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Esther, Malachi, 2 Peter

Four Purim Mitzvot

And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus, both nigh and far, To stablish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

Esther 9:20ff (Spoke 17, Cycle 1))

The four Rabbinical Mitzvot associated with the festival of Purim are derived from the highlighted verse above. Below is a reproduction of the Purim rules This link takes you off the Bible Wheel site and opens a new window published at

The Observance of the Day

There are four mitzvot which are obligatory on Purim: the reading of Megillat Esther, festivity and rejoicing, Shalach Manot (sending gifts), and Matanot L'Evyonim (gifts to the poor). Explanations follow:

Reading of Megillat Esther

One is required to read the Megillah both by day and night. One may read the Megillah all night until dawn, and from sunrise until sunset. If one has read the Megillah before sunrise but after dawn, one has fulfilled the obligation to read the Megillah. Both men and women are obligated to hear the Megillah.

Feasting and Rejoicing

It is a mitzvah to have a sumptuous meal on Purim, including meat dishes and wine. This feast must be held during the day. When Purim is in on Erev Shabbos - as it was in Jerusalem in 5758 - one must begin one's meal early in the afternoon before Mincha in order that one can finish early enough so as to have a good appetite for the Shabbos meal. The miracle of Purim came through wine. Vashti's downfall and Haman's downfall came through a wine feast! There is also a custom of drinking until intoxication as our Sages tell us, "A person is obligated to drink on Purim til he no longer knows the difference between cursed is Haman and blessed is Modechai." If one fears that he or she may be harmed by excessive drinking of wine or come to levity thereby or even forget the required brachot one is required to make, drinking excessively is not required.

[Note: The tradition concerning cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordecai is based on the fact that these phrases share the common numerical value of 502:

Cursed is Haman
ארור המון
Arur Haman
= 502 = Blessd is Mordecai
ברוכ מרדכי
Baruk Mordecai

It is interesting that the Number 502 coincides with the value "flesh" and "You may freely eat" both from Genesis 2 (see Gematria Reference entry for the number 502.

Matanot L'Evyonim (Gifts for the Poor)

One is required to give at least two gifts to two poor people on Purim, in other words, one gift to each. Even a poor person who subsists on charity is required to perform this mitzvah. This obligation can be fulfilled through food or drink or even clothing. The gift should be sufficient to buy bread. The gifts to the poor are given during the day, usually after the reading of the Megillah.

Shalach Manot (Gifts to One Another)

One must give a gift which consists of two portions to another person. Both men and women are included in this mitzvah. The food must consist of something edible or drinkable without further cooking or preparation. One may send meat, fish. cooked pastry, wine and other beverages. These gifts should be sent to as many people as one chooses but they should be sufficient to convey regard for the recipient. If at all possible, these gifts should be sent by messengers, rather than delivered personally because the Megillah uses the word mishloach (sending) for these gifts.

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