Thursday, March 01, 2007

the takanah of reading megillah at night

Tosfos’ opinion (Meg 4) is that a bracha of she’hechiyanu is recited before reading megillah during the day even though it has already been recited on the reading of the previous night. The Rambam disagrees, and holds that since she’hechiyanu has been recited at night it is not repeated. I offered a few approaches to understand this machlokes last year, but wanted to add two new ideas this year. The gemara quotes R’ Yehoshua ben Levi as saying one is obligated to read the megillah at night and repeat it during the day, but no mention of this night time reading appears anywhere in the Mishna. Perhaps, some intriguingly suggest, the original takanah of megillah was to read only during the day, with the full set of brachos. The night reading was only a later takkanah made by R’ Yehoshua ben Levi. This idea is consistent with the Turei Even’s chiddush that the reading by day is a chiyuv m’divrei kabbalah, but at night is only a takanah derabbanan. (This idea makes for a difficult reading of a gemara on daf 20 that I don’t want to get bogged down in, so I’ll just leave you with the mareh makom).

Tosfos proves that the day reading is primary from the fact that Purim seudah is done during the day but not the night before. R’ Soloveitchik (quoted in Moadei haRav) used this as a springboard for another interesting distinction between the two readings. The Rav suggested that other Yamim Tovim have a kedushas hayom from which stems all the associated mitzvos of the day. The kedushas hayom of each Yom Tov begins with sunset the previous night. Purim, however, does not have a kedushas hayom which obligates mitzvos. There are mitzvos hayom - mishloach manos, matanos l’evyonim, kerias hamegillah - which must be done on the day of Purim, to the exclusion of the previous night, but nothing more. The reading at night is not part of the mitzvos hayom of Purim, but is just a preparatory act in anticipation of the day of Purim itself.


  1. Pursuant to the subject of last year's post: Would it be possible to suggest that the machloket about shehecheyanu revolves around how to "count" the mitsva of reading the megillah? In other words, the premise of Tosafot and the Ran is clearly that the readings of the night and day are two separate institutions. This explains their position that a shehecheyanu is required for both readings, and accounts for their discussion of which reading is more significant or central to Purim.

    Rambam, on the other hand, may maintain that they combine together to constitute a single mitsvah accomplished in two "installments". This would mirror his approach to the Shema, where we find that the evening and morning Shema each have their own berachot, time schedule, etc., yet they are subsumed under a single mitsvah "to read Shema in the evening and the morning", at least according to the Rambam. If this is the Rambam's true position, it would not make any sense to assign greater significance to one of the readings over the other - on the contrary, they are interdependent like the readings of Shema, and completing only one of them is a lack in the overall kiyum.

  2. Last year's chakira was whether the Rambam disagrees with Tos' premis that the day reading is different than the night, or agrees that the two are distinct, but holds that you can't say she'hechiyanu on the same ma'aseh mitzva twice.
    You are coming down on the side of the first tzad, with the added chiddush of counting both readings as a single mitzvah. I am trying to think if there is any nafka minah - why, acc to your approach, is mishloach manos always connected with the time of the day megillah reading, but not at night? Or is mishloach manos just a completely seperate kiyum?

  3. Anonymous1:27 PM

    Interesting approach -- it could help explain the rishonim who say that the benei ha-kefarim dont read at all at night -- because RYBL's takanah (or whatever the later derabanan takanah) did not apply to them.

  4. Binyan Shlomo (58) in the times of the Mishna they only read the Megillah by day and not by night until Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi came along.

    Har Tzvi (120) disagrees.

  5. what are the parenthetical numbers in ur post avromi?

  6. the number to the teshuva