starts Monday night, February 25th, 2002 with the fast of Taanit Esther.
Shushan Purim starts the next evening, for those of you living in "walled
BASIC PURIM FACTS AND INFO FROM PURIM.COM!
The Days of Purim Purim can either fall on the 14th of Adar or the 15th
of Adar, depending upon where
you live. The reason for this is because the Jews of Shushan originally
observed the festival on a different
day than the Jews who lived elsewhere. In the other provinces the Jews
waged war on the 13th and
observed the 14th as a day of festivity and rejoicing. The Jews of Shushan
waged war during the 13th and
14th of the month and observed the 15th as a day of festivity and rejoicing.
Therefore, Purim celebrated on the 14th of Adar is called Purim of the
Open Cities while Purim on the 15th of Adar is called Purim of the Walled
Cities. In these days, the only city that has the status of Shushan and
therefore celebrates Purim on the 15th is Jerusalem. In a number of other
places, the scroll of Esther is also read on the 15th of Adar due to doubt.
In those communities, the essential observance of Purim is fixed for the
14th of Adar (since this is when everyone reads the Megillah) and though
the reading of the Megillah is repeated on the 15th, the blessing which
precedes the Megillah reading is not recited.
The Observance of the Day. There are four mitzvot which are obligatory
on Purim: the reading of
Megillat Esther, festivity and rejoicing, Shalach Manot (sending gifts),
and Matanot L'Evyonim (gifts to the
poor). Explanations follow:
Reading of Megillat Esther
One is required to read the Megillah both by day and night. One may read
the Megillah all night until dawn, and from sunrise until sunset. If one
has read the Megillah before sunrise but after dawn, one has fulfilled
the obligation to read the Megillah.Both men and women are obligated to
hear the Megillah.
Feasting and Rejoicing
It is a mitzvah to have a sumptuous meal on Purim, including meat dishes
and wine. This feast must be held
during the day. When Purim is in on Erev Shabbos -- as it was in Jerusalem
in 5758 -- one must begin one's meal early in the afternoon before Mincha
in order that one can finish early enough so as to have a good appetite
for the Shabbos meal. The miracle of Purim came through wine. Vashti's
downfall and Haman's downfall came through a wine feast! There is also
a custom of drinking until intoxication as our Sages tell us, "A person
is obligated to drink on Purim til he no longer knows the difference between
cursed is Haman and blessed is Modechai." If one fears that he or she
may be harmed by excessive drinking of wine or come to levity thereby
or even forget the required brachot one is required to make, drinking
excessively is not required.
Matanot L'Evyonim (Gifts for the Poor)
One is required to give at least two gifts to two poor people on Purim,
in other words, one gift to each. Even
a poor person who subsists on charity is required to perform this mitzvah.
This obligation can be fulfilled
through food or drink or even clothing. The gift should be sufficient
to buy bread. The gifts to the poor are
given during the day, usually after the reading of the Megillah.
Shalach Manot (Gifts to One Another)
One must give a gift which consists of two portions to another person.
Both men and women are included
in this mitzvah. The food must consist of something edible or drinkable
without further cooking or
preparation. One may send meat, fish. cooked pastry, wine and other beverages.
These gifts should be sent
to as many people as one chooses but they should be sufficient to convey
regard for the recipient. If at all
possible, these gifts should be sent by messengers, rather than delivered
personally because the Megillah
uses the word mishloach (sending) for these gifts.