Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why don't we celebrate two days of Purim in Jerusalem?

While the rest of Israel celebrates Purim this Sunday (the 14th of Adar), Jerusalem celebrates on Monday (the 15th of Adar).


Well, the easy answer is "because Jerusalem is a walled city from the time of Joshua."

Which is partially right.  Jerusalem was a walled city in the time of Joshua, but the walls we see today were built in the 1500s, in the Ottoman Era.  From the early 13th century and until the mid-16th century, Jerusalem was not a walled city at all.  And indeed, it was unclear to the Jews of that time when they should celebrate Purim.

Rabbi Eshtori Ha-Parchi of the 14th century tells us that when he came to Israel, he was told that in Jerusalem they celebrated on both the 14th and 15th of Adar, as they were uncertain which one they were obligated to keep.  Rabbi Eshtori brings an entire Halachik discussion about what should be done, and adds that he wrote his rabbi, Rabbi Matityah in Bet-Shean, to ask him what he should do.

Rabbi Matityah wrote him back: If I would be in Jerusalem on the 14th of Adar, and they would read the Megillah, I would leave the synagogue.  Otherwise they could say about me "The fool walketh in darkness" (Ecclesiastes 2, 14).  And the same is true for Tiberias.

Rabbi Eshtori finished by saying that Rabbi Matityah is right.

We don't know what changed the minds of the Jews of Jerusalem, but today there is no doubt - and we celebrate Purim in Jerusalem on the 15th of Adar.

See here for an archive of articles about our history in Israel

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Avinoam said...

So the headline question is not answered in the article.

Purim teaser...

abba's rantings said...

" And the same is true for Tiberias"

it is celebrated there on the 15th? anywhere else?

Ora said...

@avinoam - it's a question for thought. We tend to think that traditions do not change.

@abba's rantings - in Tiberias it's celebrated today on both days. And that is true for many other places. The only place in the world where Purim is celebrated only on the 15th is Jerusalem.

Anonymous said...

i posted a comment on this a while ago but evidently it didnt go up. the gemara already discusses this issue (namely a formerly walled city which was no longer walled but reinhabited or rewalled)and clearly states that you should read it on the 15th. the only confusion here is how in the world could the jerusalemites have been confused if its a befeirushe gemara. more importantly, how could the baal hablog make a post on something without even checking the gemara and poskim all of which paskin like the aforementioned gemara.

Ora said...

@anonymous - it's not the baal hablog who wrote about it, it's me (as it says very clearly at the beginning of the post).

I don't write about halacha I write about history, and the point of this article was to show you that Jews lived in Jerusalem in the 14th century and argued about when to celebrate Purim.

Now, I don't want to start a halachik discussion, but obviously things are not so clear cut, because there were many walled cities at the time of Yehoshua, and yet we only celebrate Purim on the 15th in Jerusalem. And the fact is that in recent years, more and more places read on the 15th (though nowhere only on the 15th), so such halachik arguments continue until today.

Besides that: the city that was walled at the time of Yehoshua is the area known today as the City of David. This area was not re-walled, and it was definitely not so re-habitated, because in the 16th century the Turks left it outside the walls that they built around the 'new' city of Jerusalem. So I really don't see where things are so meforash and clear-cut.

So, if you lived in Jerusalem at the time of the Turks, and saw them putting up the walls separating you from the Jerusalem Yehoshua conquered - what would you have poskin?

Anonymous said...

Still good because the gemara says crach vchal hanera imo nidon ccrach

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