View current news articles, commentary, videos and more having an impact on Jewish culture, politics and religion at Rabbi Silverman's Sites to See
A number of conundrums occur when Purim falls on a Friday like it does this year. It happens from time to time and creates some interesting questions.
What happens in terms of the seudat purim festive meal, comprised of meat and wine, taking place after the mincha hour and extending into the late afternoon and even the night?
Here is what we learn courtesy of the OU in terms of the seudah in general:
It is a Mitzvah to have a sumptuous meal on Purim, including meat and wine. This meal is held during the day. If one holds it at night, he fails to fulfill his obligation. Nevertheless, after the reading of the Megillah on the night of the 14th (in ‘unwalled cities’), or on the night of the 15th after the Megillah Reading (in ‘walled cities’), one’s meal should be somewhat more festive than usual. One should wear festival clothing and rejoice. The main Purim meal is held Purim afternoon and is preceded by Minchah. The meal is extended into the night. Most of the meal should, however, be during the day.
The miracle of Purim occurred through wine. Vashti was removed from her throne because of a wine-feast and Esther replaced her. The downfall of Haman was brought about through the wine feasting which Esther held. And through the repentance of the Jews, they expiated their sin in having drunk wine at the feast of Achashverosh.
Our Sages of blessed memory, therefore, prescribed the drinking of wine on Purim, and they said, “A person is obligated to drink on Purim till he no longer knows the difference between ‘Cursed-is-Haman,’ and ‘Blessed-is-Mordechai.” This does not mean, however, excessive drinking of wine so that one might come to levity thereby; or that he might forget the required brachot or prayer. It is sufficient to drink a little more than is his usual habit, and to take a nap. In a dozing state, viola, the person has drunk sufficiently so that he or she cannot tell the difference between the curse of Haman and the blessing of Mordecai. No need to get intoxicated. Just a touch more relaxed.
All these aspects of the Purim seuda present a challenge for a Friday afternoon as we approach Shabbat. First it’s important to prepare the house for Shabbat. A seuda certainly interferes with this cleaning and preparation process. Secondly, one is to come into Shabbat meal hungry so that it increases the “oneg”– the pleasure of Shabbat. So what does one best do? “When Purim falls on Erev Shabbat, the meal is held early, and is concluded sufficiently before Shabbat (in the morning or early afternoon) to be able to come to the Shabbat table with an appetite. There is another custom called minhag Yerushalayim, presumably because it was innovated there. The Purim feast is held mid- afternoon as usual after all the preparations for Shabbat have been made. A minyan of attendees must be invited. When Shabbat arrives, the tablecloth is changed on the table and the attendees recite the Kiddush. However they don’t say the Boreh pri Hagafen because they already have recited it for the purposes of the Seudah. They don’t recite Hamotzi because they already have! They then continue their seudat purim ino the night. When they are finished they say the grace after meals with both Purim sections and the Shabbat section, because the meal was mainly at the time of Purim, but also at the time of Shabbat. They get away with this because in Jerusalem its also Shushan Purim, which is Purim observed in a walled city! When they are done with the meal, all rise and welcome Shabbat with the Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv service.
Having said this I highly recommend a seudat purim to end in early afternoon. It is much too complicated.
What happens when Purim falls on a Friday and the walled cities like Hebron and Jerusalem observe Purim typically the next day on Shushan Purim (Shabbat!)? Do they read the megillah on Shabbat and drown out Haman’s name boisterously on Shabbat? What constitutes a walled city, in which inhabitants should generally observe Purim on Shushan Purim?
There is a lot to the question of what constitutes a walled city for the purposes of celebrating Purim on the 15th of Adar, Shushan Purim. A Talmudic argument decrees it is a city that has or had walls in the time of Joshua, the son of Nun! Why not a walled city from the time of Shushan and Achashverus? Because at that time, many of the walled cities in Israel lay in ruins from the Babylonian conquest, and that would have left may cities out. What are some of the walled cities understood from that earlier time? Hebron, Sipori, Jerusalem, Gamla, Safed, Gadera, are cities of this nature. It is questionable that Prague qualifies, but Bagdad and certainly Shushan does. Does a city devoid of Jewish life qualify? Even though presently collapsed walls still don’t disqualify a “walled city” from counting, so long as it once did in the time of Joshua, a nonexistent Jewish presence does disqualify! Which is why there was a question in 1949, when the Old City was in Jordanian hands and there were no longer resident Jews in the Jewish quarter. The rabbinic councils still ruled Western Jerusalem constituted a “walled city,” as they were visible from that walled city perch. That is, in fact, a criteria for a walled city today. If a satellite town is completely visible from the ground up from the walled city and the walled city is fully visible from that satellite town, that satellite town is included as a walled city for purpose of Shushan Purim. If it is within a mil (about a kilometer) even if sections of the city are not visible, it is also grandfathered in as a walled city. Beyond that it is a town that should observe a regular Purim. Got that?
Now that we know what constitutes a walled city, what are the Jewish inhabitants supposed to do on Shabbat shushan purim?
The solution, halachically, is that Purim is celebrated over the course of three days! On the Thurs/Fri Adar 14th, when Jews otherwise celebrate the holiday of Purim with 4 mitzvoth of Megillah, Mishteh, Matnot and Matanot–of reading megillah, having a festive meal, giving gifts to the poor, and giving gifts to friends–the Jews who are in walled city split up their mitzvoth for Purim. On Thursday night/Friday they read the Megillah and drown out Haman’s name. They also make sure to give gifts to the poor so that they can embellish their Shabbat. They don’t read the megillah on Shabbat for fear that some will carry their scrolls with them and thus break laws of carrying (since “walled” cities these days may be in ruins and still qualify and satellite towns quality too). They could have a feast on Shabbat, theoretically, but this too brings up the concern about carrying and cooking. The feast and the gifts to friends are delayed to Sunday. Why don’t the Jews in walled cities delay the reading to Sunday? After all many customs are deferred to Sunday when dates for Jewish observances fall on Shabbat (Tisha be Av, for instance, or 17th of Tammuz fast). Because when Mordechai and Esther decreed that this missive of the happenings of Purim be read each year it says, velo Yaavor, which means and it must not be passed. Therefore reading it prior is allowed but not reading it retroactive to Shushan Purim.
Hag Sameach oomvadeah, a freiliche Purim!