This Shabbat is a day of transition from the lingering joy of Purim to the season of Pesach. Rashi z”l states (in his commentary to Ta’anit 29a) that the famous expression, “When the month of Adar arrives, we increase our joy,” alludes not only to the joy of Purim, but also to Pesach. Indeed, just as we read in Megillat Esther (8:16), “The Jews had light and sasson / gladness and simcha / joy . . . ,” so we recite in kiddush on the night of Pesach that Hashem has given us the festivals for “simcha and sasson.”
What is this joy? R’ Shalom Schwadron z”l (1912-1997; the Yerushalmi Maggid made famous by the “Maggid Speaks” book series) relates that an acquaintance once gave him a check for $5,000 to be distributed to charity. At first, said R’ Schwadron, my joy knew no bounds. But, after several hours, that initial exhilaration had worn off. I felt no happier than a millionaire feels when he holds $50,000 in his hands.
It is incumbent upon us to know that this is not how we should feel about spiritual pleasures such as the joy of Torah and love and awe of G-d. King David says in Tehilim (119:162), “I rejoice over Your words like one who finds a great treasure.” King David always felt about mitzvot the way one feels at the first moment after finding a great treasure. His joy did not diminish over time.
This is how a Jew’s joy at serving Hashem must be: a joy that constantly renews itself. (Haggadah Shel Pesach R’ Shalom p.32)
“Gather the entire assembly to the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed / Tent of Meeting.” (Vayikra 8:3)
Miraculously, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people were able to gather at the entrance to the Ohel Mo’ed, a space that was approximately 40 feet wide. As Rashi z”l comments: “This is one of the instances where the lesser held within it the greater.”
R’ Yerucham Levovitz z”l (mashgiach ruchani of the Mir Yeshiva; died 1936) explains Rashi’s comment. The midrash which Rashi quotes does not mean that a large group of people crowded into a small space. Rather, the miracle that occurred was that the space was not small. Indeed, space is meaningless to G-d. As the Gemara (Ta’anit 25a) says in another context, “He who said that oil should burn and give light can just as well make vinegar burn and give light.” He who said that 600,000 people can fit comfortably in a large space can just as easily make 600,000 people fit comfortably in a “small” space. (Da’at Torah p.37)
“Moshe took the breast [of the ram] and waved it as a wave-service before Hashem; from the ram of the dedication it was a portion for Moshe, as Hashem had commanded Moshe.” (Vayikra 8:29)
R’ Akiva Yosef Schlesinger z”l (1835-1922; rabbi in Hungary and Yerushalayim) asks regarding the phrase: “it was a portion for Moshe” – did Moshe, who three times went without food or drink for 40 days, consider such a large piece of meat to be a “portion”?
He answers: It was Moshe’s love of mitzvot that made him eager to eat from the sacrifice. In a related vein, we find that kohanim in the Bet Hamikdash often received only very small morsels from the sacrifices (see Pesachim 3b), yet they eagerly recited blessings over those pieces. Likewise, we recite blessings over matzah and maror [which may not be particularly appetizing] because they are mitzvot. And, over the korban Pesach, from which each person receives only k’zayit / a small share the size of an olive, we will even recite Hallel / songs of praise to G-d. (Torat Yechiel)
“Purim Meshulash” (The Three-Day Purim)
As readers know, Jews in Yerushalayim and other cities that were walled at the time of Bnei Yisrael’s first conquest of the Land observe Purim one day later than the holiday is observed in most communities. That day is known as “Shushan Purim.” When Shushan Purim falls on Shabbat, as it does this year, those same communities observe what is known as “Purim Meshulash” / a three-day Purim.
Observing Purim Meshulash means dividing the mitzvot of Purim – megillah reading, matanot l’evyonim / gifts for the poor, Torah-reading, mishloach manot, and the Purim seudah / feast – over a three day period: Friday, Shabbat and Sunday. Below we present a summary of how this is done. For ease of reference, we will refer to all cities that observe Purim Meshulash as “Yerushalayim.” (Please note that this summary is intended to familiarize readers in the Diaspora with the general parameters of the observance and should not be relied on in practice due to the complexity of the customs involved.) Unless stated otherwise, these laws are taken from Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim chapter 685, paragraph 6 and the commentary of the Mishnah Berurah there. References to the views of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z”l (1910-1995) are from the work Halichot Shlomo: Moadim chapter 21.
When the 15th of Adar falls on Shabbat – note that the 14th of Adar, the day of Purim, never falls on Shabbat – the megillah is read even in Yerushalayim on Friday the 14th. The reason is that the Sages did not want the megillah read on Shabbat lest someone carry it in a place where there is no eruv. [This is the same reason why we do not blow shofar or take the lulav on Shabbat.] R’ Auerbach states that one who is in Yerushalayim should take extra care to hear the megillah in the presence of a minyan and even women (in Yerushalayim) who ordinarily do not go to shul on Purim, but rather have the megillah read at home, should make an effort to go to shul this year.
Matanot l’evyonim are collected and distributed on Friday as well. (R’ Auerbach adds that when one recites the blessing She’he’cheyanu over the megillah-reading on Friday, he should have in mind that it refers also to the mitzvot that will be performed on Sunday.)
One is permitted to get married on Friday, the 14th of Adar, and R’ Auerbach himself was married on that day.
On Shabbat, two Torah scrolls are taken out. (Outside Yerushalayim, only one Torah scroll will be taken out this Shabbat.) The weekly parashah is read from one scroll and the Torah-reading for Purim (Shmot 17:8-16) is read from the second scroll. The haftarah is from Shmuel I chapter 15, which is the same haftarah that was read last Shabbat in honor of Parashat Zachor. (Communities outside Yerushalayim read the regular haftarah for Parashat Tzav.) In lieu of reading the megillah, one should study the laws of Purim on Shabbat in order to recall that the day is, in fact, the 15th of Adar.
R’ Auerbach states that if one neglected to give matanot l’evyonim on Friday, he may do so on Shabbat by distributing food to the poor.
“Al Ha’nissim,” the paragraph that is added into Shemoneh Esrei in honor of Purim, is recited in Yerushalayim on Shabbat only. However, if one did recite Al Ha’nissim on Friday, he does not need to repeat Shemoneh Esrei.
The Purim seudah is not eaten until Sunday. Some authorities say it should be eaten on Shabbat. R’ Auerbach states that the prevalent custom is not to eat an extra meal on Shabbat but to add a dish on Shabbat in honor of Purim.
On whichever day the seudah is eaten, one will also give mishloach manot (since one of the purposes of mishloach manot is to provide food for the seudah). R’ Auerbach used to discretely give mishloach manot on Shabbat as well.
Some say that the megillah is muktzeh on Shabbat, but others disagree.
According to R’ Auerbach, tachanun is not recited on Sunday, the sixteenth of Adar, in any community.
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