PURIM
According to Halacha, one is permitted to do work on Purim (Shulchan Aruch 696-1). However, it is considered as improper to do work. Chazal stated that one who works on Purim will never see any benefit from the work. One is permissible to go to work if it will cause one a financial loss (MB-3).
The work that which we are referring to is work that is done to earn a profit. However, work involving the performance of a mitzvah or work for Purim itself, is always permitted.
Those who celebrate Purim on the fourteenth are allowed to work on the fifteenth and vice versa.
24) COSTUMES ON PURIM
The minhag is that on Purim one masquerades and dresses up as a non-Jew so that we not be recognized. One reason offered for this minhag is that we show that even though we sometimes sin and act like Goyim, this is only an outward manifestation, inherently, we remain faithful to Hashem Yisborach.
In some communities women wear male clothing and vice versa for the sake of merrymaking. Many poskim are against this dressing and prohibit it even by small children (Rama 696-8, Bach YD 182, Taz YD 182, Pri Chodosh 688-10, Baer Hativ 696-13, Kaf Hachaim 696-57, MB-30, Yichava Daas Vol. 5-50).
In all cases, it is forbidden for women to wear immodest clothing.
25) SHUSHAN PURIM
Since Klal Yisroel in the time of Mordecai and Esther fought against their enemies on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th day, they therefore observed Purim on the 14 of Adar. However, the Jews living in Shushan, having fought also on the 14th of Adar did not rest until the 15th and therefore observed Purim on the 15 of Adar. This day is called Shushan Purim- the Purim for those people living in Shushan (Migellas Esther 9.17-19).
By right the only city to celebrate on the fifteenth of Adar should be Shushan, however Chazal wanted to accord honor to the land of Eretz Yisroel which was desolate at the time. They therefore decreed that Shushan where the miracle occurred have an importance of its own and celebrates Purim on the fifteenth, even though it was not settled and thus did not have a surrounding wall at the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun (Shulchan Aruch 688-3). All cities which were settled and had walls at the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun, whether they are in Eretz Yisroel or outside Eretz Yisroel, even if they are in a state of ruin and are no longer surrounded by a wall are considered to be important and read the Megillah and observe Purim on the 15th of Adar (Rambam Megillah 1-4&5). Jerusalem is considered as a city surrounded by a wall. Cities which did not have a wall at the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun even if they have walls surrounding them today are required to celebrate Purim on the fourteenth of Adar (Iyur Hakodash VHamikdash Vol. 3).
A city that is doubtful if it was surrounded by a wall from the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun reads the Megillah both on the 14th and 15th of Adar (Acco, Yaffo and Tverya). However, the bracha on the Megillah is recited only on the 14th of Adar, like the majority of the world (Rambam, Shulchan Aruch 688-4). Matonos Laevyonim and Mishaloach Monos and Seudas Purim are observered on both days (MA-5). Some say that this doubt pertains only to cities in Eretz Yisroel and not for those cities outside Eretz Yisroel for they observe it on the 14th of Adar (Magid Mishnah). Others say that when one is really in doubt the halacha applies in all places, even in cities out Eretz Yisroel (Shilah see MA 688-4). While some say that our countries are not included in this doubt, as they are north and far away from Eretz Yisroel and were most probably not inhabited in the time of Yehoshua bin Nun (Levush see MA-4). Some Poskim argue on the whole halacha and hold that even when one is really in doubt you still read the Megillah only on the 14th of Adar (Geonim see Gra-8). Tveria in Eretz Yisroel is a city that is a doubt if it was surrounded by a wall (Gemara Megillah 5b).
Since there are various opinions with regard to a person from a city that was surrounded by a wall outside it or vice versa, one should consult a competent Rav as to when he should read the Megillah and make Purim eg. a person from Bnai Barak who traveled to Jerusalem on the 15th of Adar and vice versa- the person from Jerusalem traveled to Bnai Barak on the 14th of Adar (688-5).
Even those who are in a city that was not surrounded by a wall
nevertheless observe the following on Shushan Purim:
One is permitted to get married on the 14 or 15th of Adar (Shulchan Aruch 696-8). Some say you are not allowed to make a wedding on the 14th, rather it should be made on the 13th (Levush see MA 696).
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