What time is seudah? Shushan Purim on a Friday
When Purim is on a Friday this already full day – with longer davening, megillah reading, distributing matanot l’evyonim and mishloach manot, and a seudah – must also accommodate shabbat preparations.[i] While this is a rare occurrence for most, for those who celebrate Shushan Purim, such as Jerusalemites, this is the sixth time in just 11 years.[ii]
Finding a good time for a festive seudah on a Friday is not an easy thing to do. In general Purim seudah can be at any time of day, as learned from the verse: “Like the days the Jews rested from their enemies… days of feasting and joy…” (Shulchan Aruch 695:2) The verse uses the word “yamim” “days” – indicating that the feast and celebrations should be in the day and not at night.
But a festive meal on a Friday presents a problem as there is a general preference not to have a large meal on Friday, and not to start any meal at all in the latter part of the day (either after midday or the 9th halachic hour) to give proper honor to shabbat and save appetite for Friday night dinner.[iii] Technically there is no prohibition against starting a meal at any point before shabbat, but refraining from doing so is an element of the fulfillment of kavod shabbat. This makes the popular afternoon seudah of other years problematic. To balance between kavod (honoring) shabbat and chagigat (celebrating) Purim halachic authorities propose two suggestions for the optimal time for seudah on erev shabbat.
Some halachic authorities prefer a morning seudah in general, as zrizim makdimim l’mitzvot (the fastidious perform mitzvot at the earliest possible time).[iv] And while Rema generally favored an afternoon seudah, he favored a morning seudah on Friday Purim to honor shabbat.
For some people morning seudah is an excellent option, for others it does not leave enough time to perform the other mitzvot of the day the way they are accustomed.[v] While one may technically deliver matanot l’evyonim and mishloach manot at any point during the day, many are of the opinion that these gifts are meant to enhance or even comprise the seudah, so they should be delivered before the seudah. Additionally, a large meal, even in the morning, may leave many without a proper appetite for Shabbat. Therefore, some authorities preferred an alternative.
The gemara in Pesachim (100a) describes a meal that begins on the eve of shabbat or a festival continues into the night. This meal is allowed if one stops eating at shkiya (sundown) until they make kiddush – since it is prohibited to eat otherwise. Continuing the meal on shabbat meal fulfils the obligation of a shabbat meal and has become known as “pores mapa u’mekadesh” as one covers the bread and says kiddush before continuing.
This long meal is permitted even without a special occasion, but as beginning the meal before shabbat may diminish the kavod of shabbat, generally it is not considered ideal. Additionally there are a few complications – such as how to split up the meal, when to daven, and what to say in birkat hamazon. Nevertheless, some halachic authorities maintain this is the best option on Friday Purim.[vi]
Pores mapa on Shushan Purim?
It’s important to note that halachic opinions that encourage the option of pores mapa mainly refer to Purim on the 14th; it is unclear if they would also encourage this option on Shushan Purim. Pores mapa offers a way to continue the yearly tradition many have to begin seudah later in the day and continue into the night. This tradition may stem from the abovementioned verse that mentions the plural “days” of Purim and indicates that both days of Purim have an element of joy.[vii] Continuing into the night has the added bonus of allowing more time to fulfill the other mitzvot of the day;[viii] but if the main reasoning for this custom is to continue the seudah into Shushan Purim as well, it is not applicable to those celebrating Shushan Purim.
Pores mapa and al hanisim
Pores mapa presents an additional challenge – should one recite al hanisim or retze in birkat hamazon?[ix] According to Meiri when extending the Purim meal on a Friday into Shabbat one can still recite al hanisim in birkat hamazon because it is still Shushan Purim. But this is no longer true when extending the Shushan Purim seudah into Shabbat.[x] It might seem strange to have Purim seudah without saying al hanisim afterward, but this is not new to Jerusalemites, as we do so on Purim Meshulash (Shushan Purim falls on Shabbat) – Purim seudah is on Sunday, but al hanisim is recited on shabbat.[xi]
So what should I do?
The main reasoning for both these traditions seems to be how to best honor Shabbat and celebrate Purim. As this is subjective there is room for people to choose what works best for them. Some people would be too stressed to enjoy their seudah and go into shabbat in the middle of a meal, this would not feel like an honor to shabbat. These people should have seudah earlier in the day – preferably in the morning or before midday.
Pores mapa is an excellent option for those who don’t feel they can properly celebrate in the morning or who would prefer to spend the morning reading megillah to the homebound or distributing matanot l’evyonim or mishlochei manot. There is no problem with pores mapa when it is done respectfully, in a way that honors shabbat and does not diminish from its sanctity. [xii]
Suggestion for those doing pores mapa
One should daven mincha before the meal and may begin at any point before shkiya, but as we said it is recommended to start earlier, either by the 9th halachic hour of the day.[xiii] To properly honor both shabbat and Purim, one should ensure they serve what could be considered a meal on both, saving substantial appetite for shabbat – since it is considered more holy.[xiv]
At candle lighting time one should pause the meal and light candles.[xv] Some have the custom to pray kabbalat shabbat as well. Maariv may be postponed until after birkat hamazon. Before resuming the meal the bread should be covered, the table should be tidied, and kiddush must be recited over wine or grape juice.[xvi] If one has already made hagafen the blessing is omitted from kiddush.[xvii] It is preferable to have 2 loaves of challah for shabbat as well.
As the main part of the meal is on Shabbat when it is no longer Purim or Shushan Purim, it seems that al hanisim should not be recited in birkat hamazon.[xviii] For those who do not want to miss out on an opportunity to include this prayer in birkat hamazon I humbly suggest eating a light meal with bread in the morning, making their “main” seudah pores mapa.[xix] This way one is able to give the proper honor to both shabbat and Purim.
[i] My colleague Rabbanit Chanital Ofan wrote an exhaustive guide to seudat Purim on a Friday. This article explores an aspect she did not discuss – that of Shushan Purim on a Friday. It has basic guidelines for pores mapa, but I recommend reading Rabbanit Ofan’s article for in depth explanations.
[ii] The Jewish people under Achashverosh’s rule fought on the 13th of Adar and rested on the 14th of Adar; in Shushan they fought for one more day and rested on the 15th. While most of the world celebrates the miraculous salvation of Purim on the 14th of Adar, to commemorate the salvation of the Jews of Shushan Jews in walled cities from the time of Yehoshua (Jerusalem for example) celebrate Purim on the 15th.
[iii] Pesachim 99b, Rambam Hilchot Shabbat 30:4 and Raavad ad loc., Shulchan Aruch OC 249:2, Mishna Berura ad loc.
[iv] Trumat HaDeshen 110, Kaf HaChaim 695:23
[v] Magen Avraham 695:5
[vi] Responsa Maharil 56
[vii] Tractate Megilla 7b, Darkei Moshe OC 695:4
[viii] Trumat HaDeshen 110
[ix] In general, there is a halachic question of what to say when beginning a meal one day and ending it the next – such as after shabbat, before rosh chodesh, etc. Some rule by when most of the meal was eaten (Shulchan Aruch and Rema 695:3), others when the blessing is recited (Beit HaBechira Ketubot 7b, Responsa Rosh 22:6).
[x] See Sha’arei Teshuva and Eshel Avraham OC 695:3
[xi] Although it is always appropriate to offer praise for God’s miraculous salvation, in al hanisim we say “bayamim ha-hem, bazman hazeh” – in those days at this time. Once Purim is over that is no longer true and therefore should not be included in our prayers. Additionally, as it is not BOTH shabbat and Purim only one should be recited – retze. (MB 695:15)
[xii] Rashba Gittin 38b explains that if done regularly this is an affront to kavod shabbat, but is not problematic when necessary.
[xiii] For Jerusalemites- 14:43 (2:43 PM), but to be sure one should check zmanim in their area, which can easily be done online.
[xiv] Personally, I favor a big meal with many courses, so I generally do a light though fancy first and second course, and save the man course and dessert for after kiddush.
[xv] Technically, one may light candles anytime after plag mincha, but the idea is to split the meal between Purim and shabbat.
[xvi] While many indicate that pores mapa only means covering the bread, there are good reasons to think it includes the food as well, certainly the main dishes. Rabbannit Chanital Ofan argues compellingly for the latter.
[xvii] Rambam Hilchot Shabbat 29:12
[xviii] Beit HaBechira ibid , Eliya Zuta OC 695:4
[xix] Based on Be’er Hetev OC 695:5