Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Derashah: The Poetry of Purim Meshulash

Yes, I plan to deliver this as my derashah this Shabbos. Makes me feel like Ibn Gabirol.

Feel free to send me suggested additional lyrics in advance... but no limericks, they confuse me.

In one hundred and twenty-seven lands / from Hodu to Kush to Allentown,
The sun has set on a joyous Purim Day / and Shushan Purim has come around.
But if by your own excellent fortune / in the Old City of Yerushalayim you are found,
Then this year you observe three days of Purim / yes, that Purim Meshulash well-renowned.

Let us spend the next several minutes / coming to understand just how,
Purim could have been observed yesterday / and still be held tomorrow and now,
How a day which we celebrate out here / with just one day of gleeful revelry,
Could in a walled city become a celebration / which lasts for not one day but three.

Start with an unwalled urban area / like our own, or like Kalamazoo,
Where Purim is observed on the 14th of Adar / i.e. yesterday, for me and you.
But in a walled-in metropolis / like that Old City, or Shushan of the Kurds,
Purim is scheduled for the 15th of Adar / today, Shabbat, in other words.

This leads to a particular problem / for Megilah on Shabbat is not read.
The Sages long ago decreed this / so don’t let any notion of change in your head.
But then how may one observe Purim / in old Yerushalayim, in this very year?
If they cannot read the Megilah / it will not be Purim at all, I must fear!

So Purim becomes a three-day long party / with mitzvos across days one two three,
And the explanation for which mitzvos go where / will hopefully enlighten you and me.
We’ll learn concepts that underlie Purim / as well as the Torah on the whole,
So let us look at this Purim Meshulash / understanding it will be our goal.

There are four great mitzvos of Purim / count ‘em - one, two, three, four,
Starting with the Megilah reading / and continuing with gifts for the poor.
We also have Mishloach Manos / sending gifts of food from friend to friend,
And, of course, the Purim Seudah / that festive meal we all love to attend.

Megilah may not be delayed / according to the words in Esther’s scroll,
So Megilah must be moved up before Shabbos / so it is read on Friday by every soul.
Megilah is our message of thanks / a Hallel to Gd for saving our existence,
We would never, could never, procrastinate / our praise to Gd for His assistance.

Then because we accelerate the Megilah / we also push up the gift for the needy,
The reason for this is quite considerate / it’s not that the paupers are greedy.
Rather it’s because for many years / the paupers collected after the Megilah’s performance,
So to make the lives of the needy people easier / on Friday we fulfill our ordinance.

On Shabbos itself in our Holy Land of Israel / in the cities that remain walled to this day,
The only practice observed on the 15th of Adar / is reading about the war against Amalayk.
One might have thought we would eat the Purim Feast / as part of our Shabbos delight,
But because that would reduce the honor of Shabbos / we needs must postpone that Purim rite.

This teaches us the honor of Shabbos / by separating one joy from the other,
A lesson with far-reaching implications: / Never to let one person overshadow his brother.
So the feast is delayed until Sunday / and along with it must come Mitzvah Four,
Yes, the mitzvah of distributing Seudah food to our friends / also must wait one day more.

Now if you're in need of a mnemonic / the better these details to memorize,
Fear not, for we've got one that's simple / and cuts the complexity down to size:
If Spring Forward, Fall Back works to help you / to remember how to set the clock's hands,
then Megilah Forward, Seudah Back is the secret / and it works in all time zones and lands.

That, then, is Purim Meshulash / Purim days one, two and three,
Another reason for aliyah to Israel / extra Purim is good enough for me!
The next time this calendar will occur / is in the year two-thousand and twenty-one,
Gd-willing we will be in Yerushalayim to see it / and celebrate the Meshulash as one.


  1. Very fun!

    So why does an Eruv create a "wall" for Shabbos purposes, but not for Purim?

  2. Tzipporah-
    Thanks for commenting; we'll see what people say on Shabbos.

    A couple of points:
    1. Eruv doesn't actually create a "wall", as much as it creates a doorway. This is only a side note, though; the real issue is #2-
    2. The standard of "walled city" is that it had a wall in the days of Joshua.

  3. Wow - so if you live in a place that USED to have a wall in the time of Joshua, but no longer does, would you have Shushan Purim?

    Now I have to go learn more about the Eruv...

  4. First of all I don't get it. It should say megillah backward and seudah forward, no?
    Second, the next time is 2013, no?
    Third of all, did anyone throw tomatoes at you when you did this?

  5. Melodious One-
    1. It depends on which way you keep your backwards and forwards.

    2. Nope. That's a regular Sunday Purim and Monday Shushan Purim.

    3. Nope.