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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Purim Meal at Night (Part 1: Facts)

The gemara in megila 7b says:
אמר רבא סעודת פורים שאכלה בלילה לא יצא ידי חובתו מאי טעמא ימי משתה ושמחה כתיב רב אשי הוה יתיב קמיה דרב כהנא נגה ולא אתו רבנן אמר ליה מאי טעמא לא אתו רבנן דלמא טרידי בסעודת פורים אמר ליה ולא הוה אפשר למיכלה באורתא אמר ליה לא שמיע ליה למר הא דאמר רבא סעודת פורים שאכלה בלילה לא יצא ידי חובתו אמר ליה (אמר רבא הכי) [אמר ליה אין] תנא מיניה ארבעין זימנין ודמי ליה כמאן דמנח בכיסיה
There is a machlokes between Rav Ashi (RA) and Rava. (Rav Ashi, upon learning of Rava's position, accepted the new position and reviewed it 40 times until it was in his pocket).
RA: One can eat the purim meal at night (of the 14th) or during the day of the 14th.  Therefore, a torah scholar should eat it at night so he can devote his time to learning torah the next day.
Rava: If one eats the purim meal at night, he does not fulfill his obligation.  Rather, one can only eat the meal during the day.  This is based on the verse (Esther 9:22) that says "happy, festive days."

It might be helpful to see how the Rambam (2:14) formulates the halacha of  the purim meal.
מצות יום י"ד לבני כפרים ועיירות ויום ט"ו לבני כרכים להיותן יום שמחה ומשתה ומשלוח מנות לריעים ומתנות לאביונים. ומותר בעשיית מלאכה ואעפ"כ אין ראוי לעשות בו מלאכה. אמרו חכמים כל העושה מלאכה ביום פורים אינו רואה סימן ברכה לעולם. בני כפרים שקדמו וקראו בשני או בחמישי אם חלקו מעות לאביונים ביום קריאתן יצאו. אבל השמחה והמשתה אין עושין אותם אלא ביום י"ד. ואם הקדימו לא יצאו. וסעודת פורים שעשאה בלילה לא יצא ידי חובתו
Finally, the Rama says that one should be happy and eat a bigger meal than usual during the night time.  How does he derive this from the conclusion of the gemara?

We will ultimately try to define the main machlokes between Rava and RA.  First, what questions do we need to ask, and what issues do we need to understand before we can define the two positions?

23 comments:

  1. Questions:

    a)Why should the torah scholar eat the meal at night and have the day for learning? If anything the opposite, as the Rambam says that the ideal time for learning is at night.

    b)Why do we assume "DAYS of mishta and simcha" is referring to the day only? 'Days' could include the night, which is part of the 24 hour day.

    c)Why is it that if your makdim to read the megila than you can be yotzei matanos leevyonim and mishloach manos on that day but not the meal, in light of the fact that they have the same chiyuv of taking place normally on the 14th?

    d)Why was rav ashi chozer?

    e)Why does the rambam talk about not doing work on the 14th in the halacha discussing both in the begining and the end the meal, gifts to the poor, and gifts to friends?

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    1. maybe the answer to your first question (a) is that Rav Ashi held that the institution of learning in the beis medrash takes precedence over an individual's learning at night alone

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  2. What do you mean by 'institution'. Also the Rambam says that one gets chachma when he learns in private, as opposed to not forgetting one's learning when he learns in the BM. It seems that learning by oneself, which helps for the attainment of chochma, is better?

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    1. by institution we mean that the mesora of learning torah countinues through the learning process of the beis medrash (i.e rebbi-talmud in a shiur, or learning with a chavrusa). (see also the rambam in shabbos 30:10 ואסור לקבוע סעודה על היין בשבת ובימים טובים, בשעת בית המדרש)
      we are suggesting based on this gemara that the social, public form of learning takes precedence over the individual, private form

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  3. It seems like pursuing Mio's question about learning could be diverting from the main topic at hand. Maybe that should be another shiur.

    One question that may be helpful would be: How does the obligation to have a "meal" on Purim compare to the obligation to eat a meal on Yom Tov/Shabbos? another way of saying it would be: Is the meal an accident of the day (like on Yom Tov, where the kedushas hayom demands a seudah at night and during the day) or, is it an activity which functions "as a kovea" to give the 14th day its status as "Purim"?

    If this chiluk makes sense, perhaps this can be applicable to the 2 sides in the machlokes.

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    1. mio's question was definitely a side point, but we thought it interesting anyway.

      your question is the approach we took, but how is that applied to both sides?

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    2. If the meal is just a chiyuv that the day of purim engenders, then it can be done any time during the day (halachikally at night or day of 14th). I think this is RA

      But, if the meal is not just a chiyuv of the day but it actually functions to create or be koveya the Yom Purim, as a Yom Mishteh VeSimcha, then it must be done during the the essential component of the 14th as it relates to Purim, which is day time (proof for this would be the fact that the other mitzvos are also performed during the actual day time-the classification of reading of the megilla at night is the subject of a machlokes but it does appear everyone holds that the day time reading is the more primary)
      *I realize this last point is a little descriptive

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    3. the second (Rava) side is good...but according to RA, if purim is like yom tov, then it should have to be done both at night and day, just like yom tov. instead it is either night or day. that is peculiar.

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    4. In the megilla 9:22 it says "days of mishta and simcha and mishloach manos and matanos leevyonim", unlike the pesukim before hand which just say the first two. My question is, is this pasuk saying that it is a day of MM and MLV because if yes, why don't we have to do it on the 14th. Just like purim is nikva as a day of simcha and mishta by making the seudah davka on that day, so too MM and MLV.

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    5. To clarify: the halacha mentioned earlier is that the MM and MLV can me makdim to the day of gathering in the kefarim.

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    6. Possibile hesber.

      If I'm reading the pesukim correctly they state from 9:15-18 that they fought, then they rested on the 14, and 15th DAYS respectively. Perhaps you can ask the following question: what are you feasting for? Are feasting because of the miraculous nature of the day. Or are we feasting because of the gmar miracle(possibly of the whole story of purim). If the former than the whole day is appropriate to feast, because the whole day was characterized by us fighting and experiencing the miracle of killing our enemies(which was the main day of the miracle when we were supposed to get killed). If the the latter, that we are celebrating the totality of the miracle, well then it was completed during the day, and therefore we should have the feast during the day.

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    7. I don't hear RAZ/REF's question on Anonymous (A). I think that A is right. If the idea is that the yom ha'Purim obligates a person in a misa achilas seudah then he should be able to do it at any point during Purim. Purim starts at sunset and ends at sunset so why wouldn't one be yotzei if he eats his meal during the nighttime. It would seem that it is considered Purim at night time as evidenced by the fact we say al ha'nisim in bentsching/tefilah at night. I'm not really sure how yom tov came into the picture but I would say that if the idea by yom tov was simply that the day was mechayev in achilas seudah then there too one should be yotzei with just one seudah whether at night or during the day. The fact that the halacha is that a person must have a seudah at night and during the day means that something more complicated is going on by yom tov. I just don't see why we should take A's idea and assume that yom tov has the same halachic structure and then reject it since it turns out that the halacha is that one must have a seudah both at night and during the day on yom tov. Evaluating the idea in its own right it would seem that A is right - you would only need to have a seudah once during the halachic yom.

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    8. we think that this issue is really the critical issue in the sugya. we also think that Anonymous and Matt are saying different svaras with different difficulties.

      A)Anonymous is saying for RA, that the meal obligation is engendered by the nature of a festive day. If this is true we believe the obligation should certainly include the day and possibly also the night. How could eating at night, prevent the main part of the day from obligating in another meal? The entire day has the character of a festive day like yom tov.

      M) Matt is saying that the day obligates a meissa of eating a meal at any point during the day. (The Rav in fact, learned this way is Harrei Kedem). We think there are a few difficulties with this.
      1) This approach seems to reject the idea of happiness and festivities being part of the characterization of the day itself. the verse (as well as the rambam) that creates the obligation formulates it as a happy, festive day. (also, many rishonim learn that purim breaks the day of mourning for a mourner because it is a din in the yom).
      2)even if it is just a maissa it should still have to done only during the day. at the very, very least, preferably during the daytime. There is no other mitzva we can think of that has an equal option between day and night.
      3) the gemara on 7b has a case of Abayei where after he ate one meal, he went to someone else's house to have a second meal. if the obligation was only a maissa once and not a din in the entire day, what was he doing?

      We recognize that these questions are not insurmountable and this is a legitimate way to learn the sugya. In a sense, we will ultimately be saying something similar for RA, but we will be incorporating the idea into the framework of a yom of happiness.

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  4. 1. I would say that RA is learning that "y'mei mishteh v'simcha" is the reason why a Purim seudah was established. That being said, this requirement sets itself up halachically via the yom being the mechayev in a misa seudah. I do hear the point that it is somewhat difficult to say that RA abandons any halachic manifestation of "y'mei mishten v'simcha" by the Purim seudah.

    2. It is curious that there does not seem to be any mitzvah where one has the equal option to perform it either at night or during the day. However, if the idea is that the mechayev is the yom I cannot understand why one cannot discharge this obligation at night. As I mentioned above, it is still the yom at night time. This may be a side discussion but there are two routes to take from here. One route is to say that the idea by other mitzvos (say yom tov, for example) is that the yom is the mechayev and there is a problem with the way I'm conceptualizing this idea - really you should only have the option to fulfill the mitzva during the day time. If this is the case, some clarification would be nice. The second route is to say that I'm understanding the idea of the yom being the mechayev properly (and really you can be yotzei even at night time) but the way other mitzvos are formulated is different. If this is the case it'd be nice to how these other mitzvos are formulated so as to limit fulfillment only to the day time.

    3. It seems that we poskin like Rava. Since the idea is that seudah is merely a vehicle of klal yisroel rendering the yom ha'puim a day of mishteh v'simcha Abaye's actions make sense. You can ask a lot of questions on gemaras if you're using a side we don't poskin like.

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    1. Putting 1 and 3 together, it seems like a very big machlokes between Rava and RA. Possible, but difficult.
      Regarding 2, well formulated. Tzarich Iyun...

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    2. I don't mean to belabor the point, but it seems like there's a general methodology point to be clarified here. Is 3 really a good question? More generally, if there is a hava amina in the gemara or a side we don't poskin like can you really ask questions on it from other gemaras? We don't poskin like RA, so why should Abaye's actions have to make sense in the context of his position? I could see if there was an open mishnah it would be hard to imagine a hava amina that contradicts it. But when giving a sevara for a hava amina or a position we don't poskin like does one really have to be wary of possible contradictions with other (non-mishnaic) sources in the gemara?

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    3. You can definitely say that the case of Abaye is going according to the conclusion only. You would prefer not to in general, but it is only a preference. In this particular case, there is an additional point contained in question 3, that it makes the hava amina and the maskana, worlds apart (whether the happiness of purim is a din in the yom or just an obligation the do an action of eating a meal).

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    4. It is interesting to note that the Rav, in harerei kedem, went your way and explained RA as maintaining that seudas Purim is a maaseh mitzvah. Yet, he asked from abayei and similar questions (you can see his answer), despite the fact that we dont paskin like RA. Why? One possibility is that he didnt want to limit abayai to one shitah. More likely is that he didnt want to make such a wide machlokes between RA and Rava. If RA holds it's just a maaseh mitzvah, then it seems like he learns that Rava does as well. Therefore his questions are legitimate.

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    5. Where is it in harerei kedem?

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    6. harirai kedem - siman 204 in old edition

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  5. Hey REF/RAZ did you get a chance to review my idea?

    What I want to say is that the feast is celebrating either a)our tangible experience of the miracle(where we killed all of our enemies), if that is the case then it is the whole day of the 14th where the fighting was taking place the whole day or
    b)celebrating the whole story of the miracle, even the parts the jews themselves did not actually experience which ended the day the of the 14th.

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    1. Interesting approach. Even if a) and it is the whole of 14th, you still have to deal with the strange halachik formulation of either day or night. See our back and forth with Matt and anonymous and part 2 post. Your svara is more about the why than defining the what.

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    2. yea i realized today that this idea is philosophical. I thought that if (a) then you could do it either at day or night because the DAY of us experiencing the hashgacha was the mechayev, therefore at any point during the DAY this celebration can take place.

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