Friday, March 9, 2012

SHUSHAN PURIM in Jerusalem today

Purim is not over yet! 

In Jerusalem Purim is celebrated today, the 15th of Adar. In the times of Esther and Mordekhai, the Jews of Shushan asked the King for an additional day to fight against their enemies, probably, those who were hiding behind the walls of the fortified capital of the Persian Empire. The King granted their petition so they fought their enemies on the 13th of Adar and on the 14th of Adar, and celebrated their deliverance on the 15th of Adar. Outside of the fortified cities, there is no celebration except the omission of the Tachanun (supplication) prayers (

The Meguila distinguishes between Shushan and all other places: "all the Jews in the provinces, who live in unwalled cities should celebrate the 14th of Adar". While those who live in walled cities, like Shushan, celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar.

This however, created a problem. The Israel was virtually in ruins at the time, and Jerusalem was still unwalled. Jerusalem --the eternal capital of the Jewish people-- would have had a status inferior to the other walled cities in the world. Therefore, in honor of Jerusalem and specifically to include Jerusalem, the rabbis established that "cities walled since the days of Jehousha bin Nun would be given automatically the status of walled cities". (Me'am Lo'ez)

Since then, Jerusalem and its surroundings --every village from where one can see Jerusalem-- observe Purim on the 15th of Adar. According to some opinions the city of Tiberias, in the north of Israel, is also considered a walled city. Tiberias has walls, but only on some parts of the city. The question the rabbis faced was, if the Kineret lake --a natural fortification to the city-- should be considered as one of the walls of the cities.

Shabbat Shalom!
Candle lighting in NYC: 5.38 PM
Shabbat ends in NYC: 6.47 PM

Netanyahu at AIPAC, 2012 (3 min. version)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

PURIM: The No-No's of Purim

1. Cross-dressing
In our days, it became common to wear customs in Purim. Obviously there is no Mitzva or Minhag involved in this. It is just a folklore --of dubious origin though-- that became accepted in Jewish communities all over the world, especially for children. We must avoid however, and warn against, cross-dressing in Purim. It is an explicit prohibition of the Tora, Debarim 22:5: "A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for haShem your God detests anyone who does this". If man dresses to look as a woman, wearing a skirt, or a wig, or using make up, etc... or if a girl dresses to look as a man, they are transgressing a serious Biblical prohibition. This prohibition applies even when one dresses to look as the other gender 'for fun' (R Obadia Yosef, Taz, Bakh and others) .
2. Alcohol-consumption
In Purim,today, we participate in a Se'uda, a festive meal of Purim. It is customary to serve alcohol, but it is NOT permitted to drink in excess. Purim should not be used as an excuse for drunkenness."In these days," declares Rabbi Weinreb from NCSY, a leading Orthodox Organization in America "when so many of our young people are prone to experimentation with dangerous substances, it behooves us to warn against the dangers of alcohol, especially on Purim". Quoting from Mishna Berura (sec. 695) on the laws governing the Purim SEUDA, the festive meal, Rabbi Weinreb emphasized that we are not commanded to become drunk, to look foolish and to lose self-control; rather, he said, we are commanded to become joyous" in a manner that results in love of God and thankfulness for God's miracles."
(See here the other Mitzvot of Purim)
READ THIS IMPORTANT LETTER from Rabbi Avraham Nissanian on alcohol and Purim