Purim HaMeshulash

Megillah (1:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 18 days ago

Masechet Purim opens by explaining how Purim is observed on different days in different locations. Normally, Purim is on the fourteenth of Adar. In cities that were walled in the time of Yehoshua, Purim is on the fifteenth. We also learnt that for villages, they would sometimes read earlier, on the "yom haknisa".1 The second Mishnah however mentions that if the fifteenth coincided with Shabbat, both walled and regular cites would read the megillah on the fourteenth.

The Bartenura explains that the megillah would not be read on Shabbat out of concern that one might carry it in the public domain thereby desecrating Shabbat. The megillah is not read on the Sunday, because since the megillah say "lo yaavor", the Chachamim understand that it cannot be read after the fifteenth. Consequently, it was read the day before on the fourteenth.

What about the other mitzvot? The Bartenura explains that the special Torah reading of Purim would still be read on the fifteenth (in these walled cites). Similarly, the laws of Purim are also meant to be studied on that day. The Purim seudah (meal) however is the subject of debate. Some say that it should occur on the fourteenth, the same day that the megillah is read. The Bartenura however cites the Yerushalmi that explains it is pushed off to Sunday -- and this is how the Shulchan Aruch rules (688:6). Everyone however agrees that it is not observed on Shabbat. The Yerushalmi explains that since it says, "and you shall make them days of a festive meal and celebration" it must be a meal "as established by Beit Din and not one that is dependant on Shamayim". R' Chaim explains that it must be recognisable that the meal is commemorating the miracle which would not be so on Shabbat. Considering that in such a year, the mitzvot of Purim for the residents of a walled city is spread across three day, it is referred to as a Purim HaMeshulash.

There are however even more mitzvot. The mitzvah of matanot la'evyonim is connected to when they read the megillah, which would be read on the Friday. The Gemara explains that this is because the poor people anticipate these gifts when the megillah is read. Mishloach manot however is the subject of debate. The Mishnah Berurah (688:17) explains that if the seudah is on Sunday, it follows that mishloach manot are also give on that day, since their purpose is for the seudah. He however cites that the Maharal Chaviv who argues that the Bavli maintains that mishloach manot are given on Shabbat since the seudah is also on Shabbat. The Chazon Ish (OC 154:1) cites Rashi who explains that matanot laevyonim cannot be give on Shabbat out of concerns that it would violate the prohibition of carrying. Chazon Ish reasons that the same can be said for mishloach manot also. He however understands that mishloach manot goes together, and is considered part of, matanot laevyonim. Consequently, the Chazon Ish reasons that they should be given on Friday, the day the megillah is read. He cites the Knesset HaGadol who also takes this position.

Interestingly the Pri Chadash was concerned from the opinion of the Maharal Chaviv and observed the seudat Purim on both Shabbat and Sunday. As a result, he would also ensure mishloach manot was given on both days (since he maintains the mitzvah is connected to the seudah). Rav Soloveitch (Harerei Kedem 207) however explains that there are two ways to understand the position of the Yerushalmi. Either it is a din in the seudat purim that it cannot be done on a day where the simcha is bidei shamayim. Alternatively, is a din in Shabbat itself that one cannot mix in an additional simcha. Rav Soloveitchik understands that the second understanding is correct, considering that the Yerushalmi also rules, for the same reason, one does not make a Rosh Chodesh seudah on Shabbat. He therefore argues that the Pri Chadash's solution is not sufficient since the extra seudah would conflict with a law in Shabbat itself. That being the case, one also would not be able to be machmir and give mishloach manot on Shabbat either. That is because mishloach manot is connected to the seudah and it would be prohibited to have the seudah on Shabbat. Rav Soloveitchik suggests another reason. One would not be able to give mishloach manot on Shabbat due to the concern that one might carry them in the public domain. That being the case, since mishloach manot is a kiyum in the mitzvah of seudah, and it cannot be performed, the seudah itself also cannot2.

1 We have discussed this exceptional practice, of different places observing Purim at different times, in the past. See volume 8 issue 15.

2 He cites the Meiri that brings this explanation.


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