Ta’anit EstherFast of Esther

Erev Purim, 13 Adar, is a fast day known as the “Fast of Esther” (see p. 108 for the significance of this name).

)שו"ע סי' תרפ"ו סעי' ב)

The fast begins at alot hashachar — the break of dawn — and one must fast till after Ma’ariv and the reading of the Megillah is completed.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ב סעי' ד)

Before Minchah it is customary to commemorate the half-shekel that was given during the month of Adar when the Beit Hamikdash was standing. Since the word terumah — “offering” — is mentioned three times in the Biblical portion (Shemot 30:11-16) which discusses the half-shekel, we give three coins which are half the local currency (e.g. three half-dollars in the U.S.).

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ד סעי' א)

The half-shekel should not be from one’s ma’aseir funds.

(באר היטב סי' תרצ"ד סק"ב)

There are various opinions as to at what age the obligation begins to give a half-shekel. TheChabad custom is to give for every member of the family regardless of age.

(ספר המנהגים חב"ד, ועי' משנה ברורה תרצ"ד סק"ה, ומג"א ס"ק ג)

When Purim falls on Sunday, the fast and the giving of the half-shekel takes place on the preceding Thursday.

(שו"ע תרפ"ו סעי' ב)


Megillah Reading

Men, women, and children must hear the Megillah on Purim night and again on Purim day. At night it should be read after tzeit hakochavim — stars appear — and in the morning after neitz hachamah — sunrise.

(שו"ע סי' תרפ"ט, סעי' א, ו, סי' תרפ"ז, סעי' א, ועי' משנה ברורה סי' תרצ"ב סעי' ד)

Preferably it should be read in ashul and in the presence of a minyan of ten men, so that it will accomplish pirsumei nisa — publicizing of the miracle — and also so that it will be in accordance with the principle “Berov am hadrat melech” — “In the multitude of people is the King’s glory” (Proverbs 14:28).

(שו"ע תר"צ סעי' י"ח, ועי' מ"ב וביה"ל)

Before the reading of the Megillah the reader opens his Megillah in the manner of a letter and threeberachot are recited (see p. 24). He should intend that the congregation can fulfill through him their obligation for the berachot and the reading. The listeners should have the intent to fulfill their obligation.

(שו"ע תר"צ סעי' י"ז, לוח חב"ד)

The Chabad custom is that the reader and the listeners open their Megillah in the manner of a letter (folded three times) before the berachot are recited.

(ספר המנהגים חב"ד)

Everyone should listen carefully to the berachot and not interrupt by answering “Baruch Hu ubaruch Shemo.” One should simply answer Amein at the conclusion of eachberachah.

(ערוך השלחן סי' תרצ"ב סעי' א, ועי' נטעי גבריאל סי' י"ח:ה)

The reader must stand while reciting the berachot and reading the Megillah in public. The listeners may sit. However, when the berachot are recited, all must stand.

(שו"ע סי' תר"צ סעי' א, ועי' מגן אברהם)

It is forbidden to make an interruption until the conclusion of the blessing which is recited after the reading. If the reader or the listener misses one word, he does not fulfill his obligation, and the reader must return to the word missed.

(שו"ע סי' תר"צ סעי' י"ד ועי' בביה"ל, וסי' תרצ"ב סעי' ב ומ"ב סק"ט)

Unless the listener is holding a kosher Megillah, he should not read along with the reader.

(שו"ע סי' תר"צ סעי' ד)

During the reading, when the name of Haman is mentioned, it is customary to “bang” or stamp with the feet, etc. In Chabad this is done only when his name is accompanied by a description such as “Agagi” etc. The reader should stop and not resume till absolute quiet prevails.

(שו"ע תר"צ סעי' י"ז, ועי' משנה ברורה)

It is customary for the entire congregation to read four verses aloud: “Ish Yehudi” (2:5), “U’Mordechai yatza” (8:15), “LaYehudim...” (8:16), and “Ki Mordechai...” (10:3). Each time the reader repeats them afterwards.

(שם)

The names of Haman’s ten sons (9:7-9) should be read in one breath. This includes the preceding words, “Chameish mei’ot ish,” and the following word “aseret.”

(שם, סעי' ט"ו)

The Chabad custom is that this is also read by the listeners first, with one breath (see p. 169).

(לוח כולל חב"ד)

The phrase, “Laharog ule’abeid” (8:11) should be reread as “Velaharog Ule’abeid.” Similarly, the phrase “Ve’ish lo amad bifeneihem” (9:2) should be reread as “Ve’ish lo amad Lifeneihem.”

(לקוטי מהרי"ח בשם חתם סופר, וספר המנהגים חב"ד)

When the reader pronounces the phrases, “Ha’iggeret hazot” — “this letter” (9:26), and “Iggeret haPurim hazot” — “this Purim letter” (9:29) the Megillah should be shaken.

(שו"ע סי' תר"צ מגן אברהם ס"ק י"ז וספר המנהגים חב"ד)

After the reading of the Megillah, the berachah, “Harav et riveinu” is recited.

There are different customs as to whether only the reader recites the berachah or whether the listeners also do so, and whether the rolling up of the Megillah is done before the berachah or afterwards, and if the berachah is recited only when the Megillah is read in public.

The Chabad custom is that the berachah is recited only by the reader. It is recited before the Megillah is rolled up and only when the Megillah is read in public (with a quorum of ten men).

(שו"ע סי' תר"צ סעי' י"ז וסי' תרצ"ב סעי' א, באה"ט וביה"ל, נטעי גבריאל סי' י"ט, לוח חב"ד ושיחת כ"ק אדמו"ר פורים תשט"ז עמ' מ)

Afterwards all recite, Asher heini,” followed by “Shoshanat Yaakov.” Chabad custom is to sayonly “Shoshanat Yaakov.”

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ב סעי' א, סידור נוסח אר"י)

All the details regarding the Megillah reading apply equally at night and during the day, except that when it is read during the day, during Shacharit, the Rashi tefillin are worn and Asher heini” is not recited.

(ספר המנהגים חב"ד ועי' נטעי גבריאל סי' כ"ב:ח ושו"ע סי' תרצ"ב סעי' א)

During the day when the berachah of Shehechiyanu is recited, everyone should also have in mind themitzvot of mishlo’ach manot — sending portions of edibles to friends — matanot le’evyonim — gifts to the poor — and the se’udah — festive meal.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ב באר היטב סק"א)


Mishlo’ach Manot — Sending of Edibles

Every person is obligated to send on Purim day, at least two portions of foods e.g. cake and wine, to at least one other person. A man should send to another man, and a woman should send to another woman.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ה סעי' ד)

It is customary to send the portions with a messenger. The messenger may be a minor.

(עי' מ"ב שם, עי' נטע גבריאל סי' ל"א)

Young children should send to their friends.

(פמ"ג בא"א סי' תרצ"ה, ועי' נטעי גבריאל סי' ל)


Matanot Le’evyonim — Gifts to the Poor

Every person is obligated to give on Purim day at least two presents to two poor people (i.e. one to each).

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ד סעי' א)

The present can be money or food.

(מ"ב, שם)

A man may give a present to a poor woman.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ד סעי' ד)

Young children, too, should be trained to do this mitzvah.

(שערי הלכה ומנהג ח"ב ע' רצ"ו)

The money given as matanot le’evyonim should not be from ma’aseir funds. This should at least be the case with the money used for the basic fulfillment of the mitzvah, i.e. one gift to two people.

(באר היטב סי' תרצ"ב סק"ב ועי' נטעי גבריאל סי' כ"ה:י"ג)

If there are no poor people present, one should put the money aside, and give it to the poor when he has an opportunity.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ד סעי' ד)

A person who gives many portions of food to friends and presents to the poor is praiseworthy. It is, however, preferable to give generously to the poor than to prepare a lavish Purim feast or to give many portions to one’s friends. For there is no greater and more beautiful happiness than to bring joy to the hearts of the poor, the orphans, and the widows. Such a person resembles Hashem, Who is praised by the prophet (Isaiah 57:15) for, “Reviving the spirit of the lowly and reviving those with crushed hearts.”

(רמב"ם הל' מגילה פ"ב הלי"ז)


Purim Seudah Festive Meal

It is customary to recite the afternoon service early in the afternoon and then hold the Purim feast.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ה סעי' ב)

Even when the feast is prolonged past nightfall, one should include the passage, “Ve’al Hanissim” in Grace after meals because the feast was begun during the day.

(שם סעי' ג)

If one so desires he may hold the feast in the morning.

(שם סעי' ב)

Before commencing the meal, one should engage a bit in the study of Torah.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ה סעי' ב)

It is customary to drink wine during the meal.

(מס' מגילה דף ז' ע"ב, רש"י)

It is customary to eat krepchen on Purim (see p. 176).

It is customary to eat haman-tashen on Purim. One reason is that in Hebrew the word “tash” means “weak.” The miracle of Purim was that Hashem weakened the mighty Haman, who wanted to annihilate the Jewish people, and he was made powerless.

(אוצר כל מנהגי ישרון)

The haman-tash is triangular to resemble Haman’s hat, and it is filled with poppy seeds as a remembrance for the ten thousand silver talents Haman was ready to give to the King’s treasury for the annihilation.

(אוצר דינים ומנהגים)

When Purim falls on Friday, the festive meal should be made in the morning before noon.

(שו"ע סי' תרצ"ה סעי' ב, ועי' שו"ע הרב סי' רמ"ט וקצות השלחן סי' ס"ט בבדי השלחן סק"ח)