(Jeremiah 7:21-8:3, 9:22-23)
Shabbat Shushan Purim
(1 Samuel 15:1-34)
This Shabbat, the residents of Jerusalem will read the same haftarah that they read last week for Shabbat Zachor and not the haftarah that is read everywhere else in the world. This is because this Shabbat is Purim in Jerusalem. Jerusalem, having been a walled city from the time of Joshua, Moses\’ disciple, celebrates Purim on the 15th of Adar, a day later than the rest of the world. (See Esther 9:18) This year, when Purim falls on Thursday night and Friday, it means that Purim in Jerusalem should fall on Friday night and Saturday. This, of course, poses a halachic dilemma, since the rabbis ordained that Megilat Esther should not be read on Shabbat.
How, then, do the residence of Jerusalem celebrate Purim? Purim, this year in Jerusalem, is spread over three days and is known as Purim Mshulash (Three day Purim). On Thursday night and Friday morning, the residents of Jerusalem read the megillah just like Jews throughout the world. On Friday morning, they also give Matanot L\’evyonim (gifts to the poor) like all other Jews outside of Jerusalem since this mitzvah is especially associated with the reading of the megillah so that the poor know when to expect this special gift. On Friday, however, the Torah will not be read in Jerusalem. Nor will the special prayer addition \”Al hanisim\” be recited in the Amidah and in Birkat Hamazon. These will be recited instead on Shabbat since Shabbat is technically Shushan Purim. In addition, since Shabbat is Purim, a special haftarah was needed. There is only one possible special story in the Prophets associated with Purim, namely, the story about Agag, found in the book of Samuel.
The Purim Seudah (the special festive meal of Purim) and Mishloach Manot (the food gifts given to friends) are left for Sunday even though Purim is not otherwise reflected in the liturgy for the day other than the fact that Tachanun is not said. These practices are left until Sunday so that their unique celebratory nature will be recognized since special meals are already a common part of the Shabbat ritual.
So, blessed be Mordechai, cursed be Haman; blessed be Esther, cursed be Zeresh; and don\’t forget to remember the merits of Harbonah. (Look him up in the Megillah.)
This study piece is offered as a service of the United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva. It is prepared by Rabbi Mordechai (Mitchell) Silverstein, senior lecturer in Talmud and Midrash at the Conservative Yeshiva. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The United Synagogue Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem offers students of all backgrounds the skills for studying Jewish texts. We are a vibrant, open-minded egalitarian community of committed Jews who learn, practise and grow together. Our goal is to provide students the ability and desire to continue Jewish learning and practice throughout their lives. Rashei Yeshiva: Rabbi Joel Levy & Dr. Joshua Kulp. Rabbi Joel Roth, Rosh Yeshiva Emeritus . Sponsors – The Conservative Yeshiva would like to thank the following for their generous support of the Haftarah Commentary: