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Shushan Purim and the Slight to Eretz Yisrael

March 19, 2014

Laws of Megilla and Hanukka, 1:4-5:

Every city, whether in Eretz Yisrael or in the diaspora, that was surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua bin Nun should read the Megillah on the fifteenth ofAdar. This applies even when a wall does not surround the city at present. Such a city is called a כרך.

Every city that was not surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua bin Nun should read the Megillah on the fourteenth of Adar. This applies even when there is a wall surrounding the city at present. Such a city is called an עיר.

In the capital of Shushan, the Megillah is read on the fifteenth of Adar although it was not surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua bin Nun, because the miracle occurred within it and at that time, the Jews celebrated on that day, as Esther 9:18 states, “And they rested on the fifteenth.”

Why was the matter made dependent on the time of Joshua bin Nun? To give honor to the cities of Eretz Yisrael that were in ruin at the time of the Purim miracle. Although they are in ruin at present, this would allow them to read the Megillah on the fifteenth as do the inhabitants of Shushan, since they were surrounded by a wall at the time of Joshua. Thus the commemoration of the miracle would include a remembrance of Eretz Yisrael.

One will notice that few cities in Israel actually do observe Shushan Purim, although it seems the intention all along was for them to observe it. Why not? As Wikipedia states, “Further doubts have arisen as to whether other cities were sufficiently walled in Joshua’s era. It is therefore customary in certain towns including HebronSafedTiberiasAcreAshdodAshkelon,BeershevaBeit She’anBeit ShemeshGazaGush HalavHaifaJaffaLodRamlah and Shechem to celebrate Purim on the 14th and hold an additional megillah reading on the 15th with no blessings.” That is, the Talmud makes the observation contingent on a positive Masora, tradition, that a cry was walled, and how do we know that those cities had walls?

The answer is, of course, that we know those cities had walls. All of the cities that were worth mentioning in biblical times were by definition walled. In our days, the problem is not knowing which cities were walled; rather it is finding where those walls were. In Talmudic times maybe it was possible to see the remnants of some, or there were still some positive traditions where they had been, but we would need to resort to archeology to answer the question now. And, because archeology and deciding halacha don’t mix – Rabbis don’t care to ask the archeologists where the walled cities were, and archeologists don’t care to keep religious holidays – the information is not shared, and the pious Jewish masses and their leaders continue to insult the Land of Israel by observing Purim on the 14th of Adar.

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From → halacha, original

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