Halacha for Wednesday 12 Adar 5781 February 24 2021

The Mitzvah of the Purim Feast This Year (5781)

Holding the Purim Feast at Night
The holiday of Purim is different than all other holidays we celebrate in that whereas regarding other holidays the Mitzvah of partaking of a joyous holiday meal applies during the day and night, regarding the holiday of Purim, there is only a Mitzvah to hold a feast during the day, not at night. Nevertheless, several Rishonim write that there is a Mitzvah to have a meal on the night of Purim as well as we find by all other holidays. This is indeed the opinion of the Geonim. Halachically speaking, however, the primary Purim feast must be held specifically during the day. If one holds his Purim feast only at night, one has not fulfilled one’s obligation, as the verse states, “Days of feasting and merriment,” which teaches us that the feast must be held during the day. When the meal is held during the day, it should be held in a well-lit area amid much joy and speaking words of Torah. One should indeed be glad with what Hashem has provided him, that he has separated us from those who have gone astray, and that He has given us His true and eternal Torah which provides us with good and just laws to follow in order to allow us entry into the World to Come.

The Proper Time for the Purim Feast
The proper time to hold the Purim feast every year is during the day, as we have mentioned. The Poskim point out that one should preferably not hold the Purim feast close to sunset, i.e. close to the end of Purim, for then, the primary joy would not be experienced during the day of Purim at all. Therefore, they write that one should try to begin the Purim feast as early as possible. There are several other reasons for this as well.

Many have the custom to pray Mincha Gedola, i.e. praying Mincha at an early hour, and to begin their Purim feast immediately thereafter. Those who are truly meticulous about their Mitzvah observance hold their Purim feast in the morning, before the time for Mincha prayers arrives. This is indeed the opinion of several Poskim, including the saintly Shelah, who write that one should hold one’s Purim meal early on in the day; the earlier one holds the feast, the more praiseworthy he is.

This was indeed the custom of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l who would partake of his Purim feast immediately following Shacharit prayers as he would on Shabbat day, in accordance with the opinion of the saintly Shelah. Nevertheless, according to the letter of the law, it is permissible to begin this feast later on in the day as is the prevalent custom.

The Proper Time for the Purim Feast This Year
This year, 5781, the holiday of Purim, which is on the 14th of Adar, falls this coming Thursday night and Friday. In walled-cities from the days of Yehoshua bin Nun, meaning in the holy city of Jerusalem, Purim will fall out on the 15th of Adar, namely this coming Shabbat, in which case a “three-day Purim” is celebrated, as we shall discuss in the following Halacha.

The Rama (Chapter 695, Section 2) writes that in this case, the Purim feast should be held at an early hour of the day in honor of Shabbat, so that one will be able to partake of the Shabbat meal heartily and not while one is still satisfied and tired from the Purim feast. Hagaon Mishnah Berura rules likewise that when Purim falls out on a Friday, one should hold the Purim feast in the morning before halachic midday (which is at approximately 12:10 PM).

The great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a writes (in his Yalkut Yosef, Chapter 695) that according to the letter of the law, one may hold the Purim feast even later in the afternoon since this meal is considered a Mitzvah and a Seudat Mitzvah at its appropriate time may be held even on Friday afternoon.

Nevertheless, he quotes the Sefer Yosef Ometz who writes that when Purim falls out on a Friday, having the Purim feast after halachic midday detracts from the honor of Shabbat and thus, the “primary” part of the meal should be held in the morning. This means that the Purim feast should at least be started in the morning so that in the afternoon, one will only eat a small amount, all in honor of Shabbat. He writes that this is indeed the custom in Jerusalem where the Purim feast is held in the morning. The other Mitzvot of the day, namely Mishloach Manot and Matanot La’Evyonim should be performed before the feast.  

If one did not have a chance to hold one’s Purim feast in the morning, one should do so as soon as possible; one should try to make it as early as possible in honor of Shabbat.

Summary: The Purim feast must be held during the day, not at night. It is preferable to hold the feast as early on in the day as possible in order to be able to partake of the Shabbat night meal with a hearty appetite. If one has not done so, the meal should be held as soon thereafter as possible.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha

Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Praying Repeatedly-A Spark of Ruach Ha’Kodesh

Question: Is it correct for one to plead and beseech Hashem for the same thing every single day or is it more proper to pray for a certain matter only several times and if one sees that one has not been answered, one should cease praying for that specific matter? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 32b)......

Read Halacha


Donating Tzedakah (Charity) in Order for One’s Son to Recover From an Illness

Question: Is it permissible to donate a sum of money to charity in the merit of which someone should become healed or for any other personal request or is it improper to do this since the Mitzvah is not being performed for the sake of Heaven, rather, for one’s personal purposes? Answer: The......

Read Halacha

Walking a Dog on Shabbat

Question: If one has a pet dog at home, either for leisure or as a seeing-eye dog for a blind individual, may one move it on Shabbat? Similarly, may one walk the dog in the street on Shabbat? Answer: We have explained in the previous Halacha that all animals are considered Muktzeh on Shabbat as M......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Chazzan’s Repetition of the Amida

-------------------------------- Along with the rest of the Jewish nation, we are heartbroken and mourn the loss of those who passed in the horrific Meron tragedy on Lag Ba’Omer. May their souls be bound in the binding of eternal life and may Hashem send consolation to their families and ma......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the Bedtime Keri’at Shema Regarding Women and Following Halachic Midnight

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one should recite the “Hamapil” blessing before reciting the bedtime Keri’at Shema. This blessing should be recited along with Hashem’s name like all other blessings. We have also explained that although one should preferably ta......

Read Halacha