A Resident of an Unwalled City Who Went to a Walled City and a Resident of a Walled City Who Went to an Unwalled City

  • Harav Yehuda Amital

Based on a shiur by Harav Yehuda Amital zt"l 

            The distinction between walled cities and unwalled cities that is unique to Purim raises the complicated question regarding a person who travels on Purim from a walled city to an unwalled city or vice versa. This article will deal with the foundations of the laws governing this issue.

 

            In this article we will deal primarily with the situation in which a person, whether fundamentally a resident of an unwalled city or a resident of a walled city, finds himself in an unwalled city on the fourteenth of Adar and reads the megila there, and then on the fifteenth travels to a walled city. The question arises whether he must read the megila there a second time.

 

            The talmudic passage dealing with this case is found in tractate Megila 19a. The Mishna states:

 

A resident of an [unwalled] city who has gone to a walled city, or of an unwalled city who has gone to an [unwalled] city, if he intends to return to his own place, reads according to the rules of his own place, and otherwise reads with the rest.

 

            The Gemara 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 mean to return on the night of the fourteenth, he reads with the rest.

 

            The Mishna speaks about "intending to return," and the question arises when is the person planning to return? Rava supplies an answer to this question.

 

            The Mishna has two parts. The first part deals with the resident of an unwalled city who went to a walled city, and the second part deals with the resident of a walled city who went to an unwalled city. To which part of the Mishna do the words of Rava refer? Only to the second part? Only to the first part? Or perhaps to both parts?

 

Rashi explains (s.v. lo shanu):

 

They only taught that the resident of a walled city who went to an unwalled city and intends to return to his place reads on the fifteenth and not on the fourteenth.

 

            Rashi, like most Rishonim, understands that the words of Rava refer to the second part of the Mishna which deals with the resident of a walled city who went to an unwalled city. According to Rava, the Mishna's law only applies if he returns to the walled city on the night of the fourteenth, that is to say, if he will not find himself in the unwalled city on the morning of the fourteenth.

 

What about the reverse case? Rashi continues:

 

The same applies regarding the resident of an unwalled city who went to a walled city. If he plans to return on the night of the fifteenth so that he will not be there 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 logically speaking the same law should apply to the resident of an unwalled city who went to a walled city – that if he plans to return to the unwalled city by the morning of the fifteenth, he is not obligated to read the megila on the fifteenth.

 

This is also the implication of the Gemara in the continuation of the passage:

 

Rava 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.

 

            The Rosh explains why Rashi understands that the words of Rava refer only to the first part of the Mishna:

 

He did not want to interpret the words of Rava 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 [megila] 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 [megila] reading apply to him?

 

The Rosh himself does not agree with this reasoning. He maintains, in accordance with the plain meaning of the Gemara, that the words of Rava refer to the entire Mishna:

 

However, the wording of the Gemara implies that Rava refers to the entire Mishna, and so too is it proven in the Yerushalmi. The words of Rava 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 that the residents of the unwalled city read [the megila], and he becomes bound by their obligation – so too 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 that the residents of his city are obligated to read [the megila] he is not there with them, he is no longer bound by the obligation to read [the megila] applying to the residents of his city…

 

            According to the Rosh, the critical factor is the morning of the fourteenth. That is to say, if on the morning of the fourteenth, a resident of an unwalled city finds himself in a walled city, he becomes bound by the obligation to read the megila on the fifteenth.

 

            This position is also that of the Ra'avad and the Tur, but the Halakha has been decided in accordance with the position of Rashi and most Rishonim that the resident of a walled city who plans to return to the walled city on the night of the fifteenth reads the megila only on the fifteenth.

 

            What is the law governing a person who was in an unwalled city on the fourteenth, read the megila on that day, and then on the night of the fifteenth went to a walled city?

 

            The Gemara in Megila (ad loc.) states later in the passage:

 

Rava also said: A villager who has gone to an unwalled city reads with the rest in any case. What is the reason? By right he ought to read at the same time as the residents of the unwalled city, and it is the Rabbis who made a concession to the villagers so that they might supply food and drink to their brethren in the large cities.

 

            A villager has the status of the resident of an unwalled city, except that the Sages were lenient in his regard for side reasons. Thus, if he is in an unwalled city on the fourteenth, he must read together with the residents of that city, in accordance with his basic obligation.

 

            What is the law if that person already read the megila on the yom ha-kenisa (the Monday or Thursday preceding the fourteenth), and on the fourteenth he was in an unwalled city? Must he read the megila a second time?

 

            Rashi explains the Gemara's question as follows:

 

A villager who read [the megila] on the yom ha-kenisa, and then went to an unwalled city, and was there on the night of the fourteenth.

 

            According to Rashi, this is the case that the Gemara is discussing, and indeed that villager must read the megila a second time on the fourteenth. The Tosafot (s.v. ben kefar) raise an objection against the view of Rashi:

 

It is difficult: Why should he read [the megila] twice? Nevertheless, it appears that Rashi explained [the Gemara] in a fine manner… For that which we say that villagers advance their reading to the yom ha-kenisa… that is only when they are not there on the night of the fourteenth, but only come there on the day of the fourteenth. But when they are there on the night of the fourteenth, they are certainly governed by the laws of the residents of unwalled cities, even though they have already read [the megila].

 

            As we explained above, a villager has the same status as the residents of unwalled cities, and it is only for that reason that if a villager is in an unwalled city on the fourteenth, he must read with them despite the fact that he had already read the megila. In general, however, the Tosafot maintain that there is no logical reason to require a person to read the megila twice.

 

            As opposed to the position of the Tosafot, the Ramban, the Ritva, and other Rishonim cite the Yerushalmi that states that a resident of an unwalled city who "uprooted his residence" from an unwalled city to a walled city on the night of the fifteenth, is required to read the megila twice, and all the more so is this true regarding the resident of a walled city who returns to his city on the night of the fifteenth.

 

            Indeed, it may be argued that the Tosafot would agree to this, and the objection that they raised was limited to the double reading as a villager and as a resident of an unwalled city. They might agree, however, that if a person is found first in an unwalled city and then in a walled city, he must read the megila twice. The Ritva, in any event, writes that he disagrees with the Tosafot.

 

Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank maintains that this issue must be examined in light of the question what the law should have been were it not for the special law derived from the verse, "Therefore the Jews of the unwalled cities" (Esther 9:19).

 

Were it not for this special law, we would follow the ordinary rules governing local custom. Thus, if a person were found outside of his own community, and he plans to return to his place of residence, he should follow the customs of the place from which he came, both when it involves a stringency and when it involves a leniency. Here enters the special law regarding Purim that a resident of an unwalled city for a single day is called a resident of an unwalled city, and so too regarding a resident of a walled city. Therefore, all we have is this novel law, and we should limit this novelty to the case where the person has not yet read the megila. That is to say, a person who lives outside of Jerusalem and read on the fourteenth, should not be required to read the megila a second time on the fifteenth, even if he traveled to Jerusalem on the night of the fifteenth, and it was his intention to remain there until the morning. In contrast, according to Rav Frank, following the Ritva's understanding of the Yerushalmi, a person who "uproots his residence" – that is to say, moves from an unwalled city to a walled city – is regarded as the resident of a walled city by basic law, and is therefore required to read the megila a second time, even without the special law derived from the verse. And similarly, if a person lives in Jerusalem, but was in an unwalled city on the fourteenth, read the megila there, and then returned to Jerusalem, he must read the megila again, for now he is obligated by his basic law (he being a resident of Jerusalem), and not because of the special teaching of the verse.

 

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach disagrees with Rav Frank and maintains that in all cases he must read the megila a second time. Why? Because Rav Auerbach does not accept Rav Frank's understanding of the Yerushalmi that "uprooting one's residence" means moving. According to him, "uprooting one's residence" refers to a day trip, rather than a move. According to this, the Yerushalmi rules that a person who travels for one day only is obligated in two megila readings, based on the special law of "a resident of an unwalled city for a day."

 

Rav Auerbach also rejects Rav Frank's assumption that the novelty of the law derived from "Jews of unwalled cities" is that a person must observe Purim in accordance with the custom of the place in which he is found for the day.

 

Is it so clear that were it not for the special law, everyone would read the megila in accordance with the practice of his hometown, even if he is found in a different location? Rav Auerbach understands just the opposite: Regarding laws dependent upon place, a person must act in accordance with the practice of the place in which he currently finds himself. Parallel to this idea, the Chakham Tzvi rules that a Diaspora Jew who arrives in Eretz Israel does not observe a second day of Yom Tov as is observed outside Eretz Israel, because the law of "giving him the stringencies of the place from which he came" only applies in a situation where were that person's entire community to come to Eretz Israel, that stringency would still remain in place. But the fact that such a move would cause the stringency to disappear implies that the critical factor is the place in which the person is currently found, and therefore there is no need to observe the stringencies of the place from which he came. Regarding the second day of Yom Tov, if everyone would return to Eretz Israel, they would certainly not observe a second day of Yom Tov, and therefore a Diaspora Jew who is in Eretz Israel also should not observe a second day of Yom Tov.

 

This ruling, however, was never accepted, because of a side concern that it would lead to a devaluation of Yom Tov. (According to this, we can understand the ruling of R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik to observe "a day and a half" of Yom Tov, that is to say, to observe only the prohibitions imposed by the day, but not the positive commandments, so as not to lead to a devaluation of Yom Tov.)

 

According to this principle, it may be argued that regarding megila reading – as is the case with the second day of Yom Tov according to the Chakham Tzvi - the critical factor is the place, and if everybody were in a walled city, they would all celebrate Purim on the fifteenth. Therefore, we apply to a person the stringencies of the place in which he is currently found, so that even if he already read on the fourteenth, if he finds himself in Jerusalem on the fifteenth, he must read the megila a second time.

 

According to Rav Auerbach, then, what is taught by the verse? The verse teaches that indeed the basic law depends upon the place, but the critical time is the morning, that is to say, a person who is found on the morning of the fourteenth in an unwalled city is called a resident of an unwalled city that entire day, even if goes to Jerusalem during the middle of the day. Therefore, according to Rav Auerbach, someone who fulfilled the mitzva of Purim in an unwalled city on the fourteenth, and went to Jerusalem on the night of the fifteenth with the intention of remaining there until the morning, is obligated to read the megila once again as a resident of Jerusalem.

 

What is the law governing a resident of Jerusalem who finds himself on the fourteenth in an unwalled city, and returns to Jerusalem for a few hours on the night of the fifteenth, but does not remain there until the morning?

 

The law applying in such a case is the subject of a dispute between the Chazon Ish and Rav Auerbach. The Chazon Ish understands that in such a case the person must read on the fifteenth as well, whereas according to Rav Auerbach, he is under no such obligation.

 

In practice, a resident of Jerusalem who goes home on the night of the fifteenth is certainly required to read the megila a second time even according to the position of Rav Frank.

 

As for a person who is not a resident of Jerusalem, there are opinions that require him to read the megila a second time. However, the Chazon Ish writes that he should read the megila without reciting a blessing. In any event, someone who wishes to rely on the view of Rav Frank - who was the rabbi of Jerusalem - and not read the megila a second time, has a solid authority upon whom to rely.

 

Happy Purim!

*This article was not reviewed by HaRav Amital.

(Translated by David Strauss)