1) THE THIRTEENTH OF ADAR
OPINIONS: The Mishnah lists the days on which the Megilah may be read under various circumstances: the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, or fifteenth of Adar.
What is the source for these dates? The verse (Esther 9:21) explicitly states that the Megilah may be read on the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar. The Gemara derives from other verses that the Megilah may be read on the eleventh and twelfth of Adar. The Gemara asserts that it is obvious that the Megilah may be read on the thirteenth day of Adar and no source in a verse is necessary, because that day was "the time of gathering of everyone" ("Zeman Kehilah la'Kol").
What is this "time of gathering of everyone," and why does it make it obvious that the Megilah may be read on that day?
(a) RASHI (DH Zeman Kehilah) says that this refers to when the Jewish people gathered together on the thirteenth of the month to avenge their enemies both in Shushan and in all other areas. Since the primary miracle of Purim (the downfall of the enemies of the Jews) occurred on that day, it is obvious that the Megilah may be read on the thirteenth.
(b) The RAN cites an explanation in the name of Tosfos, based on the Yerushalmi, which is effectively the opposite of Rashi's explanation. The Gemara infers from a verse that the two additional days on which the Megilah may be read must be similar to the two primary days (the fourteenth and the fifteenth). On those two days the Jews rested, relieved of the mortal threat that had hung over them. The fact that the thirteenth was a day of war should make it unfit for reading the Megilah, since the Jews were not at rest on that day but were at war! Hence, the eleventh and twelfth of Adar are the two days which are derived instead of the twelfth and thirteenth. However, once there is a source that the Megilah may be read as early as the eleventh and twelfth, then certainly it may be read on the thirteenth.
When the Gemara says that the thirteenth was "the time of gathering of everyone," it means that since the Jews gathered together for battle, the two additional days on which the Jews rested (and thus on which the Megilah may be read) must be the eleventh and twelfth. If the Megilah may be read as early as the eleventh and twelfth, it is logical that it may be read on the thirteenth as well.
(c) The RAN and ROSH cite RABEINU TAM who explains that "the time of gathering of everyone" refers to the day on which everyone fasted together. (The Jewish people fast when they go to war, as they did when they went to war with Amalek.)
Rabeinu Tam says that according to this explanation, the Gemara here is the source for the practice to observe a fast day on the thirteenth of Adar -- Ta'anis Esther. There is no other source for this Ta'anis. In fact, when the edicts of Megilas Ta'anis were observed (before they were annulled when the second Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed), the thirteenth of Adar was a day of celebration, and fasting was prohibited on that day (Ta'anis 18b). Apparently, after Megilas Ta'anis was annulled the Chachamim enacted that a day of fasting be observed on the thirteenth of Adar to commemorate the fast of Mordechai and Esther.
The ROSH cites others who give a different source for Ta'anis Esther. They cite a statement in Maseches Sofrim (17:4) that "our sages in Eretz Yisrael fasted three days in Adar" in commemoration of the three-day fast that Esther observed at Pesach time when she heard of Haman's plan to destroy the Jews. The sages did not want to fast in Nisan because Nisan is a time of joy. Therefore, they forwarded their commemorative fast to Adar, to the days right before Purim.
The RAN in Rosh Hashanah (18a) cites the RA'AVAD who asserts that the obligation to observe Ta'anis Esther is mentioned explicitly in the Megilah. The verse (Esther 9:31) relates that the Jewish people accepted to observe Purim "like they had accepted upon themselves and their descendants the fasts...." What fasts had they already accepted? It must be that they had accepted to observe a fast in Adar in commemoration of Esther's fast in Nisan. When Megilas Ta'anis says that the thirteenth of Adar is a day of joy, it means only that eulogies are prohibited on that day, but not fasting.
The Ran (ibid.) and other Rishonim reject this source for Ta'anis Esther. They assert that the verse refers to the four fasts mentioned in Zecharyah (8:19) -- "The fast of the fourth [month] (17 Tamuz), the fast of the fifth (9 Av), the fast of the seventh (3 Tishrei), and the fast of the tenth (10 Teves)...." The verse is saying that they accepted Purim just as they accepted the four Ta'aniyos.
2) DIFFERENT DAYS TO CELEBRATE PURIM
QUESTION: The Gemara proves from the verses in the Megilah that two separate days are designated for celebrating Purim. The open, unwalled cities ("Perazim") observe Purim on the fourteenth of Adar, and the walled cities ("Mukafin") observe Purim on the fifteenth.
Why did the Chachamim institute two different days of Purim for different types of cities? Normally, the Chachamim are meticulous in maintaining equality in the practices of different places, and they put forth considerable effort to institute the same practice everywhere (Yevamos 14a; see Insights to Sukah 44:1
(a) The RAMBAN writes that the simple explanation is that in Adar of the year in which the events of Purim took place, the Jews in all places battled with their enemies on the thirteenth and they rested on the fourteenth. Therefore, the Chachamim instituted that Purim be observed on the fourteenth. The Jews in the city of Shushan, however, were engaged in battle on both the thirteenth and the fourteenth of Adar; they rested only on the fifteenth. Therefore, the Chachamim instituted that the Jews in Shushan always celebrate Purim on the fifteenth. Once a different day of Purim was enacted for Shushan, the Chachamim also included other cities that are distinguished like Shushan (i.e. walled) in the enactment to observe Purim on the fifteenth. Since the main miracle of Purim occurred in Shushan, the city of Shushan observes Purim on the day of that miracle, the fifteenth. Similarly-distinguished cities also celebrate on the day of the main miracle, on the fifteenth, like Shushan.
The Ramban, however, has difficulty with this explanation. Even in Shushan the main battle occurred on the thirteenth, and thus on the fourteenth the Jews of Shushan already had reason to rejoice. Consequently, the most fitting day on which to observe Purim the following year should have been the fourteenth (along with all other cities). Why should the Jews of Shushan celebrate on the fifteenth and be different from the rest of the Jewish people?
(b) The RAMBAN therefore suggests an entirely different approach. He explains that during the first few years after the miracle of Purim, the Chachamim made no broad enactment for all of the Jewish people to celebrate Purim. Nevertheless, certain groups of Jews celebrated Purim independently because they appreciated the great salvation that Hash-m had granted to them. Those groups comprised only residents of open cities, who celebrated Purim on their own accord because they felt their vulnerability and had profound appreciation for having been saved. Many of the Jews who had returned to Eretz Yisrael during the time of Koresh lived in walled, Jewish-governed cities in Eretz Yisrael and did not feel vulnerable. After the miracle of Purim, they did not celebrate Purim spontaneously because they did not feel the effects of the salvation as the open cities did.
A few years after the events of Purim occurred, Mordechai and Esther instituted the observance of Purim and the reading of the Megilah for all Jewish communities, based upon a source they found in the Torah (Megilah 7a, Yerushalmi Megilah 1:5). They sent a message to all of the Jewish people, telling them to celebrate Purim regardless of where they lived. However, since the Jews in the open cities had been observing Purim since the time of the miracle, Mordechai and Esther decided to give them their own day of celebration to show admiration for their spontaneous observance of Purim prior to the enactment. Moreover, Mordechai and Esther established their day of Purim to be one day before that of the walled cities, also to show respect to the Jews of the open cities. They enacted that the walled cities observe the day of Purim on the fifteenth of Adar, the day on which the city of Shushan rested the first year.
The Ramban cites support for this explanation from the verse which says that "the Jews accepted what they had already begun to do and what Mordechai wrote to them to do" (Esther 9:23). These words imply that some Jews "had already begun" to observe Purim before Mordechai "wrote to them," and when Mordechai formally instituted the festival of Purim, even those in the walled cities began to observe it.
The Ramban also cites support for this explanation from the Gemara (5b) which says that the reason why walled cities are different is either because they are not exposed or because they are protected. This also explains why the Gemara here (2b) initially suggested that walled cities should not celebrate Purim at all.
The problem with this explanation is that the Mishnah says that a city has the status of a walled city only if it was walled from the times of Yehoshua. According to the Ramban, a city should have the status of a walled city as long as it was walled from the times of Achashverosh, because those are the cities which did not observe Purim before the official enactment!
The Ramban answers that the reason why the Chachamim established that the determining factor is that the city was walled in the times of Yehoshua is because most of the Jewish people at the time of Purim lived in Eretz Yisrael (according to the Ramban). The Jews in Eretz Yisrael, however, had not yet had enough time to rebuild the cities and their walls. If the Chachamim would have decreed that the status of a walled city is determined by whether the city was walled during the times of Achashverosh, then Yerushalayim and all of the other cities in Eretz Yisrael would have had the status of open cities. In order to give honor to Eretz Yisrael, the Chachamim chose not to put the walled cities (which are walled today) into the category of open cities, and therefore they decreed that the determining factor is whether the city was walled in the times of Yehoshua, when all of those cities in Eretz Yisrael indeed were walled. (The source for this is the Yerushalmi which says that the reason why a city is considered a walled city if it was walled in the times of Yehoshua is because "Chilku Kavod l'Eretz Yisrael.")
3) "MEDINAH U'MEDINAH," "IR VA'IR"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara expounds the verse, "And these days shall be remembered and celebrated... by province and province (Medinah u'Medinah), and city and city (v'Ir va'Ir)..." (Esther 9:28). The repetition of the words "Medinah" and "Ir" imply that there are two types of Medinah and two types of Ir, each with its own guidelines for when to read the Megilah. According to the Tana of the Mishnah, the two types of Medinah are cities which were walled from the times of Yehoshua (which read the Megilah on the fifteenth) and cities which were walled later (which read on the fourteenth). The two types of Ir are unwalled cities (which read on the fourteenth) and the city of Shushan (which reads on the fifteenth, even though it was not walled from the times of Yehoshua).
Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah, however, maintains that cities walled from the times of Achashverosh read the Megilah on the fifteenth. According to him, there is only one difference between cities -- the difference between walled cities (like Shushan) and unwalled cities. To express that difference it would have sufficed to repeat just the word "Medinah." Why does the verse also repeat the word "Ir"?
Moreover, according to the Tana of the Mishnah, the repetition of "Medinah" seems unnecessary because the difference between cities which were walled from the times of Yehoshua and cities which were walled later is already derived from another verse (the Gezeirah Shavah of "Perazi Perazi").
The Gemara answers that the repetition of "Medinah" is intended for a Derashah which teaches that any city within sight of, or near to, a walled city also reads on the fifteenth like the walled city.
RASHI (DH uk'd'Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi) explains that the Gemara's answer means that the verse is only teaching a Derashah and is not distinguishing at all between two types of Medinah or two types of Ir. The verse is saying that every city near to a Medinah (a walled city) has the status of that city. (The Gemara emphasizes specifically that "it is intended for a Derashah" and is not intended to distinguish between two types of cities.)
There are several difficulties with Rashi's explanation.
(a) The TUREI EVEN asks why Rashi does not give the most simple explanation. The verse contains two extra parts -- a repetition of the word "Medinah" and a repetition of the word "Ir." The Gemara's question was that according to Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah there is no need for a second extra part. The first extra part of the verse -- the repetition of "Medinah" -- is necessary because it teaches that there is a difference between walled cities (like Shushan) and unwalled cities. The only question was that the repetition of "Ir" is unnecessary. Therefore, when the Gemara answers that the verse is needed to teach the Halachah with regard to a city near (or within view of) a walled city, Rashi should explain that this Halachah is taught by the repetition of "Ir"! The Gemara then would be consistent with the theme of the verse itself (distinguishing between different types of places).
(b) According to Rashi's explanation that the verse teaches only that a city next to a walled city is different from other cities (that are not next to walled cities), it would have sufficed for the verse to say "Medinah v'Ir." Why does the verse mention both "Medinah" and "Ir" twice?
(a) The Gemara clearly identifies "Medinah" as a walled city and "Ir" as an ordinary city. Consequently, whatever Halachah is derived from the repetition of "Medinah" must differentiate between different types of walled cities, and whatever Halachah is derived from the repetition of "Ir" must refer to ordinary cities.
When the Gemara says that one extra part of the verse is needed to differentiate between Shushan and unwalled cities (according to the Tana of the Mishnah), that difference must be derived from the repetition of "Ir va'Ir" since both Shushan and other unwalled cities are not in the category of "Medinah." However, if the verse distinguishes between cities near walled cities and cities far from walled cities, then that distinction also must be derived from the repetition of "Ir va'Ir" since, again, neither fit into the category of walled cities. However, those words ("Ir va'Ir") are already used to differentiate between Shushan and other unwalled cities! The question still remains: why does the verse repeat "Medinah" according to the Tana of the Mishnah?
Rashi therefore explains that the Gemara no longer assumes that the verse differentiates between cities at all, but rather it understands that the verse merely associates towns near walled cities with their walled neighbors.
(b) Why are the words in the verse doubled if the verse does not differentiate between different types of "Medinah" and different types of "Ir"? If the verse would have said simply, "And these days shall be remembered and celebrated... by every province (Medinah) and city (v'Ir)..." with no repetitions, one would have understood that the verse teaches simply that there are two different days for reading the Megilah; the unwalled cities observe the Mitzvah in one way and the walled cities observe it in another way. Even though another verse teaches that "the time [for celebrating Purim] for this type of city is not like the time for the other type of city," this is only with regard to observing the other Mitzvos of the day ("Asiyah") but not with regard to reading the Megilah ("Zechirah"). It is this verse which teaches that even with regard to reading the Megilah the two types of cities observe the Mitzvah on two different days.
That is what one would have thought had the verse not doubled any words. By repeating the words "Medinah" and "Ir," the verse teaches that when an ordinary town is near a walled city, they are paired together and they read on the same day. The additional "Medinah" of the verse is associated with the extra "Ir" of the verse to teach that the two are "linked" to each other (it is as though the verse says, "Medinah v'Ir, Medinah v'Ir"). (M. KORNFELD)