The Laws of Purim - The Unique Status of a Walled City on Purim - The Laws of a Traveler on Purim
the laws of THE FESTIVALS
THE LAWS OF PURIM
In memory of Yissachar Dov Shmuel bar Yakov Yehuda Illoway
and Leah Ruth Illoway bat Natan Naso Jacobs
Shiur #16: The Laws of Purim
The Unique Status of a Walled City on Purim
The Laws of a Traveler on Purim
Rav David Brofsky
of the unique aspects of Purim relates to the different times and places in
which it is celebrated. The Megilla (chapter 9) describes how on the
thirteenth of Adar, the Jewish people gathered in their cities throughout the
the thirteenth day of the month Adar, and on the fourteenth day of the same,
they rested, and made it a day of feasting and gladness. But the Jews that were
in Shushan assembled together on the thirteenth day thereof, and on the
fourteenth thereof; and on the fifteenth day of the same they rested, and made
it a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore do the Jews of the
villages, that dwell in the UNWALLED towns, make the fourteenth day of the month
Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one
to another. And Mordekhai wrote these things, and sent letters
unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Achashveirosh, both
near and far, to enjoin them that they should keep the fourteenth
day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, the days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies, and the month
which was turned unto them from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning into a
good day; that they should make them days of feasting and gladness, and of
sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.
throughout the Empire the Jews designated the fourteenth of Adar as a day of
celebration, in Shushan, they celebrated on the fifteenth of Adar, commemorating
the day on which they rested.
the Mishna (Megilla 2a) teaches:
cities from the days of Yehoshua ben Nun read on the fifteenth, and villages and
large cities read on the fourteenth.
to the Mishna, the Rabbis instituted that not only residents of Shushan read on
the fifteenth of Adar, but residents of other walled cities should also read on
the fifteenth. The Talmud (Megilla 2b) derives this from the verses, "Therefore
do the Jews of the villages, that dwell in the unwalled towns, make the
fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day,
and of sending portions one to another..." The Megilla emphasizes that the
Jews in unwalled cities observe Purim on the fourteenth, suggesting that Jews of
walled cities observe the holiday on the fifteenth.
Yehoshua b. Korcha (Megilla 2b) asserts that only cities that were surrounded by
walls during the days of Achashveirosh read the Megilla on the fifteenth.
The Mishna, however, rules that the observance on the fifteenth is restricted to
cities that were walled already during the time of Yehoshua ben Nun, when
Benei Yisrael first conquered the
Notwithstanding the historical basis for celebrating the victory over
Haman on different days, some Rishonim note the seeming peculiarity in
the institution of a holiday which different locations celebrate on different
days. Furthermore, they questioned why the distinction is drawn between walled
and unwalled cities, and why a citys status is determined based upon its
condition at the time of Yehoshua ben Nun.
Ramban (Megilla 2a) writes that the different celebrations during the year of
the miracle do not suffice to explain why two different days were established.
Even in Shushan, he notes, the holiday should be observed on the fourteenth of
Adar, the day when the nation as a whole was spared the fate of Hamans decree.
In order to explain this unique halakhic phenomenon of two different days of
celebration, the Ramban resorts to historical and exegetical conjecture. He
explains that in response to the miracle of Purim, the Jews who resided in
villages and cities independently began to celebrate annually on the fourteenth
of Adar, as they felt most vulnerable to the threat of Achashveirosh. However,
the residents of the walled cities did not celebrate, as they had felt secure in
their fortified cities during the events of Purim, and therefore did not see
their survival as a miraculous salvation.
For this reason, the Megilla
speaks only of the celebrations instituted in the unwalled cities (Esther
9:19), and makes no mention of celebration in walled cites. Even in Shushan, the
Ramban contends, the Jews only celebrated during the first year, as the
Mordekhai and the Sages followed the lead of the inhabitants of the villages and
cities, and (basing themselves upon a Biblical precedent Megilla 7a,
Yerushalmi Megila 1:5) they instituted a holiday to commemorate the salvation of
Purim. Since these Jews had already
grown accustomed to celebrating on the fourteenth, the Rabbis established their
day of celebration on the fourteenth. In addition, they established that even
the Jews in walled cities, who felt less vulnerable to Hamans threat, should
celebrate Purim, as the Purim miracle in reality saved them, as well. These
communities, however, should celebrate on the fifteenth, the day upon which the
inhabitants of Shushan initially rested and celebrated their
Ramban continues to explain that at the time of the Purim story, the majority of
the Jewish people had already returned to
Ran (Megilla 1a) challenges the Rambans theory. Firstly, he claims that the
majority of the Jewish people still lived in
Ran therefore attributes the two days of celebration to the original events,
during which the residents of the villages and cities celebrated on the
fourteenth, while the residents of Shushan celebrated on the fifteenth. As for
the days of Yehoshua ben Nun determining the status of a city, he agrees with
the Ramban and the Talmud Yerushalmi, that this provision was enacted to avoid
embarrassing the land of Israel, which lay in ruins during the time of
the pages that follow, we will attempt to define more precisely a walled city
for the purpose of this halakha, and discuss the situation of those who
travel from a walled city to an unwalled city, and vice versa.
Definition of a Walled and Unwalled City
Rishonim disagree in defining the term kerakh "walled city" in this context.
Later scholars, and, more specifically, the Poskim of the last century,
struggled to determine whether there are "walled cities" besides Jerusalem in
Israel (such as Akko, Bet El, Tiberias, Lod, Shilo and Tzfat), or even outside
Israel (such as Damascus, Istanbul, and Prague), which must read on the
fifteenth of Adar. Indeed, there are some cities in
Talmud establishes that not only do residents of a walled city observe Purim on
the fifteenth, but residents of some "satellite" villages and towns also observe
the holiday on this date. The Gemara (Megilla 3b) teaches:
walled city - and that which is near it (samukh lo) or seen with it
(nireh imo) is akin to the walled city
Near - even though it is not
seen, or seen, even though it is not near. It makes sense that a city can be
seen even though it is not near- for example, if it sits atop a hill. However,
near yet not seen how is that possible? R. Yirmiya said: if it is situated
in the valley.
to the Gemara, a village which can be seen from, or which is close to, a walled
city reads on the fifteenth of Adar, even though it does not have a wall
Poskim discuss the specific parameters of nireh being seen
with respect to this halakha.
Rav Yechiel Michel Tukitchinsky, in his Ir Ha-kodesh
Ve-hamikdash (3:27:11), contends that one must be able to see the ground of
the village while standing on the ground of the walled city. However, if a
person in the walled city can see only the houses of the village, or can see the
ground of the village only while standing on the rooftops of the walled city,
then the village is not considered "nireh imo," and its residents observe
Purim on the fourteenth. Furthermore, even if there are trees or buildings which
obstruct one's view, or if the village can be seen from only certain parts of
the city, this suffices to render the village nireh imo. These questions, and others,
were crucial in determining whether distant neighborhoods of
villages which are deemed "samukh" (close) to a walled city, there has
been much discussion during the past one hundred years concerning the precise
definition of this term, especially as it applies to
the years between 1948 and 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem was under Jordanian
rule and there was no Jewish presence in the city. Rabbi Yitzchak Herzog (1888
1959), who served as the Chief Rabbi of
the reunification of
Gemara (Megilla 2b) teaches that a village within one mil of a walled
city should read the Megilla on the fifteenth. The Rishonim debate the question
of whether a city which can be seen from a walled city must also be within a
mil (approximately one kilometer) of that city. The Rambam (Hilkhot
Megilla 1:10) and Tur (688), for example, rule that even a city which can be
"seen with" a walled city should not read on the fifteenth if it is located
beyond 2000 amot from the walled city. By contrast, Rashi, Rabbenu
Chananel, the Ritva (in the name of his teachers), the Meiri and others
understood that even a distant village which can be seen with the walled city
reads on the fifteenth, while a village which cannot be seen with the walled
city must be within a mil of the walled city in order to read on the
fifteenth. The Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 688:1) rules in accordance with the
second opinion (see Mishna Berura 6).
the Acharonim raise the question as
to the status of a village that only part of which is near a walled city. Some (including Rav Yechiel Michel
Tukitchinsky, in his Ir Ha-kodesh Ve-hamikdash 3:27) suggest that
"samukh" refers only to houses within a "mil" of the walled city.
All the houses situated beyond a mil from the walled city, and which
cannot be seen from the walled city, would read on the fourteenth, even though
they are connected territorially to the walled city! R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin
(1888-1978), in his Moadim Ba-halakha (p. 237, note 25), expresses his
amazement that R. Tukitchinsky would each year call for residents of the
Jerusalems "New City" (the neighborhoods beyond a mil from the Old City)
to read on the fourteenth, even though common custom did not follow his view.
To this day, in R. Tukitchinskys
yeshiva, Yeshivat Etz Chayim, the Megilla is read on the fourteenth,
though by someone who lives outside of
maintain that all areas within a contiguous stretch of development from the
Who Travels To and From a Walled City on Purim
the return of the Jewish people to Israel in large numbers toward the end of the
19th century, the establishment of the State of Israel and the
reunification of Jerusalem, the once theoretical questions regarding one who
travels from a walled city to an unwalled city on Purim have taken on critical
practical importance. In turn, the Poskim have discussed this issue in
great depth. We will attempt to briefly summarize the basic laws and guidelines
relevant to this issue.
the purpose of our discussion, a person categorized here as a ben ir
(resident of an unwalled city) must read the Megilla and observe
Purim on the fourteenth of Adar, while the term ben kerakh (resident of a
walled city) refers to somebody who must observe the holiday on the fifteenth of
Mishna (Megilla 19a) establishes that a persons presence in a city, even for a
single day, can, under certain circumstances, define a person as either a ben
kerakh or ben ir:
resident of an [unwalled] city who has gone to a walled city, or [a resident] of
a walled city who has gone to an [unwalled] city: if he intends to return to his
own place, he reads according to the rules of his own place, and otherwise he
reads with the rest.
The Gemara, commenting on this Mishna, states:
Rava said: This rule applies only if he intends to return on the night of the fourteenth, but if he does not intend to return on the night of the fourteenth, he reads with the rest.
said: From where do I derive this ruling? For it is written: "Therefore do the
Jews of the unwalled cities that dwell in the unwalled cities" (Esther 9:19).
Since it is written, "the Jews of the unwalled cities," why then should it be
further written, "that dwell in the unwalled cities"? THIS TEACHES THAT ONE WHO
IS A RESIDENT OF AN UNWALLED CITY FOR ONE DAY IS CALLED A RESIDENT OF AN
UNWALLED CITY. We have proved this for the resident of an unwalled city. How do
we know that it applies also to residents of a walled city? It is reasonable to
suppose that since a resident of an unwalled city for one day is called a
resident of an unwalled city, A RESIDENT OF A WALLED CITY FOR ONE DAY IS CALLED
A RESIDENT OF A WALLED CITY.
comments address only the situation of a resident of a walled city who travels
to an unwalled city, whose status is determined by his location on "the night of
the fourteenth meaning, when the night ends, in the morning of the
fourteenth. Rava does not, however, address the opposite case, of one who
travels from an unwalled city to a walled city. Does the morning of the
fourteenth determine his status, as well, or is his status determined by his
location on the morning of the fifteenth?
question raised by the commentators relates to the condition that one "INTENDS
to return to his own place." The Talmud does not clarify the role of
"intention," and whether one's intention determines his status even if he
ultimately acts differently.
Additionally, the Gemara does not discuss the fascinating question of
whether one could theoretically be obligated to observe Purim on both days, or
not at all, by traveling from one kind of city to the other.
Regarding the situation of one who travels from a walled city to an unwalled city, Rashi (s.v. shanu) writes:
They only taught that the resident of a walled city (ben kerakh) who went to an unwalled city and intends to return to his place (i.e. the walled city) reads on the fifteenth and not on the fourteenth. The same applies regarding the resident of an unwalled city (ben ir) who went to a walled city. If he plans to return on the night of the fifteenth so that he will not be there (in the walled city) on the day of the fifteenth, he is not regarded as being a resident of a walled city for the day, and so he reads on the fourteenth in accordance with the obligation of his city.
Rashi explains that the while the ones location at sunrise on the morning of the fourteenth determines whether he reads in the unwalled city or not, ones location at sunrise of the morning of the fifteenth determines whether he must read on the fifteenth, on Shushan Purim.
The Rosh (2:3), explaining Rashi, writes:
He did not wish to interpret Ravas words as referring also to a resident of an unwalled city who went to a walled city, because it does not stand to reason that if he is in a walled city on the fourteenth, he is governed by the obligation of [Megilla] reading of a walled city, and so he must remain there on the fifteenth and read with them Inasmuch as the time of reading of walled cities has not yet arrived, why should their obligation of [Megilla] reading apply to him?
The Rif (6a, as understood by the Ran), Ramban (Rif; 6a), Ritva (Megilla
19a), Riaz (
The Rosh himself, however, and the Tur (688), disagree, and maintain that
the morning of the fourteenth determines everyones status, regardless of the
situation. If one wakes up outside a walled city on the morning of the
fourteenth, then he must read the Megilla on that day. However, if one rises in
However, the wording of the Gemara implies that Rava refers to the entire Mishna, and this is indeed proven in the Yerushalmi. Ravas words can be applied to the entire Mishna: Just as the resident of a walled city is regarded as a resident of an unwalled city if he is there on the night and part of the day of the fourteenth, which is the time when residents of the unwalled city read [the Megilla], and he becomes bound by their obligation, similarly, a resident of an unwalled city who went to a walled city and is there for part of the day of the fourteenth since at the time when residents of his city are obligated to read [the Megilla] he is not there with them, he is no longer bound by the obligation to read [the Megilla] as it applies to the residents of his city
To summarize, while Rashi maintains that ones status is determined by his location at dawn on the fourteenth and the fifteenth, the Rosh maintains that the morning of the fourteenth determines where should read, either on the fourteenth or fifteenth.
conceptual issue underlies this debate between Rashi and the Rosh? Seemingly,
Rashi believes, very simply, that ones location on the morning of his Purim, on
the fourteenth or the fifteenth, determines his status. The Rosh likely believes
that even for the residents of walled cities, the fourteenth is still considered
Purim, even if practically they observe the holiday on the next day. Said
differently, a ben kerakh, according to the Rosh, would omit
tachanun on the fourteenth of Adar not merely as a sign of identification
with his brethren in unwalled cities who observe Purim that day, but rather
because for the ben kerakh, too, that day is, fundamentally, Purim
The Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 688:5) follows Rashis view that the
status of a ben kerakh is determined by his location on the morning of
the fifteenth, and the Mishna Berura (12) and most other Acharonim
A second question concerns the role played by ones intention with regard
to this halakha. The
Rishonim address the situation of a resident of a walled city who visits
an unwalled city on the fourteenth intending to return to his walled city before
morning, but was delayed and remained in the unwalled city. Must he celebrate Purim on the
fourteenth, in accordance with his location on the morning of the fourteenth, or
on the fifteenth, as he had intended to be in a walled city on the morning of
and the Ba'al Ha-Maor (
those who recognize the importance of intention, we find a debate as to whether
the determining factor is ones intention upon leaving home (
Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 688:5) rules:
A resident of an unwalled city who travels to a walled city, or a resident of a walled city who travels to an unwalled city if his intention was to return to his place by the time of the reading [of the Megilla], and he was delayed and didnt return, then he reads in his place. [Similarly,] if he did not have in mind to return until after the time of the [Megilla] reading, he should read with the people of the place in which he is found.
Mishna Berura (12) explains that the Shulchan Arukh accepts
Rashis view, that the critical moment which determines one's obligation is the
morning of the fourteenth for a ben ir, and the morning of the fifteenth
for a ben kerakh. Furthermore, the Mishna Berura adds, the
Shulchan Arukh follows the view of the
the sake of being comprehensive, we should mention that the Chazon Ish
adds one important condition to this halakha, namely, that ones
intention is significant only if he is already in that new location at nightfall
(tzeit ha-kokhavim) of the fourteenth or fifteenth. If, however, a
resident of a walled city is in his walled city for the beginning of the
evening, and then, at some point that evening, he travels to an unwalled city
and stays there into the morning, he still reads the Megilla on the
fifteenth, since he began the day in his walled city! Most authorities, however,
disagree, and rule in accordance with the Mishna Berura, who implies that
the location where one intends to be the morning of the fourteenth or fifteenth
determines his status, regardless of where he began the night. )
of the Laws of a Traveler
I hope we demonstrated with great clarity, the halakhot of a traveler on
Purim are extremely complex and confusing! Indeed, a cursory perusal of the
responsa literature and contemporary halakhic compendiums reveals numerous
different approaches and conclusions which can leave the reader
based upon what we have seen, we can succinctly summarize the basic
a resident of
the traveler intends to return to
the converse case, if an Alon Shevut resident travels to
it possible for one to become obligated in BOTH days of Purim? In other words,
if one leaves Alon Shevut after dawn on the fourteenth of Adar and plans to stay
in Jerusalem until after dawn the following day, should he observe two days of
Purim? Seemingly, according to the Rosh (cited above), one can only incur one
obligation, depending on his location on the morning of the fourteenth.
According to Rashi, however, could such a person be obligated on both
Talmud Yerushalmi (Megilla 2:3) teaches that one who "uproots his residency"
(akar dirato) can be obligated to observe two days of Purim, or be exempt
from Purim altogether, depending on whether he moves to or from a walled
city. On the basis of this passage
in the Talmud Yerushalmi, R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchat Shelomo
1:23:4) contends that a traveler can indeed be obligated to celebrate Purim
twice. However, some authorities recommend in such a case that one hears the
berakhot on the Megilla from somebody else on the second day,
rather than reciting them himself.
contrast, R. Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi, O.C. 2:118-9) understands the
Yerushalmis comment as referring only to those who move residences permanently,
and not to travelers, and thus it would not apply to the case described
above. Moreover, R. Frank claims
that the Talmudic dictum, "a resident of a walled city for one day is called a
resident of a walled city" is limited in scope and application, and it only
applies to one who has yet to hear the Megilla is his own home town.
However, one who visits a village on the fourteenth, and returns to his home in
a wall city for the fifteenth, would indeed read again on the fifteenth, as that
is where he really lives.
can one be completely exempt from both days of Purim? For example, if a
should be noted that in any situation where ones obligation is in doubt, he
should not read the Megilla on behalf of others who are clearly obligated
to observe Purim that day.
Next week we will discuss the obligation and specific halakhot of the Megilla reading..