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Laws of Purim


Purim is preceded by the Fast of Esther, which begins at dawn on the 13th of Adar, and continues until nightfall. When the 13th is on Shabbat, the Fast of Esther is observed on the preceding Thursday. It is forbidden to eat and drink on this day (one may, however, wash and wear leather shoes).

Reading of the Scroll of Esther—Kriat Hamegillah

The Scroll of Esther is read publicly in the evening and on the morning of Purim. It must be read from a scroll written in accordance with Halachah (Jewish law). The reader and the audience must have intent to fulfill the mitzvah of reading, and to fulfill the obligation of the blessings before and after. It is customary to make noise when the name of Haman is mentioned. It is forbidden to speak from the time of the blessings before the reading until the end of the blessings after the reading. Ideally the scroll should be read in the presence of a minyan (10 people for community prayer.)


The prayer al hanissim is added in the Silent Prayer (Sh'moneh Esreih) and in grace after meals. If one forgot al hanissim, one does not repeat the prayer. During the morning service (shacharit), the Torah is read.The prayer of repentance, tachanun, is not recited, nor is the prayer lamenatzeach.

Gifts to friends—Mishlo-ach Manot

One is obligated to give at least one gift to one fellow Jew. The more the better. The gift must consist of at least two items of food, ready to eat. It is preferable to send the gift via a third party.

Gifts to the poor—Matanot Le'evyonim

One is obligated to give a gift of money sufficient for one meal to at least two poor people. The more the better. Funds must be available on the day of Purim. It is preferable to take care of this obligation early in the day. The gift may be given to a third party in order to distribute on the day of Purim. More should be spent on gifts to the poor than on gifts to friends (unless they are also poor).

The Festive Meal—Seudat Purim

It is obligatory to partake of a festive meal on the day of Purim. It is customary to eat food with seeds—e.g., hamentashen (with poppy seed filling). One should drink more wine than one is accustomed to. It is correct to invite guests, especially the needy. The conversation should be focused on words of Torah.

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