Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Purim on a Friday

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

Although Purim is anticipated by many all year long, a Friday arrival is often received with disappointing sentiments. In most years, the merrymaking of Purim not only lasts all day, but continues well into the night, as well. A Friday Purim simply doesn’t allow for such expansive merrymaking owing to the preparations one must make in anticipation for the arrival of Shabbat. While a Friday Purim shouldn’t affect one's abilities to discharge the mitzvot of the day, there is some controversy, however, as to when one should hold the Seuda, the Purim Feast.

As a general rule, we are told that on Fridays one should avoid eating large meals in order to ensure a hearty appetite for the Shabbat evening meal.[1] Complying with this is considered to be a hiddur in the mitzva of the Shabbat meal.[2] There have even been individuals who would fast each and every Friday in order to ensure that they would be eating the Shabbat meal with appetite.[3] While such a practice is simply not possible for the masses, it is recommended, however, that one not eat an actual meal on Friday during the winter months when Shabbat arrives early. Rather, one is encouraged to simply snack throughout the day as needed.[4] Eating any size meal on a Friday is especially problematic from the ninth hour into the day and onwards.[5] In fact, any meal which is larger than one normally eats is problematic anytime on a Friday, even if eaten early in the morning.[6] It seems that one family paid the ultimate price for having ignored this halacha.[7]

Click here to read moreAs such, it seems that normative halacha certainly prefers that one hold the Friday Purim Seuda early in the day, preferably before noon.[8] Once one has begun the Seuda in the permissible 'time zone', however, it is then permitted to extend the Seuda the entire day, should one so desire. Indeed, those who conduct themselves in this manner are beyond reproach even though they will likely have no appetite for the Friday night meal. This is due to the Talmudic principle of "one who is engaged in a mitzva is exempt from a [concurrently arriving] mitzva."[9] Nevertheless, even those who are legitimately engaged at a large meal on a Friday, such as for a bris, or in our case, for Purim, should make an effort not to overdo their eating in order to "leave room" for the Friday night meal.[10]

On the specific issue relating to the timing of Purim meal, the Shulchan Aruch is mysteriously silent. The Rema, however, rules that when Purim falls on a Friday, the Purim meal is to be held in the morning, in order to allow for an appetite for the Friday night meal.[11] Most modern day halachists concur with the view of the Rema, as well.[12] Those who for whatever reason find themselves only starting their Purim Seuda later in the day should endeavor to eat less, especially with regards to bread.[13]

There is, of course, an alternative approach on how one can schedule the Friday Purim Seuda. This method is referred to as "Poress Mappa", in which the Purim Seuda and Shabbat evening meal are essentially combined into one. According to this approach, the Purim Seuda begins late in the day on Friday. In the minutes leading up to sunset, one is to cover the bread[14] which is on the table and one then 'accepts' upon oneself Shabbat with the recitation of Kiddush. After Kiddush has been recited one simply continues with one's meal which has now been transformed into the Shabbat evening meal.

One must be sure to eat at least an ounce of bread following the recitation of Kiddush. When reciting the Birkat Hamazon one can insert both "Retzei" as well as "Al Hanisim" in their regularly designated places.[15] Some authorities, however, recommend only reciting "Retzei" in its regular place and reciting the "Al Hanissim" as an addendum to the "Harachaman" component of the Birkat Hamazon.[16]

While holding one's Purim Seuda early in the day on Friday seems to be supported by far more sources than the Poress Mappa method, the latter is gaining popularity. Make no mistake however, there are authorities who advocate it as the ideal, though this is a very minority view.[17]In fact, there are many poskim who don't even entertain the Poress Mappa method as an acceptable option.[18] Those who follow the Arizal should certainly not conduct themselves in this manner, as according to him, Kiddush should never be recited before having davened Maariv.[19]

Further opposition to the Poress Mappa method is cited from the perspective of the halachic prohibition of "not bundling mitzvot together."[20] The Poress Mappa method gives the problematic appearance that one is dispensing both the Shabbat and Purim meals in one. Indeed, it is for precisely this reason that in the case of a Purim Meshulash in Jerusalem, the Purim Seuda is held on Sunday, and not on Shabbat. This is in order to ensure a distinct separation between the meal held in honor of Purim and one held in honor of Shabbat.[21] There are further logistical complications to the Poress Mappa method to which there is no clear consensus, such as when one should daven Ma'ariv or even recite the Kabbalat Shabbat and Bameh Madlikin, which was specifically intended to be recited at candle lighting time.

With only minor exception, from primarily Sefardic sources, [22] the Poress Mappa system is presented in halachic literature not as an ideal, but rather, as a guide on how to proceed, post-facto, in the [unexpected] event that one's Friday Seuda extends into Shabbat. It is a system on how to conduct oneself in order to circumvent the prohibition of eating as Shabbat enters. It also appears from the literary style used in the halachic literature discussing the Poress Mappa system that doing so is B'dieved, not L'chatchila. It is clear that an earlier Purim Seuda is to be preferred.

NEXT WEEK: "Birthdays". Please send me your lesser-known and obscure sources as well as anecdotes for inclusion. I truly thank and appreciate all those who sent me tidbits in preparation for this article. rabbiari@hotmail.com


[1] Rambam Shabbat 30:4, O.C. 249:2
[2] Aruch Hashulchan 249:6
[3] Yerushalmi Ta'anit 2:12, O.C. 249:3
[4] Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 249:6
[5] O.C. 249:2
[6] Aruch Hashulchan 249:4
[7] Gittin 38b
[8] Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 249:7
[9] Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 249:7, Berachot 11a,16a,19a, Pesachim 55a, Sukka 10b,25a
[10] Aruch Hashulchan O.C. 249:7
[11] Rema O.C. 695:2
[12] Mishna Berura 695:10, Aruch Hashulchan 249:7, Yechave Da'at 3:55. See Chazon Ovadia p. 179 for a list of authorities who feel the meal should be held Friday morning.
[13] Piskei Teshuvot 695:6
[14] According to some authorities, all "Mezonot" foods should be covered as well. Shemirat Shabbat K'hilchata 47:n125. There is also a case to be made for the need to cover all foods that are on the table.
[15] Chazon Ovadia p.183, See Piskei Teshuvot 695:6n36
[16] Mishna Berura 695:16
[17] Be'er Heitev 695:6, Piskei Teshuvot 695:6n.31
[18] Nitei Gavriel, among others
[19] Kaf Hachaim 271:22
[20] Pesachim 102b, Sota 8a
[21] Yerushalmi Megilla 1:1
[22] Erech Lechem, Nahar Mitzrayim, Vaya'an Shmuel, Kiryat Chanan David and Sha'alu L'baruch

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