Extending a Yom Tov from one day to two is a familiar phenomenon but is there any case when we extend a one-day holiday into a three-day event? The answer is yes and it applies to Purim that falls out on Shabbat. Can Purim be on Shabbat? In the past when the Courts determined Rosh Chodesh the answer would be yes. Today when we use a pre-determined calendar the answer is yes, but only in cities known to be walled from the days of Yehoshua Bin Nun, such as Yerushalyim, where Purim is celebrated on the fifteenth of Adar, known as Shushan Purim.
In the event that Purim (or Shushan Purim) comes out on Shabbat we may not read the Megilah on Shabbat. Raba explains that the reading of the Megilah is prohibited to prevent one from accidentally carrying the Megilah in a public place, which is forbidden on Shabat. Rav Yosef suggests that we do not read the Megilah on Shabbat since the poor look to the reading of the Megilah to receive money and presents which may not be given on Shabat. (See Megilah 4b) Since we learn from the verse (Ester 9/27) “ve’lo yaavor”, it should not pass, that reading of Megilah may not be delayed from it’s proper date, the Halachic ruling is that the reading should proceed the proper date. (Mishna and Gemarah Megilah 5a) Consequently, in Yerushalayim (or other walled cities) the Megilah is read on Friday as in all other places.
When the Megilah is read in its proper time it may be read in private as well as in public (tzibur). When for some reason the Megilah is read before its proper time it can only be read in public. The halachic authorities debate if reading on the fourteenth in a walled city, when the fifteenth is a Shabbat, should be viewed as reading in the proper time or as an early reading. Some consequences of this question are: Can an individual recite a Beracha if reading the Megila in a walled city on the fourteenth? Can one (a man) read for women without ten men present? Would a person from a walled city be able to read for people who reside in other places? Though, the Mishna Berurah tends to rule that reading in a walled city on Friday the fourteenth is defined as an early reading and therefore requires a public reading to enable a Beracha to be recited. Many later authorities ruled that if another leniency were included in the considerations, we may treat the reading as one that is read in the proper time. Therefore one may read to women based on the opinion that women constitute a tzibur for the purpose of pirsum ha’ness (advertising a miracle). Similarly an individual reading the Megilah may recite a Beracha based on the Rama that it is sufficient to have one public reading for the purpose of pirsum ha’ness.
People of a walled city give the Matanot La’evyonim, presents for the poor, on Friday. The rationale behind this is that which Rav Yosef states that the poor look to the reading for their presents.
Shabat is the actual date of Purim in walled cities. Therefore declarative aspects of Purim are fulfilled on Shabat. On Shabat The Al Hanisim is inserted in the Tefilot and Birkat Hamazon. In the reading of the Torah the reading of Purim is inserted for the Maftir. Since a special reading is read for Maftir the Haftorah reflects this section. Therefore the Haftorah read in walled cities is the same section that has been read previously on Shabat Zachor. The Gemarah (Megilah 4a) teaches that Rabi Yehoshua Ben Levi states: “when Purim is on Shabat there should be a drasha (sermon) on the topic of Purim”. The purpose of this drasha is to bring Purim in to the awareness of the public since there is no reading of the Megilah.
The Seudah is customarily, as stated in the Shulchan Aruch, eaten on Sunday creating the third day of Purim. The Seudah is not eaten on Shabat so as to distinguish between the meals of Shabat and the Seudah which is meant to express the joy of the miracle of Purim. It is less clear why the Seudah is not eaten on Friday. One possible explanation is that we only eat the Seudah after the formal requirement has set in namely after the fifteenth has arrived. Since we can not eat the Seudah on the fifteenth we postpone it to Sunday. It should be noted that some Rishonim (early authorities) argue that the Seudah should be eaten on Shabbat applying the idea of “ve’lo yaavor” to the Seudah as well as the reading of the Megilah. (See Ritva Megilah 5a and Ran on the Rif 3a-of Rif) The Meiri raises the possibility of eating the Seudah on Friday rather then Sunday.
Many of the commentators understand the requirement of Mishloach Manot (sending food to friends) to be an extension of the Seudah in which one shares of his meal with others. In the event we accept this understanding then it would seem logical to fulfill this mitzvah on the same day as the Seudah is eaten. The Bach proposes a different explanation for Mishloach Manot, to bring about general peace amongst people. If we accept this view then there is place to consider fulfilling this mitzvah on one of the other days. The Chazon Ish suggested Mishloach Manot on Friday, which would indicate an association to Matanot Laevyonim.
Though most of what we have spoken about in this article applies to a small group of people living in walled cities there is one point that may apply to the broader public. Usually Shushan Purim, the fifteenth of Adar, is a day when tachanun is not recited. In this case Shushan Purim extends to the sixteenth of Adar as well and the question is should tachanun be said on Sunday the sixteenth? Rav Shlomo Aurbach was of the opinion that the proper custom is to refrain from tachanun, thereby making everyone a part of this three-day holiday.