Laws and Customs of Purim

Laws and Customs of Purim

Megillat Esther

  • The Scroll of Esther is read publicly in the evening and on the morning of Purim. Men and Women are obligated to hear the megillah both times.
  • It must be read from a scroll written in accordance with Halachah.
  • The reader and the audience must have the 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.

Prayer

  • The prayer ‘al hanissim’ is added in the Silent Prayer (Shmoneh Esrei) and in Grace after Meals (Birkat Hamazon). 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.

Mishloach Manot/Gifts of Food

  • 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 or drink, ready to eat. It is preferable to send the gift via a third party. Matanot L’evyonim/Gifts to the poor
  • 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. (No post-dated checks.)
  • 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).

Seudat Purim/The Purim Feast

  • It is obligatory to partake of a festive meal on the day of Purim.
  • One should drink more wine than one is accustomed to.
  • It is proper to invite guests, especially the needy.
  • The conversation should be focused on the words of the Torah.

Customs

  • Many have a custom to dress up in costumes.
  • It is customary to give charity to all who ask.