The verse in Megillat Esther states, “Consequently, these days are recalled and observed in every generation, by every family, in every province, and in every city; and these days of Purim shall never cease among the Jews and their memory shall never perish among their descendants.” Rashi comments on the words “By every family”: “They gather together and eat and drink together; this is the manner in which they accepted upon themselves that the days of Purim shall not cease.” This means that the Jews in the times of Mordechai and Esther accepted upon themselves that in every subsequent generation, all family members would gather together in feasting, for when the entire family gathers together, this enhances the joyful occasion, as they would do for special parties and events. It is therefore a Mitzvah to rejoice in this way on Purim day.
Thus, the Sefer Seder Ha’Yom (authored by Rabbeinu Moshe ben Machir, a great Mekubal who lived in the times of the saintly Ari z”l) writes that on Purim, one should stay at one’s table longer than one usually would and eat and drink more that one is generally accustomed to. One should likewise gather all one’s family and friends around one table as one would at special parties, for this greatly enhances one’s joy on Purim day. However, when one sits all alone, one cannot truly rejoice. The Poskim quote these words of the Seder Ha’Yom. Thus, one must do his utmost to invite one’s friends and relatives to partake of the Purim feast along with one’s family and use this opportunity to rejoice and offer thanksgiving to Hashem for His never-ending miracles.
When the Purim Feast Continues into Motza’ei Purim
The Poskim discuss whether or not one should recite “Al Ha’Nissim” in Birkat Hamazon following the Purim feast which continues on into Motza’ei Purim. This is a question that can be posed almost every week when Seudah Shelishit (the third Shabbat meal) continues on into Motza’ei Shabbat. Should “Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu” be inserted into Birkat Hamazon or not in such a situation?
The Orchot Chaim (Hilchot Purim, Chapter 35) writes in the name of Rabbeinu Yitzchak of Corbeil that even if the Purim feast extends until several hours after Purim has already ended, one should recite “Al Ha’Nissim” in Birkat Hamazon. The Hagahot Maimoni (Chapter 2 of Hilchot Megillah) rules likewise in the name of his teacher, Maharam of Rottenberg. Nevertheless, the Rosh writes in a response (Chapter 22, Section 6) that if Purim has already ended, one should not recite “Al Ha’Nissim” since it is no longer Purim and it would not make sense to recite “That you have performed for our forefathers in those days, at this time.”
The Tur (Chapter 695) rules in accordance with his father, the Rosh, that if one began the Purim feast on Purim day and the meal continues into the following night, one should not recite “Al Ha’Nissim” in Birkat Hamazon.
Maran quotes all of these Poskim in his commentary, Bet Yosef (Chapter 188), and rules in his Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) regarding Shabbat, “If one was eating and Shabbat has concluded, one should insert ‘Retzeh Ve’Hachalitzenu’ into one’s Birkat Hamazon.” Maran rules likewise regarding Purim (in Chapter 695) that if one began the Purim feast on Purim day and the meal extends into the following night, one should recite ‘Al Ha’Nissim’ in Birkat Hamazon, for the determining factor regarding this law is the beginning of the meal. Thus, this is indeed the Halacha for both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews in that even if the meal extends well into the night, one should nevertheless recite “Al Ha’Nissim” in Birkat Hamazon. Although it is technically no longer Purim, this meal is nonetheless connected to Purim day. If one forgets to insert “Al Ha’Nissim” in Birkat Hamazon of Purim, one would not repeat Birkat Hamazon. The same law applies regarding inserting “Al Ha’Nissim” into all Amida prayers of Purim in that if one forgot to do so, one would not repeat one’s Amida prayer.