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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Ta'aniyot - Chapter Five, Megillah vChanukah - Chapter One, Megillah vChanukah - Chapter Two

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Ta'aniyot - Chapter Five

1

There are days when the entire Jewish people fast because of the calamities that occurred to them then, to arouse [their] hearts and initiate [them in] the paths of repentance. This will serve as a reminder of our wicked conduct and that of our ancestors, which resembles our present conduct and therefore brought these calamities upon them and upon us. By reminding ourselves of these matters, we will repent and improve [our conduct], as [Leviticus 26:40] states: "And they will confess their sin and the sin of their ancestors."

א

יש שם ימים שכל ישראל מתענים בהם מפני הצרות שאירעו בהן כדי לעורר הלבבות לפתוח דרכי התשובה ויהיה זה זכרון למעשינו הרעים ומעשה אבותינו שהיה כמעשינו עתה עד שגרם להם ולנו אותן הצרות. שבזכרון דברים אלו נשוב להיטיב שנאמר והתודו את עונם ואת עון אבותם וגו':

There are days when the entire Jewish people - All healthy adult men and women

fast - It appears that the Rambam considers these fasts to be obligatory in the present era. Based on his interpretation of Rosh HaShanah 18b in his Commentary on the Mishnah, Rosh HaShanah 1:3, the Rambam explains that in the era of the Second Temple, these fasts were of an optional nature. After the destruction of the Temple, however, every Jew is required to observe them. This obligation is also explicitly stated by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 549:1, 550:1).

because of the calamities that occurred to them then - Here, the Rambam employs the same principle he developed at the beginning of this text regarding fasts instituted because of difficulties of an immediate nature, with regard to these fasts which were instituted for these national calamities.

Fasting in and of itself is not a purpose. Fasting can, however, serve

to arrouse [their] hearts and initiate [them in] the paths of repentance. - This is the intent of the fasts, and not merely refraining from eating. For this reason, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 121:1 harshly reproves those who fast, but spend their days taking pleasure strolls and being involved in other forms of leisure activity.

This will serve as a reminder of our wicked conduct and that of our ancestors, which resembles our present conduct and therefore brought these calamities upon them and upon us. - Although these tragedies took place in previous generations, we share the responsibility for them. The Jerusalem Talmud (Yoma 1:1) states, "Every generation in which the Temple is not rebuilt should consider it as if it was destroyed in its days."

By reminding ourselves of these matters, we will repent - The word נשוב, translated as "we will repent," literally means, "We will return." Teshuvah involves a return to one's fundamental self, becoming aware of the fundamental Divine nature one possesses.

Such a process relates to these commemorative fasts, which on the surface are associated with undesirable elements, but possess a positive core, as reflected in the Rambam's statements at the conclusion of this chapter that in the era of the Redemption, all these fast days will be transformed into days of rejoicing and celebration.

and improve [our conduct], as [Leviticus 26:40] states: "And they will confess their sin and the sin of their ancestors." - See Hilchot Teshuvah 1:1-2, 2:2, where the Rambam associates the mitzvah of teshuvah with confession.

2

These days are the following:

The Third of Tishrei. This is the day on which Gedaliah ben Achikam was slain and the ember of Israel that remained was extinguished, causing their exile to become complete.

The Tenth of Tevet. This is the day Nebuchadnezzar, the wicked, the King of Babylon, camped against Jerusalem and placed the city under siege.

The Seventeenth of Tammuz. Five tragedies took place on this day:

a) The Tablets were broken;

b) In the First Temple, the offering of the daily sacrifices was nullified;

c) [The walls of] Jerusalem were breached in [the war leading to] the destruction of the Second Temple;

d) Apostmos, the wicked, burned a Torah scroll; and

e) He erected an idol in the Temple.

ב

ואלו הן יום שלישי בתשרי שבו נהרג גדליה בן אחיקם ונכבת גחלת ישראל הנשארת וסיבב להתם גלותן. ועשירי בטבת שבו סמך מלך בבל נבוכדנאצר הרשע על ירושלים והביאה במצור ובמצוק. וי"ז בתמוז חמשה דברים אירעו בו. נשתברו הלוחות. ובטל התמיד מבית ראשון. והובקעה ירושלים בחורבן שני. ושרף אפוסטומוס הרשע את התורה. והעמיד צלם בהיכל:

These days are the following: - The Rambam lists these fasts, not in the order in which the events which they commemorate transpired, nor according to the order in which they are mentioned in Zechariah 8:19 (see Halachah 4), but rather in the order of the year, beginning from the month of Tishrei.

The Third of Tishrei. This is the day on which Gedaliah ben Achikam - The governor appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to supervise the land of Judah. The Jews who were not exiled rallied around him, and it appeared that there would be hope of maintaining a Jewish settlement in the land (Jeremiah, Chapters 40-41).

was slain - According to the Radak (Jeremiah 41:1), Gedaliah was slain on Rosh HaShanah. Because a fast could not be held on that sacred day, the commemoration of his murder was postponed until the first available weekday.

and the ember of Israel that remained was extinguished, causing their exile to become complete. - After Gedaliah's murder, the Jews remaining in Eretz Yisrael feared the wrath of the Babylonians and fled to Egypt, leaving Eretz Yisrael devoid of Jewish leadership and possessing very few Jewish inhabitants. (See Jeremiah, Chapters 41-43.)

The Tenth of Tevet. This is the day Nebuchadnezzar, the wicked, the King of Babylon, camped - The Hebrew term םמך, which the Rambam [and the prophet Ezekiel (24:2)] employ, usually has a positive connotation, meaning "support." Perhaps this is also an allusion to the concept that ultimately these commemorative fasts have a positive intent, as mentioned at the conclusion of the chapter.

against Jerusalem and placed the city under siege. - Our commemoration of this fast also marks two other undesirable events which occurred in the preceding days: the death of Ezra, the scribe, and the translation of the Torah into Greek at the demand of King Ptolemy (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 580).

The Seventeenth of Tammuz. Five tragedies took place on this day - Ta'anit 29a states: Undesirable events are gathered together on a day appropriate for them. The spiritual nature of the day is such, that the potential for such tragedies to occur is greater.

a) The Tablets were broken; - When Moses descended with the Tablets of the Ten Commandments after being on Mount Sinai for forty days, he beheld the Golden Calf that the Jews had made. In wrath, or out of his concern for the Jewish people (see Rashi, Exodus 32:19), Moses broke the Tablets.

b) In the First Temple, the offering of the daily sacrifices - The korban tamid (Numbers 28:1-8)

was nullified; - Even during the siege of Jerusalem, the Jews would offer the daily sacrifices. Despite the famine in the city, they would offer two lambs each day as sacrifices. As the siege persisted, their supply of lambs dwindled, and on the Seventeenth of Tammuz, there no longer were any lambs to sacrifice (Rav Ovadiah of Bertinoro, Ta'anit 4:6).

Significantly, other commentaries (Rashi, Tiferet Yisrael) on the Mishnah identify the nullification of the sacrifices on the Seventeenth of Tammuz with different events in our history.

c) [The walls of] Jerusalem were breached in [the war leading to] the destruction of the Second Temple; - Jeremiah 39:2 states that in the destruction of the First Temple, Jerusalem's walls fell to the Babylonian conquerors on the ninth of Tammuz. Nevertheless, it is the destruction of the city by the Romans that we commemorate by fasting, because the effects of that destruction are more severe (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 549:2). The Rabbis did not institute a fast for the Ninth of Tammuz as well, for it was felt that this would be an excessive burden for the people (Mishnah Berurah 549:4).

Furthermore, according to the Jerusalem Talmud, Ta'anit 4:8, because of the many difficulties suffered by the Jewish people, they miscalculated the date, and, even during the destruction of the First Temple, it was on the Seventeenth of Tammuz that Jerusalem's walls were breached.

d) Apostmos, the wicked - a Greek official in the Second Temple era (Rav Ovadiah of Bertinoro)

burned a Torah scroll - The Meiri identifies this as the Torah scroll written by Ezra the Scribe. This scroll was kept in the Temple Courtyard and was used to check the precision of the other scrolls. In this manner, he attempted to undermine the entire Torah tradition.

and e) He - Apostmos

erected an idol in the Temple. - Others interpret this as a reference to the idol erected by King Menasheh in the First Temple. (See the Jerusalem Talmud, Ta'anit 4:6.)

3

On the Ninth of Av, five tragedies occurred:

It was decreed that the Jews in the desert would not enter Eretz Yisrael;

The First and the Second Temples were destroyed;

A large city named Betar was captured. Thousands and myriads of Jews inhabited it. They were ruled by a great king whom the entire Jewish people and the leading Sages considered to be the Messianic king. The city fell to the Romans and they were all slain, causing a national catastrophe equivalent to that of the Temple's destruction.

On that day designated for retribution, the wicked Tineius Rufus plowed the site of the Temple and its surroundings, thereby fulfilling the prophecy [Micah 3:12], "Zion will be plowed like a field."

ג

ותשעה באב חמשה דברים אירעו בו. נגזר על ישראל במדבר שלא יכנסו לארץ. וחרב הבית בראשונה ובשנייה. ונלכדה עיר גדולה וביתר שמה והיו בה אלפים ורבבות מישראל והיה להם מלך גדול ודמו כל ישראל וגדולי החכמים שהוא מלך המשיח. ונפל ביד הרומיים ונהרגו כולם והיתה צרה גדולה כמו חורבן בית המקדש. ובו ביום המוכן לפורענות חרש טורנוסרופוס הרשע את ההיכל ואת סביביו לקיים מה שנאמר ציון שדה תחרש:

On the Ninth of Av, five tragedies occurred - Here, also, we see the reflection of the concept mentioned above, that undesirable events are gathered together on a day appropriate for them.

It was decreed that the Jews in the desert would not enter Eretz Yisrael - The spies sent by Moses returned to him on the eighth of Av, bearing a malicious report about Eretz Yisrael. That night the Jewish people wept, fearful about their future. God told them, "Tonight, you have wept without reason. I will designate this night as a night of weeping for generations" (Ta'anit 29a).

The First and the Second Temples were destroyed - Ta'anit 29a reconciles a seeming contradiction in chronology between II Kings 25:8-9 and Jeremiah 52:12-13, explaining that the Babylonians first entered the Temple on the seventh of Av. They reveled and wrought havoc there until the afternoon of the ninth of Av, when they set fire to the building. The fire continued burning throughout the tenth of Av.

The Sages (ibid.) do not cite a specific source for the tradition that the Second Temple was also destroyed on that day. Nevertheless, the tradition is universally accepted.

A large city named Betar was captured. Thousands and myriads of Jews inhabited it. - This was Bar Kochba's capital in his war against the Romans, 52 years after the destruction of the Temple.

They were ruled by a great king whom the entire Jewish people and the leading Sages considered to be the Messianic king. - See the Rambam's comments concerning Bar Kochva, Hilchot Melachim 11:3.

The city fell to the Romans and they were all slain, causing a national catastrophe equivalent to that of the Temple's destruction. - The extent of the carnage that accompanied Betar's fall was awesome. Gittin 57a states that rivers of blood flowed into the Mediterranean Sea, forty miles away.

On that day designated for retribution, the wicked Tineius Rufus - a Roman officer

plowed the site of the Temple and its surroundings, - According to Ta'anit 29a, this took place while Rabban Gamliel was living, shortly after the destruction of the Temple.

thereby fulfilling the prophecy [Micah 3:12], "Zion will be plowed like a field." - The citation of this prophecy communicates a fundamental point: that the destruction of Jerusalem was not an end in its own right. Just as a field is plowed to produce crops, Jerusalem was plowed to allow the city to blossom into its ultimate fulfillment in the era of the Redemption.

4

These four fasts are explicitly mentioned in the prophetic tradition [Zechariah 8:19]: "The fast of the fourth [month],1 the fast of the fifth [month]...." "The fast of the fourth [month]" refers to the Seventeenth of Tammuz,2 which is in the fourth month; "the fast of the fifth [month]," to Tish'ah B'Av, which is in the fifth month; "the fast of the seventh [month]," to the Third of Tishrei which is in the seventh month; "the fast of the tenth [month]," to the Tenth of Tevet, which is in the tenth month.3

ד

וארבעה ימי הצומות האלו הרי הן מפורשין בקבלה צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וגו'. צום הרביעי זה שבעה עשר בתמוז שהוא בחדש הרביעי. וצום החמישי זה תשעה באב שהוא בחדש החמישי. וצום השביעי זה שלשה בתשרי שהוא בחדש השביעי. וצום העשירי זה עשרה בטבת שהוא בחדש העשירי:

5

And the entire Jewish people follow the custom of fasting at these times and on the Thirteenth of Adar, in commemoration of the fasts that [the people] took upon themselves in the time of Haman, as mentioned [in Esther 9:31]: "the matter of the fasts and the outcries."

If the Thirteenth of Adar falls on the Sabbath, the fast is pushed forward and held on Thursday, which is the eleventh of Adar. If, however, any of the [dates of] other fasts fall on the Sabbath, the fasts are postponed until after the Sabbath. If [the dates of] these fasts fall on Friday, we should fast on Friday.

On all these fasts, the trumpets are not sounded, nor is the Ne'ilah service recited. The passage Vay'chal is read from the Torah, however, in both the morning and the afternoon services.

On all these [fasts], with the exception of Tish'ah B'Av, we may eat and drink at night.

ה

ונהגו כל ישראל בזמנים אלו להתענות. ובי"ג באדר זכר לתענית שהתענו בימי המן שנאמר דברי הצומות וזעקתם. ואם חל י"ג באדר להיות בשבת מקדימין ומתענין בחמישי שהוא י"א. אבל אחד מארבעה ימי הצומות שחל להיות בשבת דוחין אותו לאחר השבת. חל להיות בערב שבת מתענין בערב שבת. ובכל הצומות האלו אין מתריעין ולא מתפללין בהן תפלת נעילה. אבל קורין בתורה שחרית ומנחה בויחל משה. ובכולן אוכלים ושותין בלילה חוץ מתשעה באב:

And the entire Jewish people follow the custom of fasting at these times and on the Thirteenth of Adar - The Maggid Mishneh interprets this phrase to mean that our obligation to fast on these days is a custom accepted by the Jewish people after the destruction of the Second Temple. As mentioned above, others interpret this obligation as stemming from the exegesis of the verse from Zechariah mentioned in the previous halachah, as found in Rosh HaShanah 18b.

Our translation follows the standard published texts of the Mishneh Torah. Many authoritative manuscripts make a small change in the wording, which would cause the lines to be rendered as: "And in these times, the entire Jewish people follow the custom of fasting on the Thirteenth of Adar."

in commemoration of the fasts that [the people] took upon themselves in the time of Haman - The Rabbis question precisely which fasts are being commemorated. Some maintain that since the Thirteenth of Adar was a day of battle on which the Jews waged war against their enemies, they fasted at that time to arouse Divine mercy (Maggid Mishneh). Others maintain that it is improper to fast in a time of war, lest this sap one's strength, and instead the Jews merely vowed to fast, but conducted the actual fasts at a later time.

A third opinion maintains that this refers to the three-day fast that Esther called before approaching Achashverosh. Although this fast was held in the month of Nisan, it is commemorated in connection with the Purim holiday.

as mentioned [in Esther 9:31]: "the matter of the fasts and the outcries." - The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 141:2 writes that the commemoration of this fast makes us conscious of how God "hears each person's prayer in his time of distress when he fasts and repents... as He did on behalf of our ancestors in those days."

The fast of the Thirteenth of Adar is also referred to as Ta'anit Esther, "the fast of Esther."

When the fast of Esther became a formal part of Jewish observance is a matter of question. It is not mentioned in the Talmud. Furthermore, Megillat Ta'anit, a text which mentions all the fasts and festivals observed in the Talmudic era, does not mention this fast and speaks of the thirteenth of Adar, the day on which the fast of Esther is observed, as a day of celebration, the Day of Nicanor, marking the defeat of the Greek general of that name in the Hasmonean wars. It was not until after the destruction of the Temple that the observance of the dates mentioned in Megillat Ta'anit was nullified. This would appear to indicate that the observance of the Fast of Esther was of later origin.

In contrast, there is evidence pointing to the establishment of the Fast of Esther early in the Talmudic period. The Sheiltot of Rav Achai Gaon, Parshat Vayakhel 67, speak of the observance of the Fast of Esther in the time of the Mishnah. Even if this teaching is not accepted as historical fact, we can glean from it that in Rav Achai's time, shortly after the conclusion of the Talmud, the fast was already a long-standing custom.

Significantly, because of the difference in status between it and the other commemorative fasts, the Ramah (Orach Chayim 686:2) rules far more leniently in regard to this fast than in regard to the others.

If the Thirteenth of Adar falls on the Sabbbath, the fast is pushed forward - It is not postponed until after the Sabbath, because Purim is Sunday and the celebration of Purim cannot be postponed. Nor is it appropriate to hold this fast after Purim.

and held on Thursday, which is the eleventh of Adar. - As the Rambam mentions, if the date of a commemorative fast falls on Friday, the fast is held on that day. Nevertheless, it is improper for a fast that is not scheduled for such a day to be held then, since this is not proper reverence for the Sabbath (Maggid Mishneh).

If, however, any of the [dates of] other fasts fall on the Sabbath, the fasts are postponed until after the Sabbath. - Megillah 5a states that the rationale is "we do not bring close [the recollection of] Divine retribution."

If [the dates of] these fasts fall on Friday, we should fast on Friday. - According to the fixed calendar we follow at present, this is a rare occurrence. Only the Tenth of Tevet (in the northern hemisphere a relatively short fast) can fall on Friday. Even this does not happen frequently.

On all these fasts, the trumpets are not sounded, nor is the Ne'ilah service recited. - These measures are taken only in times of current distress.

The passage Vay'chal - beginning Exodus 32:11.

is read from the Torah, however, in both the morning and the afternoon services. - See Hilchot Tefillah 13:18. As mentioned there, on Tish'ah B'Av a different passage (beginning Deuteronomy 4:25) is read in the morning. Significantly, the Rambam does not mention the custom of reciting the haftarah in the afternoon service.

On all these [fasts], with the exception of Tish'ah B'Av, we may eat and drink at night. - Similarly, on these days, work, wearing shoes, washing, anointing oneself, and sexual relations are permitted (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 550:2).

6

When the month of Av enters, we reduce our joy. During the week of Tish'ah B'Av, it is forbidden to cut one's hair, to do laundry, or to wear a pressed garment - even one of linen - until after the fast.

It has already been accepted as a Jewish custom not to eat meat or enter a bathhouse during this week until after the fast. There are places that follow the custom of refraining from slaughtering from Rosh Chodesh Av until after the fast.

ו

משיכנס אב ממעטין בשמחה. ושבת שחל תשעה באב להיות בתוכה אסור לספר ולכבס וללבוש כלי מגוהץ אפילו כלי פשתן עד שיעבור התענית. ואפילו לכבס ולהניח לאחר התענית אסור. וכבר נהגו ישראל שלא לאכול בשר בשבת זו ולא יכנסו למרחץ עד שיעבור התענית. ויש מקומות שנהגו לבטל השחיטה מראש החדש עד התענית:

When the month of Av enters - Significantly, the Rambam does not mention any restrictions from the period beginning the Seventeenth of Tammuz. During this period, it is the Askenazic custom (see Ramah, Orach Chayim 551:2,4; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:1-3) to observe certain restrictions - e.g., prohibitions against marrying, against reciting the blessing Shehecheyanu, and against cutting one's hair. From the beginning of Av, however, other restrictions are also added.

we reduce our joy. - The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 551:1-2) state that the restrictions mentioned by the Rambam in Chapter 3, Halachah 8, are applicable during this period.

During the week of Tish'ah B'Av - from the Sabbath before the fast onward.

According to Ashkenazic custom, all the activities mentioned by the Rambam are forbidden from Rosh Chodesh Av onward.

it is forbidden to cut one's hair - or to shave, even in a manner permitted by halachic authorities (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 122:3)

to do laundry - it is customary to observe this prohibition even if one does not intend to wear the garment until after the fast (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 551:3).

or to wear a pressed garment - We have used a modern translation for the Hebrew term גהוץ. In Talmudic times, it referred to smoothing out the creases of a garment with a flat stone (Aruch).

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 551:3) also prohibits wearing clothes that are merely laundered, even if they have not been pressed. There are halachic authorities who will grant leniencies in this context with regard to underwear and the like.

even one of linen - Linen garments will not appear as distinguished after washing as those of other fabrics (Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 551).

until after the fast. - As mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 558:1) and commentaries, these and the following restrictions should be followed for a certain amount of time on the Tenth of Av, as well, to commemorate the fact that the Temple continued burning on that day as well.

According to the Ashkenazic custom, in which these practices are observed from Rosh Chodesh onward, there are certain leniencies, depending on one's community, with regard to wearing laundered and pressed clothes on the Sabbath before Tish'ah B'Av.

It has already been accepted as a Jewish custom not to eat meat - or fowl. Bava Batra 60b states that it would have been proper for the Jews to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine at all times in mourning over the loss of the opportunity to partake of the sacrificial meat and the loss of the wine libations. The Sages felt, however, that such a decree would be too stringent for the people to observe and hence, did not institute it.

or enter a bathhouse during this week until after the fast. - The prohibition applies only to washing for pleasure. Needless to say, washing associated with a mitzvah - e.g., a woman in preparation for her ritual immersion or washing necessary for hygienic purposes - is permitted.

There are places that follow the custom of refraining from slaughtering from Rosh Chodesh Av until after the fast. - This custom has not been accepted throughout the Jewish community. Today, animals are slaughtered so that those who do not observe the restriction against eating meat will at least eat kosher meat, and so that meat will be available for others after the fast.

7

All [the restrictions of] Tish'ah B'Av apply at night as well as during the day. One may not eat after sunset [of the previous day]; [it is forbidden to eat] between sunset and the appearance of the stars, as on Yom Kippur.

One should not eat meat or drink wine at the meal before the fast. One may, however, drink grape juice that has not been left [to ferment] for three days. One may eat salted meat that was slaughtered more than three days previously. One should not eat two cooked dishes.

ז

תשעה באב לילו כיומו לכל דבר. ואין אוכלין אלא מבעוד יום. ובין השמשות שלו אסור כיום הכפורים. ולא יאכל בשר ולא ישתה יין בסעודה המפסיק בה. אבל שותה הוא יין מגתו שיש לו שלשה ימים או פחות. ואוכל בשר מליח שיש לו שלשה ימים או יתר. ולא יאכל שני תבשילין:

In contrast to the other commemorative fasts, because of the seriousness of our loss on that day and the repetition of this loss

All [the restrictions of] Tish'ah B'Av - mentioned in Halachot 10 and 11

apply at night as well as during the day. One may not eat after sunset [of the previous day]; - Similarly, if one resolved to accept the fast beforehand, one may no longer eat (Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Ta'anit 4:6). The Ramah (Orach Chayim 553:1) states that only when one makes a verbal statement to this effect is the resolution binding.

[it is forbidden to eat] between sunset and the appearance of the stars - Shabbat 34b explains that the Sages were undecided whether this period of time, known as beyn hash'mashot, should be considered to be part of the night or the day. Hence, it is necessary to be stringent both at the entry and the departure of a day associated with halachic restrictions.

as on Yom Kippur. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah, loc. cit., the Rambam writes that, as on Yom Kippur, we are obligated to include a certain portion of the previous day in all the restrictions observed on that day.

Significantly, some of the foremost commentators on the Mishneh Torah (the Maggid Mishneh and the Radbaz) either were not aware of this statement or maintained that the Rambam changed his mind on this issue, for they ruled that no such obligation applies in connection with Tish'ah B'Av. Their opinion is accepted as halachah at present (Mishnah Berurah 553:3).

One should not eat meat or drink wine at the meal before the fast. - the seudah hamafseket. Even a person who does not observe the custom of refraining from these foods during the week of Tish'ah B'Av (or the Nine Days according to Ashkenazic custom), should refrain from partaking of them in this meal. This meal should be characterized by mourning and sadness, and these foods bring happiness.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 554:25) associates Ezekiel 32:27: "And their sins will be upon their bones" with eating meat and drinking wine at this meal.

One may, however, drink grape juice that has not been left [to ferment] for three days. - For it has no alcoholic content, and will not lead to happiness.

One may eat salted meat that was slaughtered more than three days previously. - The prohibition against eating meat was derived from the fact that with the Temple's destruction, the sacrifices were nullified. Since no sacrificial meat could be eaten on the third day and afterwards, this restriction does not apply to such meat (Mishnah Berurah 552:5).

It must be emphasized that the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 552:2) and the later authorities explain that, at present, it is customary to refrain from partaking of even these foods at this meal.

One should not eat two cooked dishes. - This restriction was instituted because when two or more dishes are served, a meal is considered important, and partaking of such a meal is inappropriate at this time (Rabbenu Asher).

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 552:3-5) discusses in detail what is excluded by the phrase "two cooked dishes."

8

When does the above apply? When one ate [this meal] in the afternoon on the day preceding Tish'ah B'Av. If, however, one eats a meal before noon, although this is the last meal one eats before the fast, one may eat all that one desires.

When the day before Tish'ah B'Av falls on the Sabbath, one may eat and drink to the full extent of one's needs, and one may serve even a meal resembling Solomon's feasts at one's table.

Similarly, when Tish'ah B'Av falls on the Sabbath, one need not withhold anything at all.

ח

בד"א שאכל ערב תשעה באב אחר חצות. אבל אם סעד קודם חצות אף על פי שהוא מפסיק בה אוכל כל מה שירצה. וערב תשעה באב שחל להיות בשבת אוכל ושותה כל צרכו ומעלה על שלחנו אפילו כסעודת שלמה. וכן תשעה באב עצמו שחל להיות בשבת אינו מחסר כלום:

When does the - need to observe the restrictions mentioned

above apply? When one ate [this meal] in the afternoon on the day preceding Tish'ah B'Av. - The governing principle for this and the previous and following halachot is that unlike the meal before the fast on Yom Kippur, the meal before the fast of Tish'ah B'Av is somber in nature. The atmosphere of mourning that prevails throughout the fast has already begun, and therefore, eating a normal meal should be out of the question.

If, however, one eats a meal before noon, although this is the last meal one eats before the fast, one may eat all that one desires. - For then, one is still far removed from the fast itself.

When the day before Tish'ah B'Av falls on the Sabbath - the obligation to honor the Sabbath surpasses the need to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. Therefore,

one may eat and drink to the full extent of one's needs, and one may serve even a meal resembling Solomon's feasts at one's table. - There are some authorities (Hagahot Maimoniot) who recommend observing certain practices associated with mourning at the third Sabbath meal. Their opinions are not, however, accepted as halachah.

There is, however, one aspect in which this third Sabbath meal differs from the way this meal is eaten throughout the year. Generally, we are allowed to continue this meal into the night. When the fast of Tish'ah B'Av begins on Sunday, however, we must cease eating at sunset. (See Ramah, Orach Chayim 552:10.)

Similarly, when Tish'ah B'Av falls on the Sabbath - since the observance of the fast is postponed, there is no need to minimize one's Sabbath joy, and

one need not withhold anything at all. - Significantly, the Rambam does not mention any mourning rites in connection with such a day. In contrast, the decisions of the Ramah (Orach Chayim 554:19) reflect the following principles. All expressions of mourning that would be noticed by the public should be forbidden. Those practices of mourning which are private in nature - e.g., the prohibition of sexual relations - should be observed.

9

This is the rite observed by the people as a whole who cannot endure more. In contrast, the rite observed by the pious of the earlier generations was as follows:4 A person would sit alone between the oven and the cooking range. Others would bring him dried bread and salt. He would dip it in water and drink a pitcher of water while worried, forlorn, and in tears, as one whose dead was lying before him.

The scholars should act in this or a similar manner.5 We never ate cooked food, even lentils, on the day before Tish'ah B'Av, except on the Sabbath.

ט

זו היא מדת כל העם שאינן יכולין לסבול יותר מדאי. אבל חסידים הראשונים כך היתה מדתן. ערב תשעה באב היו מביאין לו לאדם לבדו פת חרבה במלח ושורה במים ויושב בין תנור וכירים ואוכלה ושותה עליה קיתון של מים בדאגה ובשממון ובכיה כמי שמתו מוטל לפניו. כזה ראוי לחכמים לעשות או קרוב מזה. ומימינו לא אכלנו ערב תשעה באב תבשיל אפילו של עדשים אא"כ היה בשבת:

10

Pregnant women and those who are nursing must complete their fasts on Tish'ah B'Av.

[On this day,] it is forbidden to wash in either hot or cold water; it is even forbidden to place one's finger in water. Similarly, anointing oneself for the sake of pleasure, wearing shoes, and sexual relations are forbidden, as on Yom Kippur.

In places where it is customary to do work, one may work. In places where it is not customary to work, one should not. Torah scholars everywhere should remain idle on this day. Our Sages said, "Whoever performs work on this day will never see a sign of blessing forever."

י

עוברות ומניקות מתענות ומשלימות בתשעה באב. ואסור ברחיצה בין בחמין בין בצונן ואפילו להושיט אצבעו במים. ואסור בסיכה של תענוג ובנעילת הסנדל ובתשמיש המטה כיום הכפורים. ומקום שנהגו לעשות בו מלאכה עושין. ומקום שנהגו שלא לעשות אין עושין. ובכל מקום תלמידי חכמים בטלין. ואמרו חכמים שהעושה בו מלאכה אינו רואה סימן ברכה לעולם:

Pregnant women and those who are nursing - although absolved from fasting on the other commemorative fasts

must complete their fasts on Tish'ah B'Av. - Needless to say, they or any other person who feels that fasting will threaten their health may eat and drink. (See Ramah, Orach Chayim 554:6.)

[On this day,] it is forbidden to wash in either hot or cold water - for the sake of pleasure. One may, however, wash one's hands to remove filth or for ritual purposes. (See the Shulchan Aruch and commentaries, Orach Chayim 544:9-10.)

it is even forbidden to place one's finger in water - without any valid reason. One may, however, pass through water to greet one's teacher or to watch one's crops (ibid.:12-13). Similarly, a woman is allowed to wash food that she will serve children, even though her hands also become wet (Mishnah Berurah 554:19).

The Rambam does not elaborate on these leniencies here, because he has already mentioned them at length with regard to Yom Kippur in Hilchot Sh'vitat Asor 3:1-7.

Similarly, anointing oneself for the sake of pleasure - in contrast to anointment for hygienic or medicinal reasons

wearing - leather

shoes - is forbidden. One may, however, wear shoes made from other materials. Even leather shoes are permitted in certain instances. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 554:17.)

and sexual relations are forbidden - See Mishnah Berurah 554:37, where the question is raised whether one may touch one's wife or not.

as on Yom Kippur. - With this phrase, the Rambam refers the reader to his discussion of these prohibitions and the leniencies that may be granted in Hilchot Sh'vitat Asor.

In places where it is customary to do work - The word "work" in this context does not refer to the thirty-nine labors prohibited on the Sabbath, but rather to concentrated activity that would distract one's attention from mourning (Mishnah Berurah 554:43).

one may work. - If, however, a person desires to refrain from working because of the unique nature of the day, he may.

In places where it is not customary to work, one should not. - The Mishnah Berurah 554:45 states that this is the custom in the Ashkenazic community at present.

Torah scholars everywhere should remain idle on this day. - For they should set examples to the people at large. Note the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Ta'anit 4:6, where he writes that "Performing work on this day is very disgraceful."

Our Sages said - Ta'anit 30b

"Whoever performs work on this day will never see a sign of blessing forever." - Rashi and Tosafot interpret this as referring to the work performed on Tish'ah B'Av itself. This interpretation is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 554:24).

11

Torah scholars should not exchange greetings on Tish'ah B'Av. Instead, they should sit in agony and frustration like mourners. If a common person greets them, they should reply to him weakly, in a somber tone.

On Tish'ah B'Av, it is forbidden to read from the Torah, the Prophets, or the Sacred Writings [or to study] the Mishnah, Torah law, the Talmud, or the Aggadic works. One may study only Job, Eichah, and the prophecies of retribution in Jeremiah. Children should not study in school on this day.

There are some sages who do not wear the head tefillin.

יא

תלמידי חכמים אין נותנין זה לזה שלום בתשעה באב. אלא יושבים דוים ונאנחים כאבלים. ואם נתן להם עם הארץ שלום מחזירים לו בשפה רפה וכובד ראש. ואסור לקרות בתשעה באב בתורה או בנביאים או בכתובים ובמשנה ובהלכות ובגמרא ובהגדות. ואינו קורא אלא באיוב ובקינות ובדברים הרעים שבירמיהו. ותינוקות של בית רבן בטלין בו. ומקצת החכמים נוהגין שלא להניח בו תפילין של ראש:

Torah scholars - Indeed, this applies also the people as a whole. Torah scholars are mentioned because they are expected to be more sensitive to the tragedy of our loss on Tish'ah B'Av.

The Rambam's choice of wording is based on his interpretation of the Tosefta, Ta'anit 3:11, "Chaverim should not exchange greetings on Tish'ah B'Av," for the term chaverim is often used as a reference to Torah scholars. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 554:20), however, interprets chaverim in its literal sense, that it means "friends."

should not exchange greetings on Tish'ah B'Av. - Nor should gifts or other social amenities be exchanged (Mishnah Berurah 554:41).

Instead, they should sit in agony and frustration like mourners. - Nothing should be done to distract one's attention from the loss.

With the above expression, the Rambam also explains the rationale for these laws. When the Sages ordained the commemoration of Tish'ah B'Av, they structured its observance to resemble Yom Kippur in certain contexts, and to resemble the laws of mourning in others.

If a common person greets them, they should reply to him - lest he become upset, but this should be done

weakly, in a somber tone. - So that he also appreciates the nature of the day. See also Chapter 3, Halachah 8.

On Tish'ah B'Av, it is forbidden to read from the Torah, the Prophets, or the Sacred Writings [or to study] the Mishnah, Torah law, the Talmud, or the Aggadic works. - Because "the precepts of God... make the heart glad" (Psalms 19:9). Even this joy is inappropriate on Tish'ah B'Av (Ta'anit 30a).

One may study only - Torah works that are somber in nature - e.g.,

Job, - which recounts his grief and suffering over the tribulations which beset him

Eichah - the Book of Lamentations for the Temple's destruction. This text is read communally on Tish'ah B'Av and may be studied by individuals as well.

and the prophecies of retribution in Jeremiah. - In addition, one may study the Talmudic passages describing the Temple's destruction (from the chapter Hanezikin, Gittin, Chapter 5, in the Babylonian Talmud, and the last chapter of Ta'anit in the Jerusalem Talmud), the Midrashim on Eichah, the laws of Tish'ah B'Av, the laws of mourning, and other similar texts.

One should, however, recite all the passages from the Bible and the Talmud that are included in the daily prayer service.

Children should not study in school on this day. - for they also derive happiness from their study (Ta'anit, ibid.).

There are some sages who do not wear the head tefillin. - A mourner does not wear tefillin on the first day of mourning (Hilchot Eivel 4:9). In particular, support for this custom is derived from Eichah 2:1, which states, "He cast down the glory of Israel from the heaven to the earth." "The glory of Israel" is a reference to tefillin.

The Rambam's choice of wording appears to indicate that the arm tefillin may be worn. Similarly, he does not mention any change in practice regarding the tallit gadol. The custom at present in most communities (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 555:1) is not to wear tefillin - neither the head tefillin nor the arm tefillin - nor to wear the tallit gadol in the morning service. A tallit k'tan is worn, but a blessing is not recited over it.

For the afternoon service, the tallit gadol and both the head and arm tefillin are worn.

12

After the Temple was destroyed, the Sages of that generation ordained6 that one should never build a building7 whose walls are decorated with ornate designs like the palaces of kings. Instead, one should cover the walls of one's home with mortar and paint over them with lime, leaving a space one cubit square opposite the doorway8 that is unpainted.9 If, however, a person buys a dwelling whose walls have been decorated, it may remain as is; he is not obligated to scrape [the designs] from the walls.

יב

משחרב בית המקדש תקנו חכמים שהיו באותו הדור שאין בונין לעולם בנין מסוייד ומכוייר כבנין המלכים.אלא טח ביתו בטיט וסד בסיד ומשייר מקום אמה על אמה כנגד הפתח בלא סיד. והלוקח חצר מסויידת ומכויירת הרי זו בחזקתה ואין מחייבים אותו לקלוף הכתלים:

13

Similarly, they ordained that a person who sets a table for guests should serve slightly less [than usual] and should leave a place empty, [so that it obviously] lacks one of the dishes that would ordinarily be placed there.10

When a woman has a set of jewelry made for her, she should refrain from having one of the pieces appropriate for the set made, so that her jewelry is not perfect.11

Similarly, when a groom marries, he should place ashes on his forehead12 on the place where one wears tefillin.13 All of these practices were instituted to recall Jerusalem, as [Psalms 137:5-6] states: "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its dexterity. Let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not recall Jerusalem during my greatest joy."

יג

וכן התקינו שהעורך שלחן לעשות סעודה לאורחים מחסר ממנו מעט ומניח מקום פנוי בלא קערה מן הקערות הראויות לתת שם. וכשהאשה עושה תכשיטי הכסף והזהב משיירת מין ממיני התכשיט שנוהגת בהן כדי שלא יהיה תכשיט שלם. וכשהחתן נושא אשה לוקח אפר מקלה ונותן בראשו מקום הנחת התפילין. וכל אלו הדברים כדי לזכור ירושלים שנאמר אם אשכחך ירושלים תשכח ימיני תדבק לשוני לחכי אם לא אזכרכי אם לא אעלה את ירושלים על ראש שמחתי:

14

Similarly, they ordained that one should not play melodies with any sort of musical instrument. It is forbidden to celebrate with such instruments or to listen to them being played [as an expression of mourning]14 for the destruction.15

Even songs [without musical accompaniment] that are recited over wine are forbidden, as [Isaiah 24:9] states: "Do not drink wine with song." It has, however, become accepted custom among the entire Jewish people to recite words of praise, songs of thanksgiving, and the like to God over wine.16

יד

וכן גזרו שלא לנגן בכלי שיר. וכל מיני זמר וכל משמיעי קול של שיר אסור לשמוח בהן ואסור לשומען מפני החורבן. ואפילו שירה בפה על היין אסורה שנאמר בשיר לא ישתו יין. וכבר נהגו כל ישראל לומר דברי תושבחות או שיר של הודאות לאל וכיוצא בהן על היין:

15

Afterwards, they ordained that grooms17 should not wear crowns at all, nor should they wear any diadems at all,18 as [implied by Ezekiel 21:31]: "Remove the miter and lift up the crown." Similarly, they ordained that brides should not wear crowns of silver or gold; a garland made from twisted cords is, however, permitted for a bride.19

טו

ואחר כך גזרו על עטרות חתנים שלא להניחם כלל. ושלא יניח החתן בראשו שום כליל שנאמר הסר המצנפת והרם העטרה. וכן גזרו על עטרות כלות אם היה של כסף או זהב אבל של גדיל מותר לכלה:

16

When a person sees the cities of Judah in a state of destruction,20 he should recite [Isaiah 64:9]: "Your holy cities have become like the desert," and rend his garments.21 When one sees Jerusalem in a state of destruction,22 one should recite [the continuation of the verse,] "Zion is a desert...." When one sees the Temple in a state of destruction, one should recite [ibid.:10]: "Our holy and beautiful House [...has been burned with fire]" and rend one's garments.23

From which point is one obligated to rend one's garments? From Tzofim.24 Afterwards, when one reaches the Temple, one should rend them a second time.25 If one encountered the Temple first, because one came from the desert, one should rend one's garments because of the Temple, and add to the tear because of Jerusalem.26

טז

מי שראה ערי יהודה בחורבנם אומר ערי קדשך היו מדבר וקורע. ראה ירושלים בחורבנה אומר ירושלים מדבר וגו'. בית המקדש בחורבנו אומר בית קדשנו ותפארתנו וגו' וקורע. ומהיכן חייב לקרוע מן הצופים. וכשיגיע למקדש קורע קרע אחר. ואם פגע במקדש תחלה כשיבא מדרך המדבר קורע על המקדש ומוסיף על ירושלים:

17

In all these situations, one must rend one's garments with one's hands and not with a utensil.27 While standing,28 the person should rend all the garments he is wearing until he reveals his heart.29 He should never mend these tears at all.30 He may, however, have them stitched, hemmed, gathered closed, or sewn with a ladder pattern.

יז

כל הקרעים האלו כולם קורע בידו מעומד וקורע כל כסות שעליו עד שיגלה את לבו. ואינו מאחה קרעים אלו לעולם. אבל רשאי הוא לשללן למללן ללקטן ולתופרן כמין סולמות:

18

[The following rules apply when a person] comes to Jerusalem frequently in his travels: If he comes within thirty days of his last visit, he is not required to rend his garments. If he comes after thirty days, he is.31

יח

היה הולך ובא לירושלים הולך ובא תוך שלשים יום אינו קורע קרע אחר. ואם לאחר שלשים יום חוזר וקורע:

19

All these [commemorative] fasts will be nullified in the Messianic era and, indeed ultimately, they will be transformed into holidays and days of rejoicing and celebration, as [Zechariah 8:19] states: "Thus declares the Lord of Hosts, 'The fast of the fourth [month], the fast of the fifth [month], the fast of the seventh [month], and the fast of the tenth [month] will be [times of] happiness and celebration and festivals for the House of Judah. And they shall love truth and peace.'

יט

כל הצומות האלו עתידים ליבטל לימות המשיח. ולא עוד אלא שהם עתידים להיות יום טוב וימי ששון ושמחה שנאמר כה אמר ה' צבאות צום הרביעי וצום החמישי וצום השביעי וצום העשירי יהיה לבית יהודה לששון ולשמחה ולמועדים טובים והאמת והשלום אהבו: סליק הלכות תעניות

All these [commemorative] fasts will be nullified in the Messianic era - With the conclusion of the exile, there will be no need to mark the dates that led to it with mourning and fasting. Thus the Rambam writes at the conclusion of Hilchot Megillah: "All memories of the difficulties [endured by our people] will be nullified as [Isaiah 65:16] states: 'For the former difficulties will be forgotten.'

As mentioned previously, fasting is not an end in its own right, but a means to motivate the Jews to return to God and correct the faults in their behavior. The coming of the redemption will be a sign that the service of repentance is complete, and thus there will be no further need for fasting.

and, indeed, ultimately, they will be transformed - Through repentance, sins are transformed into merits (Yoma 86a). And in this process, these fasts, which came as a result of the exile that stems from sin, will be transformed

into holidays and days of rejoicing and celebration - There is no possibility for the existence of an entity that is genuinely negative in nature. All those factors that appear negative represent hidden good, and furthermore, a good so powerful that the only way it can be revealed in this world is through qualities that outwardly appear negative. Their inner nature, however, is good, and in the era of the redemption when the world will be refined to the extent that it can accept this great good, this nature will be revealed.

as [Zechariah 8:19] states: "Thus declares the Lord of Hosts, 'The fast of the fourth [month] - The Ninth, or at present, the Seventeenth, of Tammuz (see Halachah 4),

the fast of the fifth [month] - Tish'ah B'Av

the fast of the seventh [month] - the Third of Tishrei

and the fast of the tenth [month] - the Tenth of Tevet

will be [times of] happiness and celebration and festivals for the House of Judah. And they shall love truth and peace.' - Note the interpretation of this verse in the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, and the introduction to the tractate of Avot (Shemonah Perakim), Chapter 4. There the Rambam elaborates on how, instead of asceticism and fasting, God desires intellectual development ("truth") and emotional harmony ("peace").

From a different perspective, it can be understood that by quoting the conclusion of the verse, the prophet was also alluding to the means by which the Messianic redemption - and thus the transformation of these fasts - could be brought closer.

Yoma 9b relates that the Temple was destroyed because of unwarranted hatred among the Jewish people. By spreading peace and truth, we will nullify the cause for the exile, and this will cause the effect, the exile itself, also to cease (Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 15, pp. 415ff.).

Footnotes
1.

In this verse and in the Rambam's reference to it, the months are counted from Nisan onward.

2.

Zechariah lived after the destruction of the First Temple and is referring to the fasts instituted because of its destruction. Accordingly, the fast of Tammuz in his time was the on ninth of the month, as mentioned above. The Rambam mentions it as referring to the seventeenth, because this is when the fast of the breaching of the city's walls is observed at present.

3.

Note the positive references to this prophecy at the conclusion of the chapter.

4.

Ta'anit 30a,b describes Rabbi Yehudah bar Ilai as eating this meal in this fashion.

5.

At present, our custom is to eat a filling meal in the late afternoon. Afterwards, shortly before the fast, one eats a slight meal with bread and eggs dipped in ashes. Nevertheless, anyone who feels able to endure the fast when eating less is encouraged to do so. Three people should not sit together, so as not to become obligated in a zimun. (See Ramah, Orach Chayim 552:9; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 123:3.)

6.

From Bava Batra 60b, one may infer that this refers to the destruction of the Second Temple.

7.

The Be'ur Halachah 560 cites texts which maintain that this prohibition applies only to a person's private home, but not to synagogues or houses of study. These may be built ornately.

8.

So that it will be noticed upon entry.

9.

From the Rambam's expression (which is quoted in the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 560), it appears that even after leaving the square cubit space unpainted, one should not have ornate walls. The Tur (Orach Chayim 560) differs, maintaining that if one leaves this space unpainted, one may decorate one's walls as one desires. The Mishnah Berurah 560:1 states that the Tur's opinion may be followed.

The latter text (560:2, as does the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 126:1) questions why the observance of this practice is not more widespread.

10.

Note the Mishnah Berurah 560:5, which states that this applies even with regard to feasts served in association with a mitzvah - e.g., wedding feasts, bar-mitzvahs, and the like.

11.

The Rabbis have also cited other reasons for women to be modest in their wearing of jewelry. (See Mishnah Berurah 560:8.)

12.

Compare to Chapter 4, Halachah 1.

13.

Although this custom is not observed in many places at present, it is customary for these reasons to break a glass under the wedding canopy (Ramah, Orach Chayim 560:2).

14.

Thus, according to this opinion (which is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 560:3), listening to any music is forbidden. The Ramah, however, quotes several more lenient views. He concludes that "for the sake of a mitzvah - e.g., at a wedding feast - everything is permitted." The meaning of "for the sake of a mitzvah" has been extended by contemporary authorities to include many different situations.

15.

Significantly, Sotah 48a mentions this measure as having been ordained for the nullification of the Sanhedrin (Israel's High Court), and not for the destruction of the Temple.

16.

In his responsa and in his Commentary on the Mishnah (Avot 1:17), the Rambam criticizes most singing and music, without mentioning the obligation to mourn for Jerusalem, because it caters to man's lust and material desires, rather than to his spiritual impulses.

17.

The Maggid Mishneh emphasizes that this prohibition applies to brides and grooms, who must be reminded to minimize their rejoicing at this time of celebration, but not to other individuals at ordinary times.

18.

According to Sotah 49b, this includes even a crown of flowers.

19.

Note the Mishnah Berurah 460:18, which states that if the crown is made from fabric, it may have gold, silver, and jewels attached to it.

20.

One of the most sensitive differences of opinion in the religious community in Eretz Yisrael at present revolves around this law. The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 561) states that the obligation to rend one's garments applies only when Eretz Yisrael is under gentile rule. The question is whether the establishment of a secular Jewish state is sufficient to have this obligation nullified or not.

21.

In Hilchot Eivel 9:10, the Rambam mentions this obligation, and as a proof-text cites Jeremiah 41:5, "And eighty men from Shechem, Shiloh, and Shomron came with their beards shaven and their garments rent." The commentaries on this verse explain that these measures were taken in mourning over the Temple.

22.

Even if a person sees the cities of Judah, Jerusalem, and the site of the Temple on the same journey, he is obligated to rend his clothes three times. The Maggid Mishneh emphasizes, however, that the converse is not true. If one sees Jerusalem before any other city and rends one's garments on its behalf, there is no need to rend one's garments for the other cities (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 561:3).

23.

The Bayit Chadash (Orach Chayim 561) emphasizes how one should prostrate oneself in mourning, overcome with grief at the sight of this holy place in ruins.

The Mishnah Berurah 561:5 emphasizes that this refers to seeing the Temple from afar. It is forbidden to enter the Temple Mount itself, because we are all ritually impure, and the sanctity of that holy place is still intact. (See Hilchot Beit HaBechirah 6:16.)

24.

This refers to a point from which one could see the Jerusalem of the Biblical and Talmudic eras. The location of the present city is slightly different. Tzofim is not identical with present-day Mount Scopus.

25.

A parallel exists in the laws of mourning. If one parent dies after one has rent one's garment over the passing of another relative, it is not sufficient merely to add slightly to the tear; one must rend the garment a second time (Hilchot Eivel 8:10).

26.

Here also we see a parallel in the laws of mourning. If one hears of the death of a relative other than a parent after one has rent a garment over the passing of another relative, all that is necessary is to add slightly to the tear (ibid.).

27.

As mentioned in Hilchot Eivel 9:2, the Rambam equates the obligation to rend one's garments over the cities of Judah, Jerusalem, and the Temple with the obligation to rend one's garments over one's parent's death. In mourning over others, one may cut one's garments with a utensil (loc. cit. 8:2). For one's parents and in these situations, the tear must be made with one's hands (loc. cit. 8:3).

Significantly, the Ra'avad objects to a complete equation between seeing these sites in destruction and one's parent's death, and therefore maintains that there is no obligation to rend one's garments with one's hands and reveal one's heart. The later halachic authorities, however, do not accept his ruling.

28.

Whenever one is required to rend one's garments, one must stand (loc. cit. 8:1).

29.

In mourning over others, one need not rend one's garments more than a handbreadth (loc. cit. 8:2). For one's parents and in these situations, one must continue tearing until one's heart is revealed (loc. cit. 8:3, 9:3).

30.

This refers to a usual pattern of stitching, which does not make it obvious that the garment had been rent. If one rends a garment using a less perfect method of sewing, it is permitted, as explained below.

The prohibition against mending one's garments in this manner applies in these instances and for one's parents. When mourning the passing of others, one may mend the garment afterwards (loc. cit. 9:1).

31.

At present, rather than rend one's garments every time one comes to Jerusalem, it is customary to sell one's garments to another person, so that it would be forbidden to tear them (see loc. cit. 8:7).

Megillah vChanukah - Chapter One

They include two positive commandments that were ordained by the Rabbis which are not included among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

The explanation of these mitzvot is contained in the following chapters.

Introduction to Hilchos Megillah vChanukah

They include two positive commandments that were ordained by the Rabbis which are not included [among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah]. The explanation of these mitzvot is contained in the following chapters.

הלכות מגילה וחנוכה - הקדמה

יש בכללן שתי מצות עשה מדברי סופרים ואינן מן המנין וביאור שתי מצות אלו בפרקים אלו:

1

It is a positive mitzvah ordained by the Rabbis to read the Megillah at the appointed time. It is well-known that this was ordained by the Prophets.

Everyone is obligated in this reading: men, women, converts, and freed slaves. Children should also be trained to read it. Even the priests should neglect their service in the Temple and come to hear the reading of the Megillah.

Similarly, Torah study should be neglected to hear the reading of the Megillah. Surely, this applies to the other mitzvot of the Torah: the observance of all of them is superseded by the reading of the Megillah. There is nothing that takes priority over the reading of the Megillah except the burial of a meit mitzvah - a corpse that has no one to take care of it. A person who encounters such a corpse should bury it and then read the Megillah.

א

קריאת המגילה בזמנה מצות עשה מדברי סופרים. והדברים ידועים שהיא תקנת הנביאים. והכל חייבים בקריאתה אנשים ונשים וגרים ועבדים משוחררים. ומחנכין את הקטנים לקרותה. ואפילו כהנים בעבודתן מבטלין עבודתן ובאין לשמוע מקרא מגילה. וכן מבטלים תלמוד תורה לשמוע מקרא מגילה קל וחומר לשאר מצות של תורה שכולן נדחין מפני מקרא מגילה. ואין לך דבר שנדחה מקרא מגילה מפניו חוץ ממת מצוה שאין לו קוברין שהפוגע בו קוברו תחלה ואחר כך קורא:

2

One can fulfill one's obligation by reading or by listening to another person's reading, provided one listens to a person who is obligated to hear the reading. For this reason, if the reader was a minor or mentally incompetent, one who hears his reading does not fulfill his obligation.

ב

אחד הקורא ואחד השומע מן הקורא יצא ידי חובתו והוא שישמע מפי מי שהוא חייב בקריאתה. לפיכך אם היה הקורא קטן או שוטה השומע ממנו לא יצא:

3

It is a mitzvah to read the entire Megillah and to read it both at night and during the day. The entire night is an appropriate time for the night reading, and the entire day is appropriate for the day reading.

Before the reading at night, one should recite three blessings. They are:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to read the Megillah.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our ancestors in previous days at this season.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

During the day, one should not recite the final blessing.

In places where it is customary to recite a blessing after the reading, the following blessing should be recited:

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who wages our battles and executes judgment on our behalf, who avenges the vengeance wrought against us, who exacts retribution from our enemies on our behalf, and who acquits justly all our mortal enemies. Blessed are You, God, the Almighty, who exacts payment on behalf of His nation Israel from all their oppressors, the God of salvation.

ג

מצוה לקרות את כולה. ומצוה לקרותה בלילה וביום. וכל הלילה כשר לקריאת הלילה. וכל היום כשר לקריאת היום. ומברך קודם קריאתה בלילה שלש ברכות ואלו הן בא"י אמ"ה אשר קב"ו על מקרא מגילה. בא"י אמ"ה שעשה נסים לאבותינו בימים ההם ובזמן הזה. בא"י אמ"ה שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה. וביום אינו חוזר ומברך שהחיינו. ומקום שנהגו לברך אחריה מברך. בא"י אמ"ה האל הרב את ריבנו והדן את דיננו והנוקם את נקמתנו והנפרע לנו מצרינו והמשלם גמול לכל אויבי נפשנו בא"י הנפרע לישראל מכל צריהם האל המושיע:

4

What is the appropriate time for the Megillah to be read? The Sages ordained many different times for its reading, as implied by Esther 9:31: "To confirm these days of Purim in their appointed times." The following are the days on which the Megillah is read:

Every city, whether in Eretz Yisrael or in the diaspora, that was surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua bin Nun should read the Megillah on the fifteenth of Adar. This applies even when a wall does not surround the city at present. Such a city is called a כרך.

Every city that was not surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua bin Nun should read the Megillah on the fourteenth of Adar. This applies even when there is a wall surrounding the city at present. Such a city is called an עיר.

ד

איזהו זמן קריאתה זמנים הרבה תקנו לה חכמים שנאמר בזמניהם. ואלו הן זמני קריאתה. כל מדינה שהיתה מוקפת חומה מימי יהושע בן נון בין בארץ בין בחוצה לארץ אע"פ שאין לה עכשיו חומה קורין בט"ו באדר ומדינה זו היא הנקראת כרך. וכל מדינה שלא היתה מוקפת חומה בימות יהושע ואע"פ שהיא מוקפת עתה קוראין בי"ד ומדינה זו היא הנקראת עיר:

5

In the capital of Shushan, the Megillah is read on the fifteenth of Adar although it was not surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua bin Nun, because the miracle occurred within it and at that time, the Jews celebrated on that day, as Esther 9:18 states, "And they rested on the fifteenth."

Why was the matter made dependent on the time of Joshua bin Nun? To give honor to the cities of Eretz Yisrael that were in ruin at the time of the Purim miracle. Although they are in ruin at present, this would allow them to read the Megillah on the fifteenth as do the inhabitants of Shushan, since they were surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua. Thus the commemoration of the miracle would include a remembrance of Eretz Yisrael.

ה

שושן הבירה אע"פ שלא היתה מוקפת חומה בימי יהושע בן נון קוראין בט"ו שבה היה הנס שנאמר ונוח בחמשה עשר בו. ולמה תלו הדבר בימי יהושע כדי לחלוק כבוד לא"י שהיתה חרבה באותו הזמן. כדי שיהיו קוראין כבני שושן ויחשבו כאילו הן כרכין המוקפין חומה אף על פי שהן עתה חרבין הואיל והיו מוקפין בימי יהושע קורין בט"ו ויהיה זכרון לארץ ישראל בנס זה:

6

The Sages ordained that the inhabitants of the villages who gather in the synagogues only on Mondays and Thursdays could read the Megillah earlier, on the day when they gather in the synagogues.

What is implied? If the fourteenth of Adar falls on either Monday or Thursday, the Megillah is read on that day. If it falls on a day other than Monday or Thursday, we read on an earlier date, on the Monday or Thursday that is closest to the fourteenth of Adar.

ו

בני הכפרים שאינם מתקבצים בבתי כנסיות אלא בשני ובחמישי תקנו להם שיהיו מקדימין וקוראים ביום הכניסה. כיצד אם חל יום י"ד להיות בשני או בחמישי קוראין בו ביום. ואם חל ביום אחר חוץ משני וחמישי מקדימין וקוראין בשני או בחמישי הסמוך לי"ד:

7

What is implied? If the fourteenth of Adar falls on Sunday, the Megillah is read on the previous Thursday, the eleventh of Adar. If the fourteenth falls on Tuesday, the Megillah is read earlier, on Monday, the thirteenth. If the fourteenth falls on Wednesday, the Megillah is read earlier, on Monday, the twelfth.

Whenever license is granted to read the Megillah before the fourteenth, it should not be read unless ten are present.

ז

כיצד חל י"ד להיות באחד בשבת מקדימין וקוראין בחמישי שהוא יום י"א. חל להיות בשלישי קוראין בשני שהוא יום י"ג. חל להיות ברביעי קוראין בשני שהוא יום י"ב. וכל אלו שמקדימין וקוראין קודם י"ד אין קוראין אותה בפחות מעשרה:

8

In a village where the Jews do not gather together to read the Torah on Mondays and Thursdays, the Megillah should be read only on the fourteenth of Adar. When a city does not have ten people who have no other occupation but to attend the synagogue for communal purposes, it is considered to be a village, and the Megillah is read earlier, on the day when people gather in the synagogue.

If a city lacks ten adult men, the very difficulty leads to its solution, and they are considered to be like the inhabitants of a large city and read the Megillah only on the fourteenth.

ח

כפר שמקדימין וקוראין ביום הכניסה בזמן שאין נכנסין בו בשני ובחמישי אין קוראין אותה אלא בי"ד. וכל עיר שאין בה עשרה בטלנין קבועין בבית הכנסת לצרכי הצבור הרי היא ככפר ומקדימין וקוראין ביום הכניסה. ואם אין שם עשרה בני אדם תקנתו קלקלתו והרי הם כאנשי עיר גדולה ואין קוראין אלא בי"ד:

9

When does the above leniency - that it is possible to read the Megillah earlier, on the day people gather in the synagogue - apply? When Israel rules itself. In the present era, however, the Megillah is read only at its appropriate times, the fourteenth of Adar and the fifteenth. The inhabitants of villages and cities read on the fourteenth, and the inhabitants of walled cities read on the fifteenth.

ט

במה דברים אמורים שמקדימין וקוראין ביום הכניסה בזמן שיש להם לישראל מלכות. אבל בזמן הזה אין קוראין אותה אלא בזמנה שהוא יום י"ד ויום ט"ו. בני הכפרים ובני עיירות קוראין בי"ד. ובני כרכין קוראין בט"ו.

10

The following rules apply when an inhabitant of an unwalled city travels to a walled city, or an inhabitant of a walled city travels to an unwalled city:

If his intent was to return home for the day of the Megillah reading, but he was prevented from returning, he should read the Megillah on the day when it is read in his home. If his intent was not to return home until after the day of the Megillah reading, he should read the Megillah together with the people in the place where he is visiting.

The following rule applies to all those homes adjacent to a walled city which are seen together with it: If there are not more than two thousand cubits between them, they are considered to be part of the walled city, and their inhabitants should read the Megillah on the fifteenth.

י

בן עיר שהלך לכרך או בן כרך שהלך לעיר אם היה דעתו לחזור למקומו בזמן קריאה ונתעכב ולא חזר קורא כמקומו. ואם לא היה בדעתו לחזור אלא לאחר זמן הקריאה קורא עם אנשי המקום שהוא שם. וכרך וכל הסמוך לו וכל הנראה עמו אם אין ביניהם יתר על אלפים אמה הרי זה ככרך וקוראין בט"ו.

11

When a doubt exists and it is unknown whether a city had been surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua bin Nun or whether it was surrounded afterwards, its inhabitants should read the Megillah on the day and the night of both the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar. They should recite the blessing only when reading on the fourteenth, since this is the time when the Megillah is read in most places in the world.

יא

עיר שהיא ספק ואין ידוע אם היתה מוקפת חומה בימות יהושע בן נון או אחר כן הוקפה קוראין בשני הימים שהן י"ד וט"ו ובליליהם. ומברכין על קריאתה בי"ד בלבד הואיל והיא זמן קריאתה לרוב העולם:

12

When the Megillah was read in the first month of Adar and, afterwards, the court proclaimed a leap year, the Megillah should be read again in the second month of Adar at its appropriate time.

יב

קראו את המגילה באדר ראשון ואחר כך עיברו בית דין את השנה חוזרים וקוראים אותה באדר השני בזמנה:

13

The Megillah should not be read on the Sabbath. This is a decree, enacted so that one should not take it in one's hands and bring it to a person who knows how to read it, thus carrying it four cubits in the public domain. Everyone is obligated to read the Megillah, but everyone is not capable of reading it. Thus, there is the possibility for such an error to occur.

For this reason, if the appropriate time for the Megillah to be read falls on the Sabbath, we read it earlier, on the day prior to the Sabbath. We discuss the laws of Purim on that Sabbath to commemorate the fact that it is Purim.

יג

אין קוראין את המגילה בשבת גזירה שמא יטול אותה בידו וילך אצל מי שהוא בקי לקרותה ויעבירנה ארבע אמות ברשות הרבים. שהכל חייבים בקריאתה ואין הכל בקיאין בקריאתה. לפיכך אם חל זמן קריאתה בשבת מקדימין וקוראין אותה קודם השבת. ושואלין ודורשין בהלכות פורים באותה שבת כדי להזכיר שהוא פורים:

14

What is implied? When the fourteenth of Adar falls on the Sabbath, the inhabitants of the unwalled cities should read the Megillah earlier, on Friday. The inhabitants of the walled cities should read it at their appropriate time, on Sunday.

When the fifteenth falls on the Sabbath, the inhabitants of the walled cities read the Megillah earlier, on Friday the fourteenth. The inhabitants of the unwalled cities also read on that day, for this is the appropriate time for them to read. Thus in such an instance, everyone reads on the fourteenth.

יד

כיצד יום ארבעה עשר שחל להיות בשבת בני עיירות מקדימין וקוראין בערב שבת ובני כרכים קוראים בזמנם באחד בשבת. חל יום ט"ו להיות בשבת בני כרכים מקדימין וקוראין בערב שבת שהוא יום ארבעה עשר ובני עיירות קוראין בו ביום שהוא זמנם ונמצאו הכל קוראין בארבעה עשר

Megillah vChanukah - Chapter Two

1

When a person reads the Megillah in improper sequence, he does not fulfill his obligation. If a person was reading, forgot a verse and read the following verse, went back and read the verse he forgot, and then read a third verse, he does not fulfill his obligation, because he read a verse in improper sequence. What should he do instead? He should begin from the second verse, the verse he forgot, and continue reading the Megillah in its proper order.

א

הקורא את המגילה למפרע לא יצא. קרא ושכח פסוק אחד וקרא פסוק שני לו וחזר וקרא פסוק ששכח וחזר וקרא פסוק שלישי לא יצא מפני שקרא פסוק אחד למפרע. אלא כיצד עושה מתחיל מפסוק שני ששכח וקורא על הסדר:

2

Should one encounter a congregation that has already read half of the Megillah, one should not say, "I will read the latter half together with this congregation, and then go back and read the first half," for this is reading in improper sequence. Instead, one should read the entire Megillah from beginning to end in order.

When a person reads a portion and pauses and then goes back and continues reading, since he read in order, he fulfills his obligation, even though the entire Megillah could have been read while he had paused.

ב

מצא צבור שקראו חציה לא יאמר אקרא חציה האחרון עם הצבור ואחזור ואקרא חציה ראשון שזה קורא למפרע. אלא קורא מתחילה ועד סוף על הסדר. קרא ושהה מעט וחזר וקרא אף על פי ששהה כדי לגמור את כולה הואיל וקרא על הסדר יצא:

3

A person who reads the Megillah by heart does not fulfill his obligation. A person who speaks a language other than Hebrew and hears the Megillah read in Hebrew written in the holy script fulfills his obligation, although he does not understand what is being read. Similarly, if the Megillah was written in Greek, a person who hears it, even one who speaks Hebrew, fulfills his obligation although he does not understand what is being read.

ג

הקורא את המגילה על פה לא יצא ידי חובתו. הלועז ששמע את המגילה הכתובה בלשון הקדש ובכתב הקדש אף על פי שאינו יודע מה הן אומרין יצא ידי חובתו. וכן אם היתה כתובה יונית ושמעה יצא אע"פ שאינו מכיר ואפילו היה השומע עברי:

4

If, however, it was written in Aramaic or in another language of gentile origin, one who listens to this reading fulfills his obligation only when he understands that language and only when the Megillah is written in that language.

In contrast, if the Megillah was written in Hebrew and one read in Aramaic for a person who understood that tongue, one does not fulfill one's obligation, for one is reading by heart. And since the reader cannot fulfill his obligation, the person hearing it read by him also cannot.

ד

היתה כתובה תרגום או בלשון אחרת מלשונות הגוים לא יצא ידי חובתו בקריאתה אלא המכיר אותו הלשון בלבד. והוא שתהיה כתובה בכתב אותו הלשון. אבל אם היה כתובה בכתב עברי וקראה ארמית לארמי לא יצא שנמצא זה קורא על פה. וכיון שלא יצא ידי חובתו הקורא לא יצא השומע ממנו:

5

A person who was reading the Megillah without the desired intent does not fulfill his obligation. What is implied? That he was writing a Megillah, explaining it, or checking it: If he had the intent to fulfill his obligation with this reading, his obligation is fulfilled. If he did not have this intent, he did not fulfill his obligation. Should one read while dozing off, he fulfills his obligation, since he is not sound asleep.

ה

הקורא את המגילה בלא כוונה לא יצא. כיצד היה כותבה או דורשה או מגיהה אם כיון את לבו לצאת בקריאה זו יצא ואם לא כיון לבו לא יצא. קרא והוא מתנמנם הואיל ולא נרדם בשינה יצא:

6

When does the statement that a person can fulfill his obligation by reading when writing a Megillah apply? When he intends to fulfill his obligation to read it by reading from the scroll which he is copying. If, however, he intends to fulfill his obligation by reading the scroll that he is writing at present, he does not fulfill his obligation, for one can fulfill one's obligation only by reading from a scroll that was completely written at the time of the reading.

ו

בד"א שהמכוין לבו בכתיבה יצא בשנתכוון לצאת בקריאה שקורא בספר שמעתיק ממנו בשעה שהוא כותב, אבל אם נתכוון לצאת בקריאה זו שכותב לא יצא, שאינו יוצא ידי חובתו אלא בקריאתה מספר שכולה כתובה בו בשעת קריאה.

7

A person who errs while reading the Megillah and reads in an inexact manner fulfills his obligation, for we are not required to read in a precise manner.

A person fulfills his obligation whether he reads it standing or sitting. This applies even when reading for a congregation. Nevertheless, at the outset, out of respect for the congregation, one should not read for the congregation while sitting.

If two, and even if ten, people read the Megillah in unison, both the readers and those who listen to the readers fulfill their obligation. An adult and a child can read the Megillah together, even for the community.

ז

הקורא את המגילה וטעה בקריאתה וקרא קריאה משובשת יצא, לפי שאין מדקדקין בקריאתה, קראה עומד או יושב יצא ואפילו בצבור, אבל לא יקרא בצבור יושב לכתחלה מפני כבוד הצבור, קראוה שנים אפילו עשרה כאחד יצאו הקוראין והשומעים מן הקוראין, וקורא אותה גדול עם הקטן ואפילו בצבור.

8

We should not read the Megillah for a congregation from a scroll that contains the other Sacred Writings. Should one read for the congregation from such a scroll, no one fulfills their obligation, unless the portions of parchment on which it is written are larger or smaller than those of the remainder for the scroll, so that it will be distinct.

An individual reading for himself, by contrast, may read from such a scroll even though the portion containing the Megillah is not larger or smaller than the remainder of the scroll, and thus fulfill his obligation.

ח

אין קוראין בצבור במגילה הכתובה בין הכתובים, ואם קרא לא יצא, אלא אם כן היתה יתירה על שאר היריעות או חסירה כדי שיהא לה הכר, אבל יחיד קורא בה ואפילו אינה חסרה ולא יתרה ויוצא בה ידי חובתו.

9

A Megillah may be written only with ink on g'vil or on k'laf, like a Torah scroll. If it was written with gall-nut juice or vitriol it is acceptable, but if it was written with other tints it is not acceptable.

It must be written on ruled parchment like a Torah scroll. The parchment need not, however, be processed with the intent that it be used for the mitzvah. If it was written on paper or on an animal hide that was not processed or if it was written by a gentile or by a non-believer, it is not acceptable.

ט

אין כותבין את המגילה אלא בדיו על הגויל או על הקלף כספר תורה, ואם כתבה במי עפצא וקלקנתוס כשרה, כתבה בשאר מיני צבעונין פסולה, וצריכה שרטוט כתורה עצמה, ואין העור שלה צריך עבדה לשמה, היתה כתובה על הנייר או על עור שאינו מעובד או שכתבה גוי או מין פסולה.

10

The following rules apply when the letters of a Megillah are rubbed out or torn: If a trace of the letters is discernible, the scroll is acceptable, even if most of the letters have been rubbed out. If no trace of the letters is discernible, the scroll is acceptable if the majority of its letters are intact. If not, it is not acceptable.

If the scribe left out certain letters or verses and the reader reads them by heart, he fulfills his obligation.

י

היו בה אותיות מטושטשות או מקורעות, אם רישומן ניכר אפילו היו רובה כשרה, ואם אין רישומן ניכר אם היה רובה שלם כשרה, ואם לאו פסולה, השמיט בה סופר אותיות או פסוקים וקראן הקורא על פה יצא.

11

A Megillah must be sewn together - i.e., all the parchments on which it is written must be joined as a single scroll. It should be sewn only with animal sinews, as a Torah scroll is. If it is sewn with other thread, it is unacceptable.

It is not necessary, however, to sew the entire length of the parchment with animal sinews, as a Torah scroll is sewn. As long as one sews three stitches at one end of the parchment, three stitches in the middle, and three stitches at the other end, it is acceptable. This leniency is taken, because the Megillah is referred to as an "epistle" Esther 9:29.

יא

המגילה צריכה תפירה עד שיהיו כל עורותיה מגילה אחת, ואינה נתפרת אלא בגידין כספר תורה, ואם תפרה שלא בגידין פסולה, ואינו צריך לתפור את כל היריעה בגידין כספר תורה אלא אפילו תפר בגידין שלש תפירות בקצה היריעה ושלש באמצעה ושלש בקצה השני כשרה מפני שנקראת אגרת.

12

The reader should read the names of Haman's ten sons and the word which follows, asseret Esther 9:7-10, in one breath, to show the entire people that they were all hung and slain together.

It is a universally accepted Jewish custom that as the reader of the Megillah reads, he spreads the text out as an epistle (to show the miracle). When he concludes, he goes back, rolls up the entire text, and recites the concluding blessing.

יב

וצריך הקורא לקרות עשרת בני המן ועשרת בנשימה אחת כדי להודיע לכל העם שכולם נתלו ונהרגו כאחד, ומנהג כל ישראל שהקורא את המגילה קורא ופושט כאגרת (להראות הנס) וכשיגמור חוזר וכורכה כולה ומברך.

13

On these two days, the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar, it is forbidden to eulogize and to fast. This prohibition applies to all people in all places, to the inhabitants of the walled cities who celebrate only the fifteenth and to the inhabitants of the unwalled cities who celebrate only the fourteenth.

In a leap year, it is forbidden to eulogize and to fast on these two dates in the first Adar as well as in the second Adar. When the inhabitants of the villages read the Megillah earlier, on the Monday or Thursday before Purim, they are permitted to eulogize and to fast on the day they read the Megillah, and are forbidden to eulogize and to fast on these two dates, even though they do not read the Megillah on them.

יג

שני הימים האלו שהן ארבעה עשר וחמשה עשר אסורין בהספד ותענית לכל אדם בכל מקום, בין לבני כרכין שהן עושין חמשה עשר בלבד, בין לבני עיירות שהן עושין ארבעה עשר בלבד, ושני הימים אסורין בהספד ותענית באדר הראשון ובאדר השני, אנשי כפרים שהקדימו וקראו בשני או בחמישי הסמוך לפורים מותרים בהספד ותענית ביום קריאתן ואסורין בהספד ותענית בשני הימים האלו אע"פ שאין קוראין בהן.

14

It is a mitzvah for the inhabitants of the villages and unwalled cities to consider the fourteenth of Adar - and for the inhabitants of the walled cities to consider the fifteenth of Adar - as a day of happiness and festivity, when portions of food are sent to one's friends and presents are given to the poor.

It is permitted to work on these days. It is not, however, proper to do so. Our Sages declared, "Whoever works on Purim will never see a sign of blessing."

Should the inhabitants of the villages read the Megillah earlier, on a Monday or a Thursday, and give monetary gifts to the poor on the day on which they read, they fulfill their obligation. The rejoicing and festivities of the Purim holiday, by contrast, should be held only on the day of the fourteenth. If they are held earlier, the participants do not fulfill their obligation. A person who conducts the Purim feast at night does not fulfill his obligation.

יד

מצות יום ארבעה עשר לבני כפרים ועיירות ויום חמשה עשר לבני כרכים להיות יום שמחה ומשתה ומשלוח מנות לריעים ומתנות לאביונים, ומותר בעשיית מלאכה ואע"פ כן אין ראוי לעשות בו מלאכה, אמרו חכמים כל העושה מלאכה ביום פורים אינו רואה סימן ברכה לעולם. בני כפרים שקדמו וקראו בשני או בחמישי אם חלקו מעות לאביונים ביום קריאתן יצאו, אבל השמחה והמשתה אין עושין אותה אלא ביום ארבעה עשר, ואם הקדימו לא יצאו, וסעודת פורים שעשאה בלילה לא יצא ידי חובתו.

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. He should drink wine until he becomes intoxicated and falls asleep in a stupor.

Similarly, a person is obligated to send two portions of meat, two other cooked dishes, or two other foods to a friend, as implied by Esther 9:22, "sending portions of food one to another" - i.e., two portions to one friend. Whoever sends portions to many friends is praiseworthy. If one does not have the means to send presents of food to a friend, one should exchange one's meal with him, each one sending the other what they had prepared for the Purim feast and in this way fulfill the mitzvah of sending presents of food to one's friends.

טו

כיצד חובת סעודה זו שיאכל בשר ויתקן סעודה נאה כפי אשר תמצא ידו, ושותה יין עד שישתכר וירדם בשכרות. וכן חייב אדם לשלוח שתי מנות של בשר או שני מיני תבשיל או שני מיני אוכלין לחבירו שנאמר ומשלוח מנות איש לרעהו שתי מנות לאיש אחד, וכל המרבה לשלוח לריעים משובח, ואם אין לו מחליף עם חברו זה שולח לזה סעודתו וזה שולח לזה סעודתו כדי לקיים ומשלוח מנות איש לרעהו.

16

One is obligated to distribute charity to the poor on the day of Purim. At the very least, to give each of two poor people one present, be it money, cooked dishes, or other foods, as implied by Esther 9:22 "gifts to the poor" - i.e., two gifts to two poor people.

We should not be discriminating in selecting the recipients of these Purim gifts. Instead, one should give to whomever stretches out his hand. Money given to be distributed on Purim should not be used for other charitable purposes.

טז

וחייב לחלק לעניים ביום הפורים, אין פחות משני עניים נותן לכל אחד מתנה אחת או מעות או מיני תבשיל או מיני אוכלין שנאמר ומתנות לאביונים שתי מתנות לשני עניים, ואין מדקדקין במעות פורים אלא כל הפושט ידו ליטול נותנין לו, ואין משנין מעות פורים לצדקה אחרת.

17

It is preferable for a person to be more liberal with his donations to the poor than to be lavish in his preparation of the Purim feast or in sending portions to his friends. For there is no greater and more splendid happiness than to gladden the hearts of the poor, the orphans, the widows, and the converts.

One who brings happiness to the hearts of these unfortunate individuals resembles the Divine Presence, which Isaiah 57:15 describes as having the tendency "to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive those with broken hearts."

יז

מוטב לאדם להרבות במתנות אביונים מלהרבות בסעודתו ובשלוח מנות לרעיו, שאין שם שמחה גדולה ומפוארה אלא לשמח לב עניים ויתומים ואלמנות וגרים, שהמשמח לב האמללים האלו דומה לשכינה שנאמר להחיות רוח שפלים ולהחיות לב נדכאים.

18

All the books of the Prophets and all the Holy Writings will be nullified in the Messianic era, with the exception of the Book of Esther. It will continue to exist, as will the five books of the Torah and the halachot of the Oral Law, which will never be nullified.

Although all memories of the difficulties endured by our people will be nullified, as Isaiah 65:16 states: "For the former difficulties will be forgotten and for they will be hidden from My eye," the celebration of the days of Purim will not be nullified, as Esther 9:28 states: "And these days of Purim will not pass from among the Jews, nor will their remembrance cease from their seed."

יח

כל ספרי הנביאים וכל הכתובים עתידין ליבטל לימות המשיח חוץ ממגילת אסתר הרי היא קיימת כחמשה חומשי תורה וכהלכות של תורה שבעל פה שאינן בטלין לעולם, ואע"פ שכל זכרון הצרות יבטל שנאמר כי נשכחו הצרות הראשונות וכי נסתרו מעיני, ימי הפורים לא יבטלו שנאמר וימי הפורים האלה לא יעברו מתוך היהודים וזכרם לא יסוף מזרעם.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in the one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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