We have already mentioned several times that there is hardly any area of Halacha that has not undergone a profound and comprehensive analysis in light of the renaissance of the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. This column will discuss the laws of Purim. What is the connection between Purim and Eretz Yisrael?
The answer is clear! Purim of the Mukafim- the walled cities. Our sages enacted that every city that was surrounded by a wall from the time of Yehoshua bin Nun would celebrate Purim on the 15th day of Adar.
Yerushalayim is the only city in Israel that certainly had walls during that time and therefore reads on the 15th of Adar. There are other cities which may have had walls at that time, and, as such, read the Megilla on both days of Purim, for example,Chevron and T’veria. Recently investigation has been made into new settlements in Yehuda V’Shomron – Judea and Samaria, such as Shilo, if they have the status of a city which was certainly or only questionably surrounded by a wall.
However, the primary halachic inquiries are about Yerushalayim. What is different today more than a hundred years ago? The answer is simply that Yerushalayim has expanded tremendously. The main question is regarding the status of all of the new neighborhoods.
One of the essential components of the discussion is that not only the city itself reads on the 15th of Adar, but, also any section which is Samuch v’Nir’eh– any area that is within the proximity (Samuch) of one “mil”(approximately one kilometer) to the city or any area that can “see” (Nir’eh) the city even though it is not close.
HaRav Tukachinsky zt”l, in his calendar of customs of the Land of Israel, ruled that the boundary of the city of Yerushalayim for purposes of reading of the Megilla is the distance of one ???from the wall of the Old City. HaRav Zevin zt”l, in his famous work “Hamo’adim bahalacha”, was confounded by the annual publicizing of this decision in contravention of the majority of halachic decisors and the popular custom in Yerushalayim itself.
In essence there is a halachic question that is not mentioned in the poskim of the previous generations: What is the status of a city which has spread and expanded several miles? This is the new reality of Yerushalayim! There is a consensus among contemporary authorities that all of the city is considered as one and reads on the 15th of Adar.
However, the new question is whether Samuch v’Nir’ehis measured from the wall of the original ancient city or from the extreme limit of the existing city today? For example, in the new neighborhoods that are not connected by contiguous construction such as Ramot, there are those who read the Megilla on the 15th because one can see the new city from there even though one cannot see the wall of the Old City. Or, others who maintain that because one cannot see the Old City from there one should read on the 14th of Adar. (Understandably, there are those who read on both days to satisfy all opinions.)
There is another fascinating question whether one may “rely” on the eiruv to constitute a “virtual” wall around the city? In the first years of the development of the Har Nof neighborhood there was a “stormy” debate over its Purim status. It was resolved by extending the eiruv of Yerushalayim around Har Nof. The inhabitants of Mevaseret Yerushalayim read the Megilla on the 15th of Adar for the same reason, that they, too, are connected to the main eiruv of Yerushalayim.
It is well known the opinion of HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, that whoever is within the boundaries of the municipality of Yerushalayim reads on the 15th of Adar. His proof is from the fact that the concept Samuch v’Nir’ehof is not only related to the laws of Purim, but, also to the general halachic definition of a city – such as in regards to the collection of taxes from “residents” of the city (see the Laws of Purim, Siman 688, Shaar HaTzion 7). HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”lpersonally demonstrated his opinion (Ma’aseh Rav). Several years ago when he was a patient in Hadassa Hospital in Ein Karem which is a long distance from Yerushalayaim proper, he read the Megilla on the 15th.
As well, the sugya/halachic discussion regarding a walled-city resident who went to an unwalled city or visa versa has been analyzed and clarified in our time because of the relatively new circumstances which facilitate travel from Yerushalayaim to Tel Aviv and back on the same day for hundreds and thousands of people. The first one to write extensively on this topic was the Rav of Yerushalayim, HaRav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l. There are tens of possible scenarios in this topic. I believe this is the only halacha that the Chafetz Chayim in his Biur Halacha requested that the reader not rely on his analysis in regards to making a blessing since he relied exclusively on Rashi’s opinion in this sugya.
We bless and wish for everyone ”MisheNichnas Addar, marbim besimcha”, and pray that the Almighty will redeem us from tribulation to celebration and will transform all of the harsh decrees for the good.