This year, the 14th of Adar—Purim—falls on a Friday, and the 15th of Adar, a.k.a. Purim Demukafin, a.k.a. Shushan Purim (celebrated in cities that were surrounded by a wall at the time of the Joshua conquest)—falls on Shabbat. Our sages decreed that when the holiday of Purim falls on Shabbat we don’t read the Megillah on Shabbat, because it might lead to illegal carrying in the public domain. Likewise, the other mitzvot of the day are observed before or after Shabbat.
The significant changes in the practice of Purim apply mainly to the surrounded cities, out of which we know for certain only about Jerusalem and Jericho. But Jews who live elsewhere will also be affected by the fact that their Purim falls on Friday.
The following are the various laws that apply this year on the holiday of Purim, from “Halacha from its source – Passover eve that falls on Shabbat, a Triple Purim” by Rabbi Zvi Rimon.
The Laws of a Triple Purim outside Jerusalem
In general, the usual Purim laws apply this year for the Jews living outside Jerusalem. The only difference concerns the Purim Seudah (meal). When holding a Purim meal on a Friday, one should do it in the morning (before noon) or at the latest before the Mincha Ktana prayer (roughly 3:15 PM), out of respect for Shabbat, so that one may enter Shabbat hungry, and so that the needs of Shabbat are properly cared for.
Some practice having the Purim meal in the afternoon, relying on the halacha of Pores Mapa u’Mekadesh (lit. he spreads a cloth and makes kiddush) that states that during a Yom Tov or Purim meal that began on Erev Shabbat and Shabbat came in requiring the Shabbat kiddush, it is not necessary to stop the meal, but one may spread a cloth over the challahs, make kiddush, and continue the meal.
However, to hold the Purim meal in the afternoon raises a question regarding saying Al Hanissim (lit. for the miracles) which is the Purim-related addendum to the grace after the meal. Also, this conduct would prevent one from praying Maariv in a minyan.
Therefore the common custom is to hold the meal early and eat it before noon. Nevertheless, those who start the Purim meal Friday afternoon and “glide” into the Shabbat meal, are not violating any law – provided that they conduct the Ma’ariv prayer after the Shabbat meal.
Tachnun (supplication) on Sunday: Jerusalemites do not say Tachnun on Sunday, as it is the day when they keep the mitzvot of Purim, including joy, drinking, and feasting. It is also customary for Jews outside Jerusalem not to say Tachnun.
Laws of the reading of the Megillah in Jerusalem
Reading time: when the 16th of Ader falls on Shabbat, the Megillah is not read on Shabbat in Jerusalem but on Friday (meaning Thursday night). The reason is that our sages feared that a person would carry the Megillah on Shabbat in the public domain.
Public reading: In principle when reading the Megillah not at the normally appointed time, it should be read with a minyan. The poskim (legal commentators) were divided as to whether the reading of the Megillah by the residents of the walled cities on Friday is an early reading—not at its appointed time. According to the Mishna Brura, it is not the appointed time and therefore requires a minyan, and if one reads without a minyan he should not make the relevant blessings. However, according to many poskim, this reading is at its appropriate time.
In fact, to begin with, it is worthwhile to be careful to read with a minyan, including at a reading for women—there should be at least ten women present. But where this is not possible, especially in this year of the Corona restrictions, one may read with a blessing even without a minyan.
When are the rest of the Purim mitzvot observed in Jerusalem?
Gifts for the needy: the Gemara indicates that giving gifts to the needy should be done on the day the Megillah is read, and therefore gifts are given to the needy on Friday.
Purim meal: The Yerushalmi Talmud says that a Purim meal should not be held on Shabbat because the joy of Shabbat is fixed from above and it is not a suitable time for the joy of Purim, which was set on a day when the joy is not fixed by heaven. Therefore the meal should be held on Sunday. Another reason is that on Purim we are commanded to drink “ad delo yada” (lit. to the point of great confusion), while on Shabbat we have the mitzvah of remembrance of the holy day, therefore it is not possible to fulfill the obligation to have the Purim meal on Shabbat. This is also the opinion of the Rif and other Rishonim, and so is the halacha. However, it is customary to increase the size of the Shabbat meal and add a special dish to mark the Purim meal.
Mishloach Manot (sending food gifts): some say that the reason for mishloach manot is to ensure that the recipient would have something to eat at the Purim meal. By this logic, the time of the mitzvah should be attached to the time of the meal, so Mishloach Manot must be given on Sunday in Jerusalem. But some say that the purpose of mishloach manot is to increase brotherhood and friendship, and according to this view, the mitzvah may only be observed on the day of Purim itself, meaning on Shabbat. But in the opinion of most poskim, we do not do mishloach manot on Shabbat for fear of illegally carrying in the public domain.
Al Hanissim (lit. for the miracles): we say Al Hanissim on Shabbat and not on Friday. On Sunday we don’t say Al Hanissim in the prayer or the grace after the meal, including after the Purim meal itself. But it is recommended to say Al Hanissim in the HaRachaman addendum to the grace after the meal.
Torah reading on Shabbat
It is customary to read in Jerusalem the Parsha of “Vayavo Amalek” (Ex. 17:8) for the maftir on Shabbat, and not on Friday. The Haftara is the same as the week before, “Pakadeti at asher asa Amalek (I Shmuel 15:2). Outside Jerusalem, we read the week’s maftir and haftarah.