Ben Ir ShHalach Le'Krach

Megillah (2:3) | Yisrael Bankier | 4 years ago

We have learnt previously that the day on which Purim is celebrated depends on where one lives. Residents of a city that was walled during the time of Yehoshua bin Nun (ben krach) read the megillah on the fifteenth of Adar, while everyone else (ben ir) reads on the fourteenth. The Mishnah (2:3) addresses the case where a resident of one visits the other and explains when they should read megillah.

The Mishnah explains: "if he will return to his place in the future, he reads like his place, if not, he reads with them". The question of timing is not clear from the Mishnah, so the Gemara (19a) elaborates. Rava explains that he only reads like the city he came from, if he leaves on the night of the fourteenth. If however he would be in the city on the day of the fourteenth, then he is treated like everyone else in the host city. It is not immediately clear which case Rava is referring to; a point debated by the Rishonim.

Rashi explains that Rava is referring to the case of a ben krach that is visiting an open city. As long as he leaves before the day of the fourteenth, then his status does not change. If however he will be in the city at the time when the obligation for those in the city begins, he is, for that year, defined as a ben ir.

Rava continues that this law is based on superfluous language used when describing the obligation of a ben ir: "…therefore the Jews of an open city that dwell in open cities..". From the addition of the "that dwell in open cities", Rava learns that one can be defined as a ben ir, even just for a day.

What about the case of a ben ir that visits a wall city? Rashi explains that the same logic applies. In other words, if he intends to be in walled city on the morning of the fifteenth, at the time when his hosts will be obligated, then he is defined as a ben krach and should read on the fifteenth. If however he intends to return home on the night of the fifteenth, then he would read the megillah on the fourteenth, even if he is in the walled city at that time. In summary, according to Rashi, for a traveller to be defined as a resident of another city, it would depend on whether he will be in the city the morning that the resident of the host city are obligated to read megillah.

The Rosh however understands that Rava is referring to both cases. In other words, how one is defined depends on where they will be on the morning of the fourteenth. To be clear, this is also the case for a ben ir that is visiting a walled city. The Raavad explains that since the concept that a visitor can have the status of the city is visiting is learnt from the verse that refers to an open city specifically, it is the morning of the fourteenth, that is the critical time for everyone.

Rav Soleveitchik (Harerei Kedem 189) connects this debate with another one. The Ramban addresses the question of why Purim is celebrated on two different days. The Ramban explains that at the time of the miracle, the Jews in the open cities were placed in greater danger. When they were saved they celebrated the miracle, as did the Jews in Shushan; each celebrating on the day the battle ended. The following year, it was the Jews of the open cities that celebrated the miracle due to the great danger they were in. It was only later, when the festival was established for generations, that they established a unique day for the residents of the open cities, as they lead the way in initiating this mitzvah. The Rav comments that according to the Ramban, we find the main day is the fourteenth.

The Rav contrasts this understanding with the Rambam. The Rambam explains that the reason why we assess which city is considered a walls city by its status at the time of Yehuoshua bin Nun is to give honour to Eretz Yisrael, since at the time of Purim miracle the cities in Eretz Yisrael were destroyed. The Rav comments that it appears that according to the Rambam the fifteenth in the main days, since it is considered an honour for an Israeli city to be defined as a walled city for Purim.

Returning now to our Mishnah. The Rav explains that Rashi is in line with the opinion of the Rambam. Since the fifteenth is the main day, for one to be defined as ben kerach it depends on where he intends to be on the fifteenth. The Rosh however understands like the Ramban that the main day is the fourteenth. This explains then why one's status, whether ben ir or ben krach, depends one where he intends to be on the morning of the fourteenth.

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