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Laws of Purim

OVERVIEW OF THE LAWS OF PURIM

Purim has four main Mitzvot:

  1. The Reading of the Megillah (Mikra Megillah)
  2. The Festive Purim Meal (Seudat Purim)
  3. Sending Gifts (Mishloach Manot)
  4. Gifts to the poor (Matanot l’Evyonim)

 

In addition, the Torah portion of ‘and Amalek came’ is read Purim morning, and Al-Hanisim is added to the Shmoneh Esray and Birkat HaMazon. Hallel is not, however, said on Purim; the Megillah reading being regarded as the Hallel of the day.

It is legally permissible to work on Purim, but is nevertheless not considered proper. The Sages have said: ‘Whoever works on the day of Purim does not see any sign of blessing (through his work).’ The type of work that is referred to is work which results in profit. Work involving a Mitzvah, however, or work for the sake of Purim, is fully permitted.

 

The Reading of the Megillah

One is required to read the Megillah at night, and then again during the day. The most preferred manner of fulfilling the Mitzvah is to read the Megillah publicly, and in the Synagogue, since, ‘In a multitude there is Majesty;’ and the miracle is made known more widely.

Reading. The only Mitzvah which is not deferred by the Reading of the Megillah. Even the study of the Torah is suspended for the MegillahPositive Torah commandments are all deferred for the sake of hearing the Megillah, is the Mitzvah of providing burial for a dead person, when there is no one else available to do so.

If one hears the Megillah read, he fulfills the obligation as if he were to read it himself; provided that the Reader is himself obligated to perform Mitzvot. It is, however, necessary to hear every single word, for if one has not heard the entire Megillah, he has not fulfilled his obligation.

 

The Brachot of the Megillah

The reader of the Megillah recites three brachot prior to the reading, and one afterwards, and he should intend to fulfill the obligation of the congregation. The congregation answers ‘Amen,’ and they should likewise intend to fulfill the Mitzvah. They do not say ‘Baruch Hu u’varuch Shemo’ – in order not to interrupt in the middle of the brachah.

The brachot preceding the Megillah-Reading are said before the reading of the Megillah by day as well; except that in saying ‘Shehecheyanu,’ ['Who kept us alive'], the Reader should intend to apply his ‘brachah’ to the other Mitzvot of the day – the Purim Feast, the Sending of Gifts, the Giving of Gifts to the Poor.

If one has already fulfilled the obligation of reading the Megillah, and he wishes to read it a second time publicly for the sake of others, he recites all the ‘brachot’ beginning and end. If one reads the Megillah for another individual, he recites only the first brachot. And if the individual knows the brachot well, he says them himself.

 

The Festive Purim Meal - Seudat Purim

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 Mincha. The meal is extended into the night. Most of the meal should, however, be during the day.

When Purim falls on Erev Shabbat, the meal is held early, and is concluded sufficiently before Shabbat for one to be able to partake of the Shabbat meal with a good appetite. Some follow the practice of extending their meal till Shabbat arrives. They then place a Shabbat tablecloth on the table, recite Kiddush, and continue their meal.

 

Mishloach Manot - The Sending of Gifts to One Another

It is obligatory to send a gift which consists of at least two ‘portions’ to another person. Both men and women are included in this Mitzvah.

Only what is edible or drinkable without further cooking or preparation, is considered a ‘portion.’ One may therefore, send cooked meats or fish, pastry goods, fruit, sweets, wine and other beverages.

Even a poor person is required to fulfill the Mitzvah of ‘Mishloach Manot.’ If one is unable to do so directly, he may exchange his own food for that of his friend; both of whom would thus fulfill their obligations.

The Mitzvah of Mishloach Manot should be performed by day (for more information, see below).

 

Gifts to the Poor - Matanot l’Evyonim

In the Megillah (9:22), where the Mitzvot of Purim are listed, this one is listed last. However, providing monetary support for the poor is probably the most important of all the Mitzvot of Purim.

There is a prophetic precept to give at least two gifts to two poor people on Purim; that is, one gift to each. And even a poor person who himself must ask for Charity, is required to do so. This obligation is fulfilled through any type of gift; whether of money, of food or drink, or even of clothing. One should, however, try to give a substantial gift.

. If one sets aside a tithe, ten percent, from his income for Charity, these gifts should not be included in that amount. If, however, he gives some slight sum from his own funds and wants to add his Reading-of-the-MegillahThese gifts should be given by day. It is proper to give the gifts to the poor after the tithe, he may do so.

The gifts should be given in sufficient time for the poor to utilize them during Purim – and for their Purim meals. The poor person may do as he wishes with the gifts, however.

One is not strict with the poor on Purim in determining whether they are needy or not. Whoever puts out his hand is to be given a gift. If one fails to find poor persons in his place, he sets the intended gifts aside until he encounters poor people. Women are also obligated to give gifts to the poor on Purim.

Fri, March 5 2021 21 Adar 5781