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Purim Triple Play
By Avi Lazerson
Purim is always very special, but this year, 2005, Purim is three times special. This year for those Jews who live in walled cities, such as Jerusalem, Purim will be spread over three days. This happens because when Purim falls on the Sabbath, the rabbis forbade reading the Megillah on the Sabbath. They feared that since all have an obligation to read the Megillah, but few know how to read it properly, some one might carry his Megillah out in the public domain (in an area that was not properly enclosed) and transgress the prohibition of not carrying on the Sabbath. Therefore to avoid any possibility that some one might transgress on the Sabbath laws, the reading of the Megillah was moved one day earlier to Friday.
The Purim festive meal also can not be made on the day that Purim fell, the Sabbath, since we are commanded to have a festive meal anyway on the Sabbath. It would not be proper to have two joyous occasions commemorated with one meal. The meal was not instituted on Friday when the Megillah is to be read since that is the day that the Sabbath meal is prepared. It would cause an inconvenience in the preparation of the Sabbath meal. Therefore the meal was moved to the day after the Sabbath, Sunday.
On this year's Purim celebration, what we normally do in one day will span three days. In Hebrew it is called, "Purim MeShulaash", or a three-sided Purim.
Herein are the days and the customary activities of those days:
The above table is a quick reference guide for those who are in Jerusalem as to what to do. Below is a fuller description of each day's activities:
On Thursday, the 14th of Adar II, for all Jews, irrespective if they live in a walled city like Jerusalem or if they live in an unwalled city, the Fast of Esther is observed. This fast begins with the sunrise and ends with the sunset. There are many leniencies for the sick and for pregnant people.
Thursday night after the fast, the Megillah is read both in Jerusalem and in all other cities.
Friday is Purim for those who do not live in walled cities. Therefore the festive meal, the gifts to poor people, and sending food presents to friends are all done on Friday. Many people have the custom to have the meal in the morning so that they might have more room in their stomachs for the Sabbath meal. There are others who start their meal late (no later than a half hour before the Sabbath) and when the Sabbath begins, they place a cover over the Sabbath challahs, make kiddush and continue eating and drinking. This is called "porash mappa u'mkaddash" putting a cover on and making kiddush.
If you are drinking wine in your Purim feast, then the blessing on the wine in the kiddush is not said. There is no need to re-wash for the bread, rather the meal is continued but takes on the additional status as a Sabbath meal. An additional slice of bread should be eaten to honor the Sabbath.
If you take this option, you must pray the afternoon prayer before sitting down to eat. You may pray the evening prayer after the meal is finished. When the blessings after the meal are made, do not mention Purim (al HaNissim) but rather mention the Sabbath.
Friday for those in Jerusalem is different than that which was mentioned above. The Megillah is read both Thursday night and Friday by day. There is no festive Purim meal on Friday. However it is customary to fulfill the obligation to give charity to the impoverished (matanot le'evyonim). This is because the poor people look forward to the reading of the Megillah. They equate the reading of the Megillah to the giving of charity. We certainly do not want to disappoint them. Therefore give charity generously.
The prayer service for Friday is the normal service. We do not mention Purim (al HaNissim) in the amida (silent prayer).
On the Sabbath, which is the day of Purim for Jerusalem, an extra Torah scroll is taken out from the Holy Ark. In this second Torah scroll we read the portion of "Amalek".
When we make the blessings after eating bread and in the amida (silent prayer), we mention Purim (al HaNissim). Also it is the custom to speak about Purim, the laws and insights into the Megillah so that we should remember that today, the Sabbath, is really Purim! Many have the custom to have extra food and drinks at the Sabbath meal, since the day is really Purim.
The custom is not to wear Purim costumes on the Sabbath. There are some who send food gifts to their friends even on the Sabbath where there is an erev (enclosure of areas), but most wait until Sunday.
Sunday is the day that the special Purim festive meal is made. We wear our special garments. Since the food gifts that we send to friends (mashloach manot) are really to enhance the Purim meal, they are sent today. In addition, charity (matanot le'evyonim) is also distributed today.
The prayer services today are like those of Friday. We do not mention Purim (al HaNissim) in the amida (silent prayer) or in the blessing after bread.
Going from a walled city to a city that is not walled on Friday or visa versa presents interesting problems. If a person who lives in a city with no walls decides on Friday to travel to Jerusalem, he must continue to observe the various customs as an inhabitant of a city with no wall since at the time Purim began, he was in a un-walled city. That means that even though he is in Jerusalem now, he must have his festive Purim meal, give food presents to his friends (mashloach manot), and distribute charity (matanot le'evyonim) on Friday.
If he spends the Sabbath in Jerusalem, he must now act in accordance to the custom of Jerusalem and have another festive meal, food presents to his friends (mashloach manot), and distribute charity (matanot le'evyonim) also on Sunday even if he returns to his original home in a unwalled city immediately after the Sabbath.
If an inhabitant of Jerusalem should desire to travel to a city that has no wall on Friday, he is putting himself in a position of not fulfilling Purim properly. Since at the beginning of Purim he had a status of an inhabitant of a walled city, even though he is now in an open city, he must continue to observe the customs of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Therefore he must make his festive meal on Sunday. In regards to sending food presents to his friends (mashloach manot), he should have some one in Jerusalem give for him to his friends, since the people in the open cities are not observing Purim on Sunday, he can not discharge his obligation by giving to him.
Well as you can see, there is a lot to learn and even better, a lot to do, for this coming Purim. If you have the chance to come to Jerusalem for Purim, make certain not to miss this very special three day gala event The Three Day Purim in Jerusalem. And make certain to brush up on these very special customs.
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