Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spirit of the Law: Purim Katan

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 142:10

“We don’t say tachanun, Kel Erech Apayim or lam’natzeach on the fourteenth and fifteenth of the first Adar and it is forbidden to eulogize or fast. On the fourteenth one should embellish meals slightly.”

The Chasam Sofer, zt”l, explains the above halachos in a surprising way. The Ramban in Sefer Hamitzvos, implies that Chanukah and Purim are actually Torah obligations. However, virtually any act done to commemorate their respective miracles, discharges this obligation. Megillah etc. on Purim and the lights etc. on Chanukah are not Torah obligations.

During a leap year there is an extra Adar and we celebrate Purim during the second Adar, but the Torah obligation applies to the fourteenth and fifteenth of the first Adar. By fulfilling the halachos of Purim Katan we discharge this Torah obligation.

Rav Tzaddok Hakohain from Lublin, zt”l, writes that on Purim Katan, every Jewish heart is brimming over with great joy and connection, the deep spiritual roots of the mitzvos of Purim. This joy is the main way to erase Amalek, the source of all evil, from within. It is therefore forbidden to eulogize or fast and we don't say tachanun etc. on these holy days.

Once some Chassidim visited Rav Mordechai of Nadvorna, zt”l, on Purim Katan. There were many lit candles in his house giving off a festive glow which puzzled the Chassidim.

They wondered aloud, “Why so many candles?”

“Why does the abundance of candles surprise you?” the tzaddik replied. “Today is Purim Katan, a great and wondrous day. Don’t you know that today all the worlds are filled with abundant spiritual illumination?”

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