Purim M'Shulash and a lot more...
The following is written from a Yerusalayim perspective, but contains much material of practical value to "out-of-towners" as well. And, although the focus of this piece is Purim M'shulash, there is much that applies in all years.
In our fixed calendar, Purim (14 Adar) cannot fall on Shabbat. Shushan Purim can, and does this year.
Purim M'shulash occurs with a frequency of 11%, but its occurrences are not evenly distributed. In the current century (i.e. the 58th since Creation), we've had 8 so far, plus this year and 2 more scheduled, making 11 in 100 years - just about average. But look at the gaps: [20 yrs] 5710,  5714,  5734,  5737,  5741,  5754,  5761,  5765,  5768, ( 5781,  5785, ).
[Whenever J'lem-Purim is Shabbat, so will Erev Pesach be. Another complex halachic issue.]
In Jerusalem, when the 15th of Adar is Shabbat, some of Purim's practices are preponed (pulled back) to Friday, some are done on Shabbat, and some are postponed until Sunday. Hence the term Purim M'shulash, Triple Purim.
The basic, essential aspects of Purim M'shulash are relatively simple, and are as follows:
Taanit Esther is always the same everywhere. This year, we in Jerusalem read Megila at the end of the fast, rather than on the following night.
Megila reading is on Thursday night and Friday (like the rest of the world).
Matanot LaEvyonim (gifts to the poor) are also to be given on Friday, to allow poor people to prepare comfortably for Shabbat and for the Purim Seuda (on Sunday) and not to "disappoint" them, since when they hear Megila, they anticipate receiving Matanot LaEvyonim.
On Shabbat, in Jerusalem, we say Al HaNisim in every Amida & "benching".
On Shabbat, we read the Torah reading for Purim. This is done in a second Sefer Torah, following Parshat HaShavua (this year Tzav) in the first Torah. Special haftara for Shabbat Purim is the same as the week before - the one for Parshat Zachor.
Seudat Purim (including imbibing in wine AD D'LO YADA) and Mishlo'ach Manot are done on Sunday.
That's the short of it. Two Purim practices on each of three days: Megila on Friday (and Thursday night); Matanot LaEvyonim on Friday. Al HaNisim and Torah reading on Shabbat. Seuda and Mishlo'ach Manot on Sunday.
If you live in Jerusalem and follow the last paragraph, you've correctly observed Purim. However, there is more...
It is customary to give ZEICHER L'MACHATZIT HASHEKEL at Mincha of Taanit Esther, or before Maariv and Megila reading, to commemorate the Silver Half Shekel. Minimum is a half NIS. Common practice is to give 3 half-NIS coins. A praiseworthy custom is to give an amount equal to the present-day value of the original half-shekel, that being the value of approx. 10 grams of silver. The price of silver fluctuates, but we'll use $19.60 per Troy ounce. There are 31.1 grams of silver in a Troy ounce. That makes an original half-shekel worth about $6.30. At the rate as of this writing, the US dollar was equal to 3.563NIS, making the original half-shekel worth about 22.50NIS. One who is following this custom should add to the three half-shekel coins another 21NIS. Remember that this is only an extra custom. The norm is 1 or 3 half-shekel coins. Women and males below 20 years old needn't consider this extra amount at all. Men from 20 and up should give it a thought. If you decide to give the larger amount, make sure you say that you are giving it this year B'LI NEDER, so that you will not be committing yourself for further years. Men often give 1/2NIS or 3-1/2NIS on behalf of the members of their family. Whether a boy of 13 is obligated in this practice or only from age 20 depends upon what the custom commemorates. If it commemorates the original collection of half-shekels, then 20 is the age. If it marks the yearly collection of Machatzit HaShekel, then - according some - that was done from 13 and so should our ZEICHER.
It is preferable to continue fasting until after Megila reading, but one who fears that his Megila-reading/listening will be compromised, may break his fast after Maariv and before Megila.
Remember (Jerusalemites): No Al HaNisim on Thursday night or Friday, even though we read Megila. No Torah reading on Friday morning.
If you do not live in Israel, but are spending at least Thursday night through Shabbat in Jerusalem, then for Purim purposes you are considered a Jeru- salemite. Similarly, a Jerusalemite who goes "out of town" from Thursday night through Shabbat is considered a "Ben Paruz" (open-city resident) for Purim and observes all aspects of Purim on Thursday night and Friday. The situation for those traveling in or out of Jerusalem on Friday is more complicated and interesting. We will hopefully cover at least some of that later.
Megila is not read on Shabbat for the same reason Shofar is not blown on Shabbat and Lulav & Etrog are not taken on Shabbat. Our Sages banned these mitzvot on Shabbat lest a Jew mistakenly think that it is permissible to carry in a public domain without an Eiruv for the purpose of pursuing the mitzva. The ban is "across the board", even where there is an Eiruv and where people are knowledgeable and would not make a mistake. Aside from protecting Shabbat from inadvertent violation, this Rabbinic ban highlights the supremacy of Shabbat among the mitzvot. On a Hashkafic level, we can say that the Shabbat-message of G-d's Creation of the world and His continuing role as Master of the Universe (Shabbat) must not be negated by an attempt to proclaim Him as King (Shofar), or acknowledge His control of nature (Four Species), or demonstrate His working behind the scenes of Jewish History (Megila).
Megila is pulled back to the 14th of Adar, rather than postponed until Sunday, because the Megila insists that the days not be passed without Purim's major observance of Megila reading.
Al HaNisim and Torah reading remain on Shabbat since it is Purim and there is no reason to move those practices away from Shabbat.
Seuda and its companion mitzva of Mishlo'ach Manot might be considered clashing with Shabbat and even the preparation for Shabbat on Friday, so they are postponed until Sunday. (According to the standard practice, but not without other opinions.)
[Outside of Jerusalem, Purim is Friday and the Seuda is preferably held in the morning, to avoid encroaching on Shabbat preparations and spoiling one's appetite for the Leil Shabbat meal. Even so, some have the custom to have their Friday Seuda in the afternoon, as in other years. But most will have it in the morning.]
Although there is always a preference to hear Megila with a Minyan, when we hear it "early" the preference becomes stronger. This applies to both men an women. People who cannot get to shul for Megila (either at night or during the day) who in regular years might suffice with a private reading in the house, this year should try harder to have a minyan at home. Even if the other 9 people have already fulfilled the obligation of Megila, the 10 of you are still considered the Tzibur that is desirable, especially this year. For Megila purposes, a group of 10 women for women counts as a Tzibur too. [Generally, one should not rely on a mixed group of 10, except in extenuating circumstances.]
Bottom line: Megila read privately is still "kosher", including brachot, but should be avoided if possible (this year in J'lem).
The reason this is only "a stronger preference" rather than a requirement is based on the opinion that since we all read the Megila on the 14th of Adar, then we need not view our reading as early. If so, then there would not be any difference in the Minyan issue this year.
It sounds a bit strange, but people should be reminded on Friday non-Purim, NOT to say Al HaNisim. It will feel natural to say it because of the Purim atmosphere. But in Jerusalem, Al HaNisim is only said throughout Shabbat. A Jerusalemite who unthinkingly (or intentionally) says Al HaNisim on Thursday night or Friday, in the Amida or Birkat HaMazon does not have to "correct" that error. Still, one should be careful to think and act in a halachically proper manner.
It is proper to dress nicely (or in costume) on Thursday night and Friday, in honor of the Megila, even though it is not our Purim.
Besides Megila reading, the other mitzva of Purim that is to be fulfilled on Friday is MATANOT LA'EVYONIM. Care should be taken to give to at least two poor people who live in Jerusalem. The recipients of the money and/or gifts of food should not use it all up on Friday, but keep some until Sunday morning. (If the poor people use the money to buy food for Shabbat and for Sunday's Seuda, this is fine because that's what MATANOT LA'EVYONIM is supposed to be for.)
The other mitzvot of Purim, namely Mishlo'ach Manot and Seudat Purim, including the custom to drink a bit more wine than one is accustomed to, do not officially apply to Jerusalemites on Friday, but it is suggested that one do each aspect of these mitzvot (in token form) on Friday. One can give a simple two- food minimum Mishlo'ach Manot to one person on Friday, although the main observance of this Purim mitzva is Sunday for Jerusalemites.
So too, one can eat a meal on Friday morning (before halachic noon) and have in mind the mitzva of Seudat Purim - even though our main fulfillment of Seuda is Sunday. [Do you have to? No. Should you? It's nice to do. With HaMotzi? Yes. Meat? That's up to you.] So too, a modest drink of wine on Friday and a subsequent short nap that often is induced by wine, would be in keeping with the "extra measure" of doing those mitzvot on the same day that we read Megila.
Remember, none of the above is MEI-IKAR HADIN, part of the actual requirements of Purim, but it is praiseworthy to do these mitzvot on Friday, nonetheless.
[We again remind you to take things you read in Torah Tidbits as suggestions and that you should consult your Rav for what you should actually be doing.]
Shabbat is the "real" Purim day in Yerushalayim. Al HaNisim is said in each Amida of the four Shabbat davenings. If one forgets Al HaNisim, and remembers the omission before concluding the bracha of HATOV, go back and say it. After the bracha, one continues until right before YIH-YU L'RATZON at the end of ELOKAI N'TZOR, and says it there. Finished the Amida? Do not go back.
Similar rule for Birkat HaMazon. Within the NODEH bracha, go back and say it. Past that point, do not go back, but say it in the HARACHAMAN section of the benching. In this case, the beginning is modified to fit.
HARACHAMAN HU YA'ASEH LANU NISIM, K'MO SHE'ASITA LAVOTEINU BAYAMIM HAHEIM BAZMAN HAZEH. BIYMEI MORDECHAI V'ESTEIR...
If one finishes Birkat HaMazon and then realizes his omission, he does NOT go back.
The above rules for Al HaNisim apply to each person on his'her Purim.
The Friday night meal should have something extra or special in honor of Purim, although the meal is primarily a Shabbat meal.
In Jerusalem, on Shabbat morning, two Torahs are taken out of the Ark. In the first, we read Tzav, which is Parshat HaShavua. After CHATZI KADISH, we read from the second Torah the portion which everyone else has read on Friday morning - the 9-pasuk portion of VAYAVO AMALEK, from the end of B'shalach. Women (and men too) who missed ZACHOR should have it in mind when hearing VAYAVO AMALEK.
The haftara for Shabbat-Purim is the same as that of Parshat Zachor. This means that we read the same Haftara two weeks in a row, while the rest of the world reads the regular Haftara for Tzav.
Those who follow Minhag Yerushalayim and say special Psalms on special days in lieu of the regular ones, do NOT say the Purim psalm on Friday because it isn't Purim in Yerushalayim, nor on Shabbat, since Shabbat's Psalm "trumps" Purim's.
A person in Jerusalem who did not hear Megila on Friday, may NOT read it on Shabbat (because of the ban mentioned above), but (according to poskim) should say Full Hallel on Shabbat, without brachot. This is not required, but suggested. (The rationale is that we don't say Hallel on Purim because Megila takes its place - there are other reasons - but if one didn't hear Megila and now cannot hear or read it - because of Shabbat - then Hallel is the way to acknowledge and thank G-d for His miracles.)
One should learn Hilchot Purim and Megila with commentaries on Shabbat Purim and attend special timely shiurim if available, as an observance of Purim in the absence of Megila reading.
To be done on Friday. Without the busy-ness of the Seuda and Mishlo'ach Manot, one can and should do an extra nice job on this important Purim mitzva. Make this mitzva a priority (as it should be every year). Preparing and giving a food package that looks like a nice Mishlo'ach Manot, when given to a poor person will satisfy the mitzva of Matanot La'Evyonim without embarrassing the recipient. Even if you usually give money to a gabbai in shul who sees to it that the money is distributed to poor people on Purim, you should try to take care of this mitzva in a more personal and dignified manner. Matanot La'Evyonim should also be done on Shabbat (with food) if possible. Remember that the MAIN fulfillment this year is Friday. The minimum for Friday's fulfillment is two gifts to two poor people.
Seuda & Mishlo'ach Manot
Main observance is on Sunday. Because of varying opinions on the subject, some have the custom of giving a token Mishlo'ach Manot (two different food items to one person) on Friday (as mentioned above) and on Shabbat as well. Similarly, the main Seuda is Sunday. Some also will have a modest seuda on Friday before noon. On Shabbat, the custom is to add something special (an extra fancy dessert, side dish, wine, quinoa quiche - to honor Mordechai's great-grandfather s) to the main Shabbat meal. Some try to schedule the Shabbat meals to add an extra meal in honor of Purim. This can be accomplished by splitting lunch. Fruit and appetizer, for example, then bench. Go to early Mincha (just a suggestion). Then come back, wash for HaMotzi again (should be on Lechem Mishna) for the main dish and dessert. Then have another small meal later in the afternoon in honor of Purim. Even one who has a seuda on Friday and/or Shabbat, and gives Mishlo'ach Manot on Friday and/or Shabbat, still is fully obligated on these two Purim Mitzvot on Sunday. Purim observances on Shabbat should not be too overt.
It is a nice idea to have a new fruit on Shabbat which requires a SHEHECHE- YANU. When saying the bracha, one should have in mind the day and its mitzvot. The same goes for Sunday, if possible. On a regular Purim, the SHE- HECHEYANU of the daytime Megila reading is used for the mitzvot of the day. In the case of Purim M'shulash, some suggest the new fruit for Shabbat and Sunday in addition to having the mitzvot in mind at Megila reading on Friday.
Sunday is the "real" Seuda. Some finish before dark. Others say that there are Kabalistic reasons to extend Seuda into the night even when it is the 17th of Adar.
Some say AL HANISIM as a Harachaman for the Purim Seuda, on Sunday afternoon, even though Jerusalem's Purim is Shabbat.
Again, whatever you do on Friday and/or Shabbat as far as Seuda, Mishlo'ach Manot, and wine-drinking, remember that Sunday is the main day for these aspects of Purim.
Going from place to place
As much as we "warned" you above about checking with your Rav for a definitive ruling and using these pages to remind you of what to ask about, we repeat the "warning" now. This issue of traveling during and between the two Purim days is as confusing as it is interesting.
Much of what you will read now (and what you have read until now) comes from the sefer ADAR UPURIM by Rav Yoel Shwartz and PURIM M'SHULASH by Rav Sroya Divlitsky, and in consultation with Rabbi Aharon Adler.
One part of this topic that we are not going to touch at all is the matter of places around the country which are SAFEK 14th or 15th. People from and to these places will have to rely on asking a Rav for sure.
An out-of-towner (anyone not living in Jerusalem) who was home (his home) for Thursday night and Friday morning and then comes to Jerusalem for Shabbat, has only to observe all aspects of Purim on Friday and has no requirements on Shabbat in Jerusalem. He/she does not say Al HaNisim on Shabbat, nor do they have any obligations after Friday. (Some disagree and require Purim observances on Shabbat and Sunday and Al HaNisim in the end of the Amida... because of SAFEK, doubt.) It is best to ask.
If such a person came to Jerusalem without having had a Seuda on Friday morning before he left home, then he is obligated to have a Seuda in Jerusalem on Friday. And not on Sunday. So too for Mishlo'ach Manot. (He will have a slight problem in that case, since the recipient of the Mishlo'ach Manot is supposed to be someone with a Friday-Purim obligation. Not the most common thing to find in Jerusalem. It would therefore be best for him to appoint someone to send MM on his behalf.)
An out-of-towner who was in Jerusalem for Thursday night and Friday and returns home for Shabbat, must keep full Purim on Friday, but might also be required to have a Seuda on Sunday, even though he is not in Jerusalem anymore. This possibility is based on the ROSH who says the determining moment as to which day is your Purim is Friday morning. Being in Jerusalem on Friday morning (according to this opinion) means that you have Shabbat Purim (i.e. Purim M'shulash), even if you leave Jerusalem before Shabbat. The other possibility, however, is that it is your intention to be out of Jerusalem for Shabbat, and therefore, your Purim is Friday, even though you are in Jerusalem.
We warned you that things are confusing. That's part of why we are giving you this Purim Pull-Out a week before Purim. Read it over a couple of times and be prepared to ask your questions early enough before Purim to be able to act upon the answers you receive.
Coming to Jerusalem on Motza'ei Shabbat or Sunday during the day does not obligate you in any way whatsoever, Purim-wise. You want to go to a Jerusalemite Seuda on Sunday? Fine. No problem. But it won't fulfill your obligations. That's what your Friday is for.
Based on what we've written (and you've read) so far, it is probably a good idea for out-of-towners not to come to Jerusalem for Shabbat unless they come on Thursday for both Purim days. If you must do otherwise, read well and ask well.
Now let's go the other way. A person lives in Jerusalem. Thursday night they hear Megila in Jerusalem. Good. Friday morning they hear Megila in Jerusalem. Also good. So far. Their plan is to go to their children, parents, siblings, cousins, friends - whoever for Shabbat. Got that? Their plan is to be in Jerusalem on the 14th of Adar (not Purim here, even though there is Megila reading) and to be out of Jerusalem for the 15th of Adar (not Purim there).
There are three different opinions about this situation. Because of the different opinions, it is preferable not to go out of town for Shabbat Purim, unless you leave Jerusalem on Thursday and stay there until after Shabbat.
According to many Rishonim, such a person does not have a Purim this year. Not on Friday and not on Shabbat. It's nice that they heard Megila twice, but they were not obligated to hear it because they have no Purim. That's a little sad for most people. (There is told of a well-known person who would purposely avoid having Purim because he had ideological "problems" with it. But most Jews don't want to lose Purim.)
According to another opinion, if you intend not to be in Jerusalem for the 15th of Adar (as this person we are talking about intended), then you are considered to have Purim on Friday, even though you haven't left Jerusalem yet. It was your intention on the 14th not to be in Jerusalem on the 15th that obligates you on the 14th.
According to yet another opinion, when you are in Jerusalem on the 14th (Friday, this year) and therefore you are NOT out of Jerusalem, you have no connection to Purim on the 14th and therefore you have to "do" Jerusalem Purim in the three-day manner of Purim M'shulash, even though you will not be in Jerusalem for Shabbat. If this were the only opinion, then you would say Al HaNisim on Shabbat even in Eilat. And has Seudat Purim on Sunday. Etc. But according to the previous opinion, it is Friday that you have to say Al HaNisim, etc. Therefore, after all of the above is said, a person in this situation should say Al HaNisim on both days at the end of the Amida and in the HaRachaman part of Birkat HaMazon and has to do everything out of SAFEK (doubt). Seuda on Friday and Sunday. Etc.
Bottom line: Don't do it to yourself unless you have no choice.
Why what? Why, everything. Why did our Sages complicate things for us? Why not just move a Jerusalemite's Purim observance this year to Friday completely? After all, we're all reading Megila on Thursday night and Friday. Why not all the other things as well? And, as long as we're asking why - Why is there a difference for Purim between a Jerusalemite and (almost) everyone else?
We'll try to answer this next week, IY"H.
Remember that everyone has Taanit Esther on the same day - not just this year.
Generally, people outside of Jerusalem go into Purim fasting and do not break their fast until after Megila. (Unless, as mentioned earlier, they don't feel well and feel that their Megila Mitzva will be adversely compromised.) Usually, Jerusalemites read Megila a day later. But not this year. We (in Jerusalem) get to remember what it's like to fast through the Megila.
Some say that we fast on Taanit Esther because of the fast that Esther declared upon the Jews of Shushan before she approached the king to plead for her people. That fast was in Nisan, and it is probably not the reason for Taanit Esther - but is probably the reason the fast was named for Esther.
Some say that on days when the Jewish People wage battles, they fast and pray for Divine help and guidance. Such a day was the 13th of Adar, hence a fast day.
Some say that the fast is actually mentioned in the Megila, which speaks of DIVREI HATZOMOT V'ZA'KATAM - ...the matters of the fasts and the wailing.
And some suggest that the fast was instituted as an atonement and TIKUN (repair) for the Jews of Shushan attending the parties of Achashveirosh, at which he flaunted the plunder of the Beit HaMikdash and at which he belittled G-d. The Jews had no business enjoying those parties. Therefore, abstaining from food and drink is an atonement and TIKUN.
Ironically, so is the eating and drinking of Purim day. There are two ways to atone for sins of eating and drinking. One is to abstain (fast), the other is to indulge, even to an excess... that is LíSHEIM SHAMAYIM, for the sake of Heaven and for the fulfillment of a mitzva.
Taanit Esther embodies the serious side of Purim, which we tend to ignore or overlook on Purim day itself. It helps give Purim a sober balance.
Taanit Esther is not a sad and mournful day, like the four fasts for the Churban. But it is a serious day. A day of intro- spection. A day of T'shuva. As different as it is from "the Four Fasts", we still say Slichot, still read Vaychal, and the Dirshu HaShem haftara.
On the other hand, at Mincha, we don't say Tachanun or Avinu Malkeinu, as we do on other fast days (except when Taanit Esther is preponed to Thursday).