In Parshas Bo, by the plague of arbeh- locusts, there is a peculiar verbiage that begs explanation. It is written, “VaHashem nihog ruach kadim boaretz kol hayom hahu vichol halayla etc.”- “And Hashem guided an east wind through the land all that day and all the night”. Why did the Torah write ‘hahu’- that day? Wouldn’t it have sufficed to write “all day and all night”?

Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Shain offers a wonderful explanation. Rashi tells us that the duration of each of the makos was one week, and three weeks were spent warning Paroh of the impending plague. We know that makas bechoros took place on the fifteenth of Nissan. Accordingly, the plague of choshech arrived on the fifteenth of Adar. It remains, that the plague of arbeh that immediately preceded choshech, took place on the fifteenth of Shvat- Tu B’Shvat.

The Gemorah in Mesechta Rosh Hashana points out that Tu B’Shvat is the Rosh Hashana for trees. This is because, at that point, most of the rainy season has passed, the sap has begun pulsating through the tree branches, and the fruit begins to bud. Annually, this day is cause for tremendous joy. The simcha of experiencing the renewed growth of the fruit trees is immeasurable.

While Mitzrayim was enduring the devastation of the locusts and the destruction of their entire crop, the rest of the world was ushering in the fresh crop and rejoicing with the prospect of the incoming bounty of luscious fruit. The date that was usually marked as a festive occasion, had been transformed into a day of calamity and heartbreak for Mitzrayim.

This may be the meaning intended by the extra word- ‘hahu’. That specific day, that special day of Tu B’Shvat, that perennially heralded exciting tidings and good fortune, became a day of tremendous misfortune for the Egyptians. This was the day that Mitzrayim became a laughing stock, evident to the entire world.

Aside from the great simcha of Tu B’Shvat, the Yidden enjoyed an additional cause for happiness. They were enabled to witness, personally, the revenge on their enemies with the devastation wrought by the swarms of locust. This makka was the harbinger for the ensuing hunger and the catalyst to finally free them from the shackles of slavery.

The seforim hakedoshim tell us that as a Yom Tov arrives, we are zoche to experience the kochos and hashpaos that were actuated on that specific day, back in time.

May we merit that on this day we be granted tons of delicious fruit. Additionally, may this be a day that are enemies and oppressors are vanquished just as on Tu B’Shvat in Mitzrayim.

Which cities celebrate Purim on two different days?

Cities which were walled during the time of Yehoshua Ben Nun (the era in which Klal Yisroel entered Eretz Yisroel) read the Megilah and celebrate Purim on the fifteenth day of Adar. This day is known as Purim D’mukafin (Purim of the walled cities). All other cities celebrate Purim on the fourteenth day of Adar. Cities which are unsure of their history must celebrate Purim on both the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar. On the second day, a brocha is not recited over the Megilah reading. Some poskim say that the obligation to give Mishloach Manos is only on the first day of Purim in this case. Others maintain that Mishloach Manos is like the other mitzvos which must be done on both days.

[שו"ע תרפח, א, ג ו־ד, ומשנ"ב י; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 16]

Do peripheral cities have the status of walled cities?

Cities that are within a mil of walled cities also celebrate Purim on the fifteenth of Adar. Shulchon Aruch rules that peripheral cities which appear to be part of walled cities should read Megilah on the fifteenth, even if they are further than a mil away. A minority view maintains that such a city must be within a mil of the walled city in order to celebrate on the fifteenth. These rules are referred to as the halachos of nirah (visible) and samuch (proximity). The poskim disagree about whether cities that are peripheral to possible walled cities (see above) are also subject to the parameters of nirah and samuch.

[שו"ע תרפח, ב, משנ"ב ה-ו, שעה"צ ה ו־ז, וביה"ל ד"ה או; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 12]

Do the neighborhoods of Yerushalayim celebrate Purim on the fifteenth of Adar?

Presently, only the city of Yerushalayim celebrates Purim D’mukafin. The city of Teveria has the status of a possible walled city. Other cities which have an uncertain status include Haifa, Lod and Yaffo. With respect to the modern city of Yerushalayim, most poskim hold that any part of the city which is directly connected to the Old City celebrates Purim on the fifteenth day of Adar. The poskim disagree about whether the peripheral neighborhoods that are not directly connected to the city should celebrate the fourteenth and fifteenth days of Adar.

[ביאורים ומוספים דרשו תרפח, 6 ו־14]
  • A person must listen to the Megilah in a beis hakneses. Since the pasuk says b’rov am hadras Melech (the King is glorified through a large group), one must join a large group for the kriyas Megilah.

  • A person who regularly davens in a larger shul may not go to a smaller minyan for Kriyas Megilah. If, however, he is requested to join a smaller minyan of patients in a hospital, he should join them.

  • Kriyas Megilah takes precedence over many mitzvos. This is due to the importance of publicizing the nes of the Purim story. Some exceptions include Kriyas Shema, tefilah, burying the deceased, and--according to some--bris milah.

  • What is the Mishnah Berurah’s disclaimer about traveling to different cities on Purim?

  • When does a visitor read the Megilah?

  • What is the schedule of a Purim Meshulash?
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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