Halacha for Tuesday 9 Adar 5777 March 7 2017

The Mitzvah of Joy and Torah Learning on Purim Day

There is a Mitzvah eat heartily during the Purim Feast. One should preferably eat bread during this meal.

The Rambam (Chapter 2 of Hilchot Megillah, Halacha 15) writes: “What is the extent of one’s obligation during this feast? One should eat meat and prepare a delicious meal to the best of one’s ability. One should drink wine and become intoxicated until one dozes off in one’s drunkenness.” The Meiri (Megillah 7b) writes: “On Purim, one is obligated to increase one’s joy, eating, and drinking etc. Nevertheless, we are not commanded to drink so much and become so drunk to the extent that we will cause ourselves self-degradation through our happiness, for we were never commanded in a joy of frivolity and foolishness; rather, we were commanded to observe a joy of enjoyment through which we can reach the love of Hashem and praising Him for the miracles He has performed for us.”

Based on this, even if one feels that it would be uncharacteristic of him to start speaking words of Torah and singing songs of holiness, nevertheless, one should certainly do so at least during this feast on Purim day which has the potential of being a meal laden with joy of the Mitzvot and love for Hashem or turning into, G-d-forbid, an empty meal surrounded by foolishness and silliness. By asserting one’s self in this manner, one will merit being respected by all those who see him and one will thereby transform one’s household into one of love of Torah and fear of Heaven.

It is proper that every single individual sit down and learn for one hour before the Purim Feast, either some Midrashim or commentaries surrounding Megillat Esther, to each his own. Indeed, the verse states, “The Jews had light and joy” and our Sages expound in Masechet Megillah (16b) that “light” refers to Torah. This is especially true since during the times of the miracle of Purim, the Jewish nation joyously accepted upon themselves all of the laws of the Torah, as the Gemara in Masechet Shabbat (88a) states that they accepted the Torah once again in the days of Achashverosh.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Chazon Ovadia-Purim, page 181) that since everyone is busy with the Purim feast and the other Mitzvot of the day, it is imperative to learn Torah on this day, for Torah learning is what causes the world to continue to exist, as the verse states, “Were it not for my covenant (i.e. Torah learning) day and night, I would not have established the laws of heaven and earth.” The great Poskim have already brought up this point.

A story is recounted that the great Rebbe, Harav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk once told his disciples that it once occurred on a certain Purim that the entire world was busy with the various Mitzvot of the day and precisely at that moment, the Gaon of Biala sat down to learn Torah; in his merit, the entire world continued to exist. This caused a great stir in Heaven, for without him, there would have been an hour where the world was devoid of Torah learning. He was therefore rewarded by Heaven with a son who possessed a lofty soul, none other than the Gaon of Sochatchov, the saintly author of the “Avnei Nezer,” who illuminated the eyes of the Jewish nation with his Torah (and would eventually become the son-in-law of the Kotzker Rebbe).

Thus, one must be certain leave at least one spare hour on Purim day for Torah learning and one will indeed be handsomely rewarded by Heaven. It is preferable to do so immediately upon returning home from Shacharit prayers at which time one should learn whatever one wishes for as long as possible. This can also be done while one is still in the synagogue. One should see to it not to be idle from Torah on this great and holy day.

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