The following is meant as a convenient review of Halachos pertaining to Purim. The Piskei Din for the most part are based purely on the Sugyos, Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, and the Mishna Berura, unless stated otherwise. They are based on my understanding of the aforementioned texts through the teachings of my Rebeim. As individual circumstances are often important in determining the psak in specific cases, and as there may be different approaches to some of the issues, one should always check with one’s Rov first.
- Men and women are obligated to read the Megila both at night and on Purim day.
- Women must hear a halachically valid Megila reading.
i. It is best for a woman to hear Megila from a man and that she not read it herself.
- If a man who already read/heard the Megila is reading for a woman/women, he shouldn’t say the brachos; one of the women should. In this case (or in any other situation in which a woman is saying the Bracha on the Megila) she should recite the bracha Lishmoa Megila instead of likroa.
- Fathers should see to it that all of their children (of age to comprehend even on a minimal level the idea of Purim) hear the Megila (generally this would apply to children 3 yrs and older).
i. Children who are likely to disturb the Megila reading in Shul should not be brought to Shul for the Megila reading.
- These children should then hear the Megila in a different environment. If there is no practical way for the children to hear a real halachically valid Megila reading, their father should then at least read the Megila to them from a printed text.
ii. It is best that the father should make sure to explain the Purim story in detail to his children.
- It is preferable to hear the Megila reading with a Minyan.
- There is a particular Hiddur in hearing the Megila reading with a larger rather than smaller Minyan – Berov Am Hadras Melech.
- If for some reason someone cannot hear Megila in a minyan he should read it for himself rather than hear it from someone else.
i. If he doesn’t know how to read the Megila, or if there is someone else knows how to read it better than him, he should then hear it from that other person.
ii. When Megila is being read privately (i.e. not in Minyan) there is no need for the reader to stand.
- At night one should read the Megila after Tzeis hakochavim (complete nightfall).
- If one read during Bin Hashemashos (the twilight zone between sunset and nightfall) one is Yotzei.
i. On the other hand, if one is able to hear or read it again one should.
- If one is reading it again after full nightfall, one shouldn’t say a brocha (blessing) on this second reading since the person was in essence already yotzei with the first (earlier) reading.
ii. If it will be difficult to hear a good Megila reading after Tzeis (i.e. in nursing homes or other not so ideal situations – such as someone travelling etc.) then one may read during Bein Hashemashos.
- In dire situations (someone who cannot fast until after Megila reading) the Megila can be read as early as Plag Hamincha.
- If it then becomes possible to read it again during the proper time frame, even if not as well (i.e. an amateur reading, etc), one should do so, but without a brocha.
- One can read the Megila and fulfill one’s obligation (of the night reading) the whole night until the earliest crack of dawn (Alos Hashachar).
- One ideally should not do the daytime reading of the Megila before complete sunrise (Neitz Hachama).
- If one read it after Alos one is Yotzei.
i. If it becomes possible to read it again afterward one should do so without a Brocha.
ii. In difficult circumstances (i.e. travel, work, etc) one may read after alos.
- If they can read it again later (even if the reading is not very good) they should do so, but without a brocha.
- One can read until sunset on Purim day.
i. In the event one has not read until Bein Hashemashos (dusk) one should read it then without a brocha (but only until nightfall)
- If someone missed Megila reading in a city where Megila is read on the fourteenth of Adar then that person should read it on the 15th.
- If there is a minyan of people (perhaps women and maybe even children would count) then one should read with a Brocha.
One should wear Bigdei Shabbos (Shabbos Garb) on Purim. There is a minhag to dress up into costumes on Purim as well.
The person making the brachos on the Megila should have in mind to be Motzi all the listeners.
On Purim day the person making the brachos on the Megila should have in mind that the Shehechiyanu is for all the other Mitzvos (i.e. Mishloach Manos, Matanos L’evyonim, and Seudas Purim) as well. Those listening should also have the Mitzvos Hayom in mind.
- Mishloach Manos – on must send two food items to a fellow Jew.
- These food items do not need to be wrapped up in any fancy way.
- There isn’t any need to send Mishloach Manos to more than one person.
i. Chazal tell us that it is better to give extra Matanos L’evyonim (presents to the poor) than to send more Mishloach Manos. Since one in effect can always still give more Matanos L’evyonim one should virtually never have the opportunity to give more Mishloach Manos.
ii. If, however, one is worried about offending someone by not sending that person Mishloach Manos one can send more than just one Mishloach Manos.
- Ideally Mishloach Manos should be foods that can be eaten both by the person sending the Mishloach Manos and by the person receiving them.
i. As long as a given item has a proper Hechsher the giver has fulfilled his obligation of Mishloach Manos – regardless of whether the receiver trusts that particular Hechsher. If, however, it is widely accepted not to eat products bearing a particular Hechsher, it is then better ideally not to send foods with such Hechsherim if either sender or receiver doesn’t eat it.
- In the event one unintentionally sent an item that neither the sender nor the receiver can eat, one is still Yotsei, but if one becomes aware of the situation while it is still Purim, one should send another Mishloach Manos acceptable to both sender and receiver.
- It is a matter of debate as to whether it is preferable to send Mishloach Manos to a good friend or to someone with whom the relationship could be strengthened and improved.
i. It is best if possible to send two Mishloach Manos – one to a good friend and another to someone else in order to improve their relationship.
- If someone can only send one Mishloach Manos it is then preferable to send to a good friend.
- It is best that at least one Mishloach Manos be sent to someone who is Shomer Torah Umitzvos.
- As long as one Mishloach Manos was sent to any Jew the obligation has been fulfilled.
- The Binyan Tzion says that ideally one should send Mishloach Manos through someone else (a Shaliach).
i. This isn’t Meakev but rather a simple Hidur.
- Ideally Mishloach Manos should be something that a person could eat for (or at least as part of) their Purim Seuda.
- Ideally Mishloach Manos should be something which is ready to eat.
i. It is a matter of debate as to whether raw meats, and for that matter any other foods that need to be cooked in order to be eaten constitute ready-made foods or not. One should therefore avoid sending such items.
- Ideally Mishloach Manos should be something that a person would appreciate getting.
- Mishloach Manos must be given on Purim day and not at night or before Purim.
- Matanos L’evyonim – one is obligated to give a monetary gift to two Evyonim (very poor people) on the day of Purim.
- There is no set amount for these gifts, but as any monetary Mitzva each gift must be worth at least a “Shave Pruta” (enough money to buy something small).
i. To avoid all doubt in America one should give at least $1.75 and in Israel at least 5 NIS.
- As understood by the Halachik authorities, Matanos L’evyonim are supposed to enable poor people to buy their Purim Seuda. Many Poskim consequently suggest that one should give enough money to two poor people so that they can each be able to buy enough for the Purim Meal. Since this may not be easy to define exactly, one should approximate as best as possible.
i. Since these monies are meant to enable poor people to have their Purim Meal, it is strongly advisable that these be given early enough so that they can be used for that purpose.
- Chazal tell us that on Purim we do not look into whether someone claiming to be needy is indeed needy. Rather Chazal tell us to view anyone asking for Tzedaka as needy. If we are able to give tzedaka to such people, we should.
- Matanos L’evyonim should be given on Purim day.
i. One may give monies for Matanos L’evyonim to a Gabai Tzedaka before Purim (or to any other Shaliach) in order for them to give it to Aniyim on Purim Day.
- Seudas Purim – one is obligated to eat a festive Meal Purim Day. This meal cannot be eaten at night. Ideally this meal should be eaten after Mincha on Purim day while there is time to still eat the majority of the meal on Purim itself (before sunset).
- While there isn’t any Mitzva of having a meal Purim night there is still an inyan to celebrate and even to have some sort of Seuda.
i. There are those who have a minhag to have a Seuda Purim in the morning as well.
- The Gemarah tells us that one must get sufficiently drunk on Purim so as not to be able to tell the difference between the Cursed Haman and the Blessed Mordechai. Halachically speaking all the Poskim seem to imply that one should drink more than usual. The extent of the additional drinking permitted, however, is a matter of debate. The consensus of the Poskim is that it is not the amount one drinks that makes a difference. It is the intention that matters. One’s intentions in drinking must be LeShem Shamayim (for the sake of Heaven – to fulfill a Mitzva).
i. As it is Assur (forbidden) to plan to do anything that will cause damage to oneself or to others intentionally, it is thus forbidden to drink more than one can safely handle. In this regard one must err on the side of caution and drink only what one is certain one can handle.
- If one doesn’t know if one can handle drinking one should not drink more than one does for Kiddush.
ii. The Rama suggests that one can fulfill one’s obligation by drinking a very small amount (minimally more than they do for Kiddush) and then go to sleep.
Please note: remember to daven Maariv after the Seuda is finished. One may not daven until they are sober enough that they could carry on a dignified conversation with a ‘king’.