In the Torah portion of Mishpatim
we read a section about the three major holidays on the Jewish calendar (Exodus 23:14-18
). Since the holiday of Purim is coming up, I am going to segue from those holidays to the laws of the Purim feast. Specifically, this article will focus on when to have the Purim feast when Purim coincides with Friday as it does this year (5781).
The Purim Feast
It is a Rabbinic mitzvah to have a feast during the day of Purim (O.C. 695:1
), as the verse says (Esther 9:19
), “Therefore, the Jewish villagers… make the fourteenth day of the month of Adar a day of joy and feasting.”
Cancels Yeshivah Learning
It is evident from the Talmud (Megillah 7b
) that the students would not attend their study sessions on Purim so that they would have time to celebrate their Purim feast.
With or Without Bread
Some opinions hold that one may fulfill this meal without eating bread (Magen Avraham 695:9
). Others disagree and say that one must (wash and) eat bread in order to fulfill this mitzvah (implication of Taz 693:2
and Aruch HaShulchan 695:7
). According to the latter opinion, one may not fulfill his obligation with Mezonot such as cake and cookies (Mor Uktzi’ah 695).
The implication of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (O.C. 187:8
), is that one need not wash for this meal (Likutei Sichot 11:336). On the other hand, elsewhere (ibid 188:10)
the Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes, “There is no delight or rejoicing without partaking of bread… for bread is the essence of a meal; thus, the entire meal is defined as such because of the bread.”
Meat or Vegetarian?
The Magen Avraham (696:15
) writes that it is not clear if one must have meat at this meal. This doubt is based on the Magen Avraham’s opinion (ibid) that it is not obligatory to eat meat at a Yom Tov meal.
Others say (Nimukei Orach Chaim 695:2) that one must eat (red) meat at this meal just as one should have (red) meat at a Yom Tov meal (according to many opinions). See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 529:7
who says, “Nevertheless, it is a mitzvah to eat meat on Yom Tov.” See also Darkei Teshuvah 89:19 for additional sources.
The following teaching in the Talmud (Bava Metziah 78b
) is given as proof that it is proper to have meat at this meal:
“The Purim collection (i.e., money collected for the Purim feast for paupers) may be used only for Purim… And one does not scrutinize (how much to spend on) the matter but they acquire the calves and slaughter and eat them.”
An additional support for this view can be found in the Rambam who writes (Hilchot Megillah 2:15
) “What is the nature of our obligation for this feast? A person should eat meat and prepare as attractive a feast as his means permit.” It is noteworthy that this Rambam is not quoted in the later sources (Likutei Sichot, ibid).
The mitzvah of the Purim feast must be fulfilled during Purim day and one who only has a Purim feast at night has not fulfilled his obligation. Nevertheless, some say that one should also have a feast on the night of Purim (i.e., the night at the beginning of Purim). This is similar to the law that we read the Megillah at night although the main Megillah reading is during the day. As such, it is proper to make a small feast at night as well. One should wear Shabbat clothes on this night and light candles in honor of this feast (O.C. 695:1 and commentaries
). (One should also wear Shabbat clothes on the day of Purim.)
Best Time for the Meal
On a regular year (when Purim does not fall out on a Friday), there are three opinions as to the optimum time to have the Purim feast.
1) In the Morning
The Shela (Masechet Megillah, Ner Mitzvah 11
and cited in Elya Rabbah 695:4
) writes that one should have their meal in the morning. His reasoning is that this will enable one to pray Maariv (the evening service) with a minyan. In addition, if one has the feast in the afternoon, one may be too intoxicated to pray Maariv at all. This means that he will miss out on both the mitzvah of Maariv and that of the evening Shema. Whereas one who partakes of the feast in the morning will be able to be finished (and sober) by the time of Mincha and Maariv.
Another point he makes is that our feast recalls the feast of Esther with King Achashverosh and Haman (Esther 7
). This feast took place in the morning as was usual for kings (in those days). In fact, according to the Midrash (Esther Rabbah 10:4
), Haman was hanged at the time of the sacrificing of the Omer which is on the morning of the second day of Pesach (see Rambam Hilchot Temidim UMusafin 7:12
). This is alluded to in the verse in Yehoshuah (5:12
) which says וַיִּשְׁבֹּת הַמָּן מִמָּחֳרַת. This can be read and translated to mean “הָמָּן/Haman was finished on the day after (the first day of Pesach).
2) After Mincha
The Rama (695:2
) writes that the common custom is to have the meal after davening Mincha. The Mishnah Berurah (695:8
) explains that in the morning people are too busy with Mishlo’ach Manot (the mitzvah of sending gifts of food to one’s friend). Once the time of Mincha (the afternoon service) has arrived, one should not begin the meal before praying Mincha. The Rama adds that the main meal should be during the day, not like those who have the custom to begin when it is nearly evening and eat most of the meal at night.
Rabbi Aryeh Tzvi Frummer
(Eretz Tzvi 1:121) writes that there is a basis for those who customarily begin the meal in the late afternoon and eat most of the meal at night. This is because the entire meal is considered to be associated with the time one began that meal. This is based on Tosfot (D.H. She’ilmalei, Brachot 7a
) who indicates that we associate an entire action with the time that action began. This opinion is cited by the Holy Yid of Peshis’cha as a basis for the practice that some have — to begin praying at the right time even if they complete their prayers after the time of that prayer is over.
Rabbi Frummer takes this one step further and writes that, based on the opinion (Terumat Hadeshen 111
) that the purpose of giving Mishlo’ach Manot is to ensure that everyone has food for the Purim feast, it may be possible to fulfill the mitzvah of giving Mishlo’ach Manot even after dark– to a person who is in middle of their Purim meal. (One should not rely on this in this first place.)
(According to the Terumat Hadeshen the reason we also give Mishlo’ach Manot to people who are not poor is to ensure that even a person who is embarrassed to admit that they are poor, will also have food for their meal.)
Purim Feast on Friday
When Purim occurs on Friday, it is best to have the Purim meal in the morning as this will enable one to have an appetite for the Friday night meal (Rama 695:2
). The Aruch Hashulchan writes (O.C. 249:7
) that one only needs to begin the meal before midday.
If it is not possible to start one’s meal in the morning, one may have the meal in the afternoon.
As an initial preference, one should begin the meal more than three hours before sunset (Yad Efrayim on Rama 695:2, in the name of the Maharil). This is based on the halacha (see Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 249:7
) that one should generally not have a meal during the final three hours of Friday afternoon to ensure that one has a hearty appetite for the Shabbat meal.
If it is difficult to begin the meal at the above time, one may even begin it later in the afternoon since this meal is a mitzvah which must be fulfilled on this day (ibid). It is then possible to merge this meal with the Shabbat meal as will be explained below. This type of merger is called pores mapah umekadesh (covering with a cloth and making Kiddush).
Some have the custom to specifically begin the meal towards the end of the day and merge the Purim and Shabbat meals (Minhagei Eretz Yisrael quoted in Piskei Teshuvot 695 note 31), as the Me’iri writes (Ketubot 7b D.H. Af Al Pi), “We and our forefathers have the custom that when Purim coincides with Friday we begin the meal while it is still day, and when Shabbat begins we cover the bread with a cloth, and we make Kiddush and then finish the meal.”
Pores Mapah Umekadesh
The Talmud says (Pesachim 100a
) that if one is eating on Friday afternoon and then Shabbat begins, one need not recite the Grace after meals and start a new meal. Rather one can simply cover the bread that is on the table with a cloth, recite the Kiddush, and continue eating. The purpose of covering the bread with a cloth is to make it appear as if the bread was brought in honor of the Shabbat meal (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 271:10
When reciting the Kiddush in this case, one does not say the blessing of the wine if he was already drinking wine during the (previous) meal. Instead he should recite Yom HaShishi, and then go straight to the blessing on the Shabbat (Mekadesh HaShabbat). I.e., one says the entire Kiddush except for the blessing on the wine (Baruch… Borei Peri HaGafen).
There is a difference of opinion as to whether or not one should recite the blessing on the bread (Hamotzie) in this case. Some say that the Kiddush is considered an interruption and that one must therefore recite Hamotzie afterwards before eating the bread (Rif on Pesachim ibid
). Others (Rabbi Zerachia HaLevy on ibid) do not consider the Kiddush to be an interruption and that one should continue eating without saying this blessing.
In practice, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (271:11
) rules that one should not say the blessing as it is best to leave out blessings in a case of doubt. Nevertheless, due to this unresolved question, the Alter Rebbe says (based on Magen Avraham 271:10
) that a person who is very careful (Ba’al Nefesh) will not do pores mappah umekadesh so as not to enter into this dispute. It is noteworthy that the Mishnah Berurah (271:17
) does not mention this recommendation of the Magen Avraham.
Although when doing pores mapah umekadesh one does not say the blessing of Hamotzie (as explained above), one should use two whole loaves which will serve as his lechem mishnah (double loaves for Shabbat) [see sources quoted in Piskei Teshuvot 271 note 147).
The Mishnah Berurah writes (695:15) that if one does pores mapah umekadesh on Friday night after Purim, he should only mention the Shabbat when reciting the Grace after Meals (by saying Retzei) but should not mention Purim (by saying Ve’al HaNissim).
The Meiri (on Ketubot 7b) writes that one may say Ve’al HaNissim in this case since the 15th of Adar is also related to the holiday of Purim (as it is Shushan Purim). (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 188:17 that one may say both Retzei and Ya’ale Veyavo when concluding their third Shabbat meal on the evening of Motzei Shabbat when it falls out at the beginning of Rosh Chodesh.)
In practice, one may say Ve’al Hanissim in the “Horachamon” prayers at the conclusion of the Grace after Meals (see Piskei Teshuvot 695:6)
Those who merge the Purim and Friday night meals may pray Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv after they complete the meal. Alternatively, they may take a break when Shabbat begins, pray these prayers, and then resume their meal. The prayers do not constitute an interruption of their meal and therefore do not necessitate one to make any additional blessings on the food.
In this case, however, one should certainly not recite Ve’al HaNissim during the Grace after Meals (Mishnah Berurah ibid and Shulchan Aruch HaRav ibid).
At the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Farbrengens
It is noteworthy that the pores mapah umekadash mechanism was used on many occasions at the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s farbrengens. This is when the second day of Yom Tov occurred on a Friday. The Rebbe would often lead a farbrengen on these Friday afternoons which would continue into Shabbat. On several occasions, the Rebbe instructed someone to cover the bread and recite Kiddush (as explained above) so that the people at the farbrengen could continue to say Lechayim (and drink) after dark. The Rebbe put a stop to this practice in 1983 as there was confusion as to how to fulfill all of the details of this procedure. See here
One who wishes to merge the Purim meal and the Shabbat meal (pores mapah umekadash) should follow the order below:
- Daven Mincha before the meal begins
- Start the Purim meal before sunset
- At sunset one must stop eating and only resume after making Kiddush.
- One may pray Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv at this point if one likes.
- Recite Shalom Aleichem and Eishet Chayil
- Cover the (double loaves of) Challah.
- Recite Kiddush without saying the blessing of HaGafen (if he recited this blessing during the meal)
- Uncover the two whole Challot. Cut them up without saying a blessing and give all the participants a piece that is at least the size of an olive.
- Everyone should make sure to eat at least an olive-size piece of Challah after Kiddush.
- When bentching, one should say Retzei. It is questionable if one may say Ve’al HaNissim in this case. One may certainly recite it at the end of the Bentching during the Harachamans. If one already prayed Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, one should not recite Ve’al HaNissim.
- If one did not yet pray Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv, one should do so at this point.
May we merit to experience the great joy of Purim which will stay with us even after the arrival of Moshiach!
Wishing you a Chodesh Tov and a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!