By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
He is known as the Sar HaTorah and he will, at times, state a halacha that – although it makes perfect sense, for some reason, we just never thought of it. This halacha is one of those. Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita writes (Shoneh Halachos 695:12) that before we start the Purim Seudah, we should learn the halachos of both Purim, and believe it or not – Pesach!
The reason is that we need to learn the halachos of the Yom Tov on that day. We also need to start learning the halachos of Pesach – because it is 30 days before Pesach. AT the Seudah, we cannot really do such a good job because of the eating and drinking and then it might be too late.
So, as a public service, if you finish reading this article with 18 halachos, you will, b’ezras Hashem have fulfilled this halacha!
The Purim Seudah
- It is a Mitzvah to have a festive meal on Purim. It is during this meal that one experiences the most profound growth and escalation in our connection to HaKadosh Boruch Hu. This meal should include meat and wine.
- This meal is held during the day. If one holds it at night, he has failed to fulfill his obligation. Nevertheless, one’s evening meal should be 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, however, should be during the day.
- When Purim falls on Friday, the meal is held early, and is finished with enough time before Shabbos that one will have a good appetite for the Shabbos meal. Some, however, have the custom to extend the meal until Shabbos arrives.
- The Biur Halacha poses the question as to why drinking is a part of Purim when we find so many Psukim that show how terrible and evil getting drunk actually is. He explains that the miracles of Purim actually all occurred through wine.
- Vashti was removed from her throne because of wine.
- Haman was brought down through wine.
- The Teshuvah of Klal Yisroel involved regretting having drunk wine at the feast of Achashveirosh.
- Chazal enacted that those who truly experience growth in Avodas Hashem should drink wine on Purim. They said, “Chayav adam libsumei B’Puraya ad de lo yada bain Arur Haman u Baruch Mordechai.” The Nesivus Shalom explains this to mean that a person is obligated to become genuinely intoxicated with the notion of Purim – that is that no matter how distant we are from Hashem – Hashem is close to us. Whether throughout the year we are Boruch Mordechai or Arur Haman – Hashem wants to develop our connection with Him.
- In terms of an actual obligation, the Ramah explains that it is sufficient to drink just a little more than is his usual habit, and to take a nap. When one takes a nap the lack of consciousness creates a situation where one does not know the difference between Haman and Mordechai.
Working on Purim
- It is technically permitted to work on Purim. Nonetheless, if possible, it should be avoided. The Ramah writes (OC chapter 696) that nowadays the custom is to refrain from working on Purim. Chazal tell us that “Whoever works on Purim does not see a siman bracha from it – any sign of blessing.” This refers to work that involves making money or strenuous effort. Therefore, one may do machine laundry on Purim. One should avoid doing laundry by hand on Purim. One may therefore shave, get a haricut or cut one’s nails on Purim.
- The custom to refrain from work on Purim refers to the daytime, but not the evening, according to the Biur Halacha (written by the Chofetz Chaim).
- Work involving a Mitzvah is completely permitted.
- Eulogies and fasting are forbidden Purim. If someone is a mourner rachmana litzlan, and is in Shiva, he or she does not publicly display mourning on Purim. Mourners do not sit on the ground nor remove their shoes. Private aspects of mourning are observed, however, just like on Shabbos.
- Mourners must give Mishloach Manos but should not receive.
- It is permitted to get married on Purim and to have the wedding feast on this day as well. Although it has been a debate in the past, the Mishna Brurah permits it and writes that our custom is to allow it.
- Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes (Shoneh Halachos 695:12) that before we start the Purim Seudah, we should learn the halachos of both Purim, and believe it or not – Pesach! Rav Menachem Mendel of Vishiva brings an allusion to this from Parshas Nitzavim – The verse states, m’chotev aitzecha ad sho’ev maimecha – that the laws of drawing water (mayim shelanu for Matzah baking) must be studied from Purim – where the tree was prepared.
- Moshe Rabbeinu enacted that we must study the halachos of Pesach 30 days before it begins as well as on Pesach itself.
- A minority view (Ran and Rashba) has understood this to mean that if two students pose questions, one on Pesach laws and the other on another law, we answer the one on Pesach first — but there is no obligation to actually study the halachos 30 days before Pesach. This view has been rejected by the majority of poskim who rule that indeed we must actually study the halachos of Pesach – both 30 days before it begins as well as on Pesach itself (SA 429:1 and MB #2). There is even a view (Pnei Yehoshua Psachim 6a “V’amar Rabbi Yehudah) that the obligation of studying thirty days before the Yom Tov is actually a biblical requirement!
- The Mishna Brurah also writes (436:32) that within the thirty day period before Pesach one must be careful in anything that one does not to leave Chometz there in a manner that it will not be cleaned easily.
- When one cleans out Chometz within the thirty day period before Pesach one fulfills the Mitzvah of “Tashbisu” removing Chometz (MB 445:8). It, therefore, makes sense to do the cleaning within this time period as opposed to starting earlier because one gets a Mitzvah. According to the Pnei Yehoshua one would be fulfilling a Torah Mitzvah. If, however, it will not be possible to fully clean within the thirty days then one should start earlier.