Laws of Purim 2024

One should make an extra effort to hear the special reading of Parshas Zachor being read at shul this Shabbos. There will be a second reading of Parshas Zachor 10 minutes afters services at Ner Tamid. 

If one missed the reading, one should make sure to be in shul for the reading of the Torah on Purim day and have in mind to fulfill one’s obligation through the reading of that passage.

Though women are not obligated to hear Parshas Zachor according to many opinions, many women make an extra effort to attend shul for Parshas Zachor.



In the times of the Temple, announcements were made throughout the Land of Israel on Rosh Chodesh Adar that everyone should donate a half-shekel to the Bais HaMikdash to be used to pay for the daily sacrifices. Despite the lack of Bais HaMikdash there is an ancient custom that we donate money to the poor before Purim to perpetuate this practice.

This custom is independent of the Rabbinic Mitzvah of giving charity on Purim. 

To properly fulfill this custom one should give three half-coins. (This is done because the Torah says the word “Terumah/ Donation” three times in the section that deals with this Mitzvah.) Since most people do not have three half coins of their own many shuls leave three half coins out for people to acquire (not borrow). By placing an equivalent amount of money in the basket one acquires the three coins and then gives those three coins to charity to fulfill their obligation.

There are varying customs as to whom is included in this Mitzvah. Many have the custom that every member of the family should give (or should be given for).

This year, the custom is to give it on Taanis Esther which is on Thursday. If you were unable to do so, one can still do so on Purim. 


This Thursday is Taanis Esther. 

One who is pregnant or nursing should not fast. One who has a severe headache can break their fast.


IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT DRESSING UP MOTZEI SHABBOS: It is forbidden to prepare on Shabbos for after Shabbos. Therefore, one cannot get dressed up until Shabbos is over. One must wait until after Shabbos is over, then if they are dressing up, put on their costume, and then travel to shul.

Havdallah is made after the reading of the Megillah.  

At Ner Tamid, Maariv will place at 8:20 PM and Megillah will begin approximately 8:35 PM. 

There is a Mitzvah to hear the Megillah read both in the evening and in the morning. It is an obligation for both men and women. Like all Mitzvos, there is an obligation on the parents to teach their children how to fulfill the Mitzvah. The appropriate age is subjective. When a child can sit through the entire Megillah reading (silently) they are ready to go hear the Megillah. Before this age, it is better to keep the child at home (or attend our wonderful youth program) so that they will not prevent others from fulfilling their obligation.

It is forbidden to speak during the reading of the Megillah. If one spoke they have still fulfilled their obligation.

To fulfill their obligation every word of the Megillah must be heard. 

One needs to pay attention to every word of the Megillah to fulfill their obligation. Paying attention means that if someone were to ask them what was just read they could answer. If one has less concentration than that it is questionable if they fulfilled their obligation.

If one did not hear or pay attention they can catch up by reading the missed words from the text in front of them (even though it is not a Megillah) and catching up to the reader.


One of the Mitzvos of Purim is to give gifts to the poor. To fulfill this Mitzvah, every adult must give a meal or the monetary value of a meal to two poor individuals. The Mitzvah is to specifically do this during Purim day.

Practically speaking, one has what to rely upon to give as little as $10 for each poor individual for a total of twenty dollars. Although the Mitzvah can only be fulfilled during the day, if one would like they could place their money in the basket in the shul on Purim night. (This is because I, acting as your agent to deliver the money, do not take possession of the money until the daytime.) (One fulfills their obligation to give to two people as from a Halachic standpoint we can assume that the money you gave was divided between two poor individuals.)

Even after fulfilling one’s obligation, the Shulchan Aruch teaches us that on Purim we should strive to give money to any poor person who asks for help.



There is a Mitzvah to have a festive meal on Purim. While there is a Mitzvah to have a festive meal on many holidays, the festive meal is usually meant to facilitate the joy of the holiday but on Purim the festive meal is an end to itself. The reason for this is that on Purim festive meals played a major role in the Purim story – according to the Medrashim the Jewish People sinned by attending the festive meal that Achashveirosh threw and we rectify this by having a festive meal that is a Mitzvah and the meal that  Esther made for Achashveirosh and Haman where she revealed her identity and turned the tables on Haman.

The meal should take place during the day. It may extend into the evening.


There is a debate among the commentators whether or not a person should become intoxicated on Purim. Many commentators suggest that a person should drink a little more than usual and if possible, take a little nap after drinking and in doing so, one fulfills the custom of drinking on Purim. 


While there is what to rely upon to drink more than that, it is certainly forbidden to endanger one’s life in any way possible. If you plan on drinking please make sure you have a designated driver. In addition, while studies have shown that modelling healthy drinking is more beneficial for children than no modelling at all, it is extremely frightening and unsettling for a child to see their parent out of control. If you do decide to drink, please do so responsibly. 


If one should not be drinking alcohol due to any concerns of addictions or any other medical concerns, it is forbidden to drink. They could drink a cup of grape juice instead. 


There are many reasons behind the custom of drinking. The simplest explanation is to commemorate the fact that the Purim story revolved around drinking. From the Jew’s participation at Achashveirosh’s festive meal to the drinking of Haman on the day Esther accused him of trying to kill her, wine plays a central role in the story.


The Sefas Emes suggests that we drink to demonstrate our lack of worth. An intoxicated individual cannot be taken seriously. Similarly, the Jewish People did not have any merit to be saved on Purim and it was only through G-d’s kindness that we were saved. Drinking, he suggests, is to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously and to recognize how dependant we are on G-d’s mercy.  


Laws of the Three Weeks and Nine Days 2023

The Three Weeks of Mourning begin July 6th. It is a time of mournful reflection on the destroyed Bais HaMikdash and subsequent tragedies. In order to instill within ourselves a sense of loss, our Sages instituted numerous restrictions to create a feeling of sadness. The Talmud writes that one who mourns the destroyed Jerusalem will merit to see it rebuilt.

It is customary not to say the blessing of She’hechiyanu during the Three Weeks. Therefore, one should avoid eating fruits that they have not eaten for a year, as this would necessitate saying the blessing. In addition, one should not wear new clothing that requires making the blessing of She’hechiyanu. This includes new suits and new coats. One may purchase these items during the Three Weeks as it is wearing them for the first time that is a problem. One may purchase and wear any other type of clothing during the Three Weeks.

One may not cut hair during the Three Weeks. Waxing and eyebrow care are permitted.

One may not listen to lively music during the Three Weeks. This is true for live music as well as recorded music. Most have the tradition to not listen to any music, even if it is not lively.

A Capella music is a matter of debate but there is what to rely upon to listen to such music.

Listening to music as a way of staying awake in a car, to help one concentrate, or something of that nature is permitted.

The custom is to refrain from doing anything that can even be remotely dangerous during the Three Weeks because of the bad track record the Jewish People have during this time period.Traditionally, this has included swimming in lakes or rivers and getting elective surgery. 

 Laws of the Nine Days

The ‘9 Days’ begin Wednesday evening, July 18th. In a very general sense, what is forbidden to be done during this period is: Home improvements, laundering, buying or wearing new clothes, eating meat, drinking wine, and bathing for pleasure. We will discuss the details of all these restrictions below.

Home Improvement and Gardening: It is forbidden to do any home improvements such as painting, building, adding extensions. One may not hire a non-Jew to do this type of work either. Light housework, such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and basic cleaning is permitted. In terms of gardening, basic upkeep such as mowing the lawn, watering plants and flowers is permitted. Planting new seeds or flowers is not allowed.

Laundering: Included in the prohibition of laundering during the Nine Days is ironing, or sending any clothes to the dry cleaners (even if they will be ready after the Nine Days).

One may wash clothing for children aged six and under.

If one has no clean clothing for Shabbos one may wash clothing on Thursday and Friday so that they will have clean clothing for Shabbos.

Spot cleaning is permitted.

During the first days of mourning for a loved one, one may not wear freshly laundered clothing. The same holds true for the Nine Days when we all mourn the destruction of the Batei Mikdash. The definition of freshly laundered clothing is clothing that has not been worn since it has been laundered. This does not mean that one must wear dirty clothing. Rather, once clothing has been worn for a half hour [prior to the Nine Days] it can be worn during the Nine Days. The prohibition of wearing freshly laundered clothing is limited to outer garments as opposed to undergarments and pajamas.

One is allowed to wear freshly-laundered clothing on Shabbos.

If one runs out of clothing that was pre-worn before the Nine Days, one may cause the clothing to be considered not fresh by putting them on a floor that is dusty, removing the creases by stepping on the clothing, or by placing the clothing in a laundry basket with dirty laundry. All of these methods are only to be used post-facto. Ideally, one should prepare clothing before the Nine Days by wearing any outer garment that will be worn for at least a half hour.

As opposed to the Three Weeks when buying clothing of significance is forbidden, during the Nine Days buying any article of clothing is prohibited. (As a practical tip – before going Nine Days without laundry, it’s worth double checking that you have enough clothing! Also, don’t forget to buy non-leather shoes before Tisha B’av.) If there is a major sale that will be over before the Nine Days have passed it is permitted to buy a new article of clothing.

It is forbidden to make any new clothing (sewing, weaving, knitting, etc.) but it is permitted to sew up a tear or a button etc.

It is forbidden to eat meat/poultry or drink wine through the Nine Days. There are two reasons why this is so – 1) meat and wine increase happiness 2) it serves as a reminder of the meat of the sacrifices and the wine libations that are no longer.

One may use meat utensils but may not eat food that was cooked with meat (like eating a potato from a meat chulent).

There are no restrictions of meat and wine on Shabbos.

Included in the prohibition of drinking wine is drinking grape juice. However, any other alcoholic beverage is permitted. Wine that is used for cooking is allowed provided that there is no distinct taste of wine in the food.

Drinking wine/ grape juice on Shabbos is permitted. Havdallah poses a challenge as it is after Shabbos. For Havdallah, one should not use beer in place of wine. Rather, if there is a child between the age of 6 and 9 available they should drink the wine/ grape juice. If not, the one who made Havdallah should drink it. As is the case every Saturday night, one should ideally drink a r’viis which measures approximately 3.8 fl. oz.

A few final laws and customs that pertain to the Nine Days:

During the Nine Days, it is forbidden to swim, be it for pleasure or for exercise. If one must swim for medical reasons, please feel free to contact me to discuss further.

One should try not to be involved in a court case during the Nine Days if possible.

The custom is to push off saying Kiddush Levana until after Tisha B’Av because Kiddush Levana is supposed to be said in a state of joy.



Laws of Lulav and Esrog

Who can think of Sukkos? We haven’t even celebrated Rosh Hashana!

The Talmud instructs us to study the laws pertaining to a holiday 30 days before the holiday. It’s less than 30 days to Sukkos and the laws of Lulav and Esrog are complicated and many. So let’s begin!

Before we get into the what, let’s take a moment to discuss the why. There are a number of reasons suggested as to why we take the Lulav and Esrog on Sukkos.

The Rambam (in the Guide to the Perplexed) sees Sukkos as the culmination of the Exodus. As our ancestors traveled through the desert there were no trees or vegetation. Upon arriving in the land of Israel, the lush greenery overwhelmed them and made them immediately aware and grateful for the beautiful land that they were given. By taking the four species on Sukkos, species that were readily available throughout the land of Israel, we are reminding ourselves of the excitement our ancestors felt, and this in turn should inspire us to be grateful for the gift of Eretz Yisrael.

The Sefer Hachinuch suggests another reason behind the Mitzvah of Lulav and Esrog. The holiday of Sukkos is described in the Torah as Chag Ha’asif, the festival of gathering, as the holiday coincides with the harvesting of one’s produce. The harvested produce would naturally bring great joy to the owners. The taking of the Lulav and Esrog is a way of channeling the self-joy we experience at this time and direct it to G-d. Additionally, celebrations can at times take a turn away from the spiritual. By utilizing the same items that we are ecstatic over, we ensure that our celebration will maintain a spiritual flavor.


There are three layers to an Esrog; the glaze on the outside, the green/ yellow skin, and the white flesh. When purchasing an Esrog, one of the things to look for is if any of the flesh is missing. If it is, the Esrog cannot be used on the first day and therefore should not be purchased. It may take an expert to distinguish between the different layers and to ascertain if flesh is missing or if there is a discoloration.


If any part of the stem of the Esrog is missing it is invalid to be used on the first day of Sukkos. The same is true if any part of the flesh is missing (see Laws #3). On the second day of Sukkos, if a small part of the flesh or stem is missing it may be used.


All Esrogs grow with a pittum but many fall off as it grows. If the pittum falls off after it is harvested it is invalid. If a little bit of wood of the pittum remains it may be used.

One may use an Esrog whose pittum fell off on Chol Hamoed if no other Esrog’s are available.

Discoloration of the Esrog can make it invalid. White, black, dark brown, and dark green are colors that can make an Esrog invalid. One discolored dot on the top of the Esrog invalidates the Esrog. The top of the Esrog is defined by where the Esrog begins to slant. Two such dots on any other part of the Esrog invalidates.

However, for these dots to cause an invalidation they must be seen when holding the Esrog at a comfortable distance. Seeing these dots up close does not invalidate the Esrog. 

Shaking the Lulav and Esrog: Take the Lulav in the right hand, Esrog in the left and hold the Esrog upside down. Say the blessing (on the first day a second blessing of Shehechiyanu is added), turn the Esrog over and shake in the four directions as well as up and down.


After Sukkos, one may dispose of their Lulav and Esrog in a way that is not degrading. Although some have the custom of burning them with their Chameitz so as to include them in another Mitzvah one may wrap them in a bag and place them in the regular waste.


Laws of the Sukkah

A few Halachos pertaining to building a Sukkah:

– One must first build the walls and then place the s’chach. Placing the s’chach first and then building the walls would invalidate the Sukkah.

– One must make sure there is no overhang (roof, leaves, etc.) over the s’chach. Any overhang invalidates the s’chach directly underneath.

– Ideally, one should not rest the s’chach directly on something that cannot be used as s’chach. Therefore, one should not place their s’chach directly on metal beams. Rather, they should place wooden beams over the metal ones and then lay the s’chach on top. Similarly, one should not tie their s’chach down with any material that cannot be used as s’chach (such as string or rope). One can usually get their s’chach to stay put by placing a piece of wood over the s’chach.

– S’chach must be heavy/ secure enough to be able to withstand a normal wind.

– If one needs to, they may tie their Sukkah down with a material that is 100% natural and unprocessed. 

There is a Mitzvah to decorate one’s Sukkah.

One Sukkos begins the Mitzvah is to treat the Sukkah like one’s home. This includes eating and sleeping.

Technically speaking, it is only when one eats bread or foods made of grains that one must eat in the Sukkah. It is ideal to eat everything in the Sukkah.

In terms of sleeping some are lenient not to sleep due to the weather, to keep a spouse company, or if they don’t feel safe. Again, ideally a person should sleep in the Sukkah.

One should light Yom Tov/ Shabbos candles in the Sukkah unless they are concerned of them blowing out or of a fire. In such cases, it would be better to light the candles in one’s home.

When eating bread or food made of grains in the Sukkah one makes the following blessing: Baruch Ata… Asher Kid’shanu b’mitzvososv v’tzivanu leisheiv basukkah. This blessing is only said if one’s eats of the food in a portion the the size of an egg or larger.

When making Havdallah there are differing opinions aboutmaking this blessing. One should eat some food afterwards that would necessitate the blessing to fulfill all opinions.

If one forgot to make the blessing one can make it during the meal. Even if one remembers after they finish saying Birkas HaMazon one can still say the blessing but they should remain in the Sukkah for a few moments afterwards.


Rain in the Sukkah:

If it is raining hard enough that it could be felt through the Sukkah a person is exempt from eating in the Sukkah. It is actually forbidden to say the blessing of sitting in the Sukkah when it is raining.

If a person left the Sukkah because of rain and already sat down to eat and then the rain stopped they do not have to go back to the Sukkah.

When it rains on the first night:

The laws of rain in the Sukkah on the first night are different than other nights. On the first night one should wait for a while before eating in one’s home. Ideally, one should wait up until an hour (if that is not practical due to young children or very hungry people then one need not wait that long). If it is still raining, one should make kiddush in the sukkah without the blessing of Leisheiv Basukkah. They should also eat a small portion of bread in the Sukkah and then finish the rest of the meal in one’s home.


Laws of Tisha B’av and the Day After

The following activities are forbidden on Tisha B’av: 

– Eating and drinking (If one has any medical concerns please contact me before the fast)

– Intimacy

– Studying Torah that does not pertain to Tisha B’av

– Washing oneself in any way. This includes a prohibition against brushing one’s teeth and putting on deodorant. However, one may wash their fingers upon waking up. If one’s hands become dirty in any way, one can wash whatever part of their hand is dirty. If one wishes to bathe a child or wash dishes and their hands will get wet in the process it is permitted to do so.

On Tisha B’av one may not wear leather shoes. 

One should not greet others. If one is greeted, it is permitted to respond. 

One must sit on a low stool until Halachic midday, which in Baltimore will be at 1:13 PM on Tisha B’av.

One should not work for the first half of Tisha B’av. Ideally, one should not work the entire day.

There are some who sleep in a less comfortable fashion on the night of Tisha B’av. For example, if they normally sleep with two pillows they sleep with one. If they normally sleep with one pillow they sleep with none. If one can do so, it is a meaningful custom. If it will prevent them from sleeping and they will have a harder time fasting, or they have some condition which will make sleeping (or the next day) extremely uncomfortable, there is no need to do so.

Usually, the restrictions of the Nine Days continue until midday of the day after Tisha B’av. This year. 2023, because the day after is Erev Shabbos the following applies: 

Laundry may be done as soon as the fast is over (whether or not the clothing is needed for Shabbos). 

All other restrictions of the Nine Days end Friday morning. 

Halacha: When Tisha B’av Falls out on Motzei Shabbos

This year, 2022, Tisha B’av is observed on Motzei Shabbos. There are a number of unique laws: 

There are differing opinions about learning Torah after midday. Ideally one should study sections that relate to the laws of Tisha B’av or the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. Better to rely on those who allow all forms of learning than not learning at all. 

The regular seudas hamafsekes that is eaten before Tisha B’av (eating an egg etc.) does not take place. Rather, one may eat regular Shabbos food until the fast begins. One may eat Shalosh Seudos together with friends and family if this is what they normally do. 

The fast begins at sunset. In Baltimore this year, 2022, sunset is at 8:13 PM. 

All the other restrictions begin at nightfall. 

One says the blessing on the candle after Shabbos. 

The rest of Havdalah is not made until Sunday night after the fast. One who davens maariv should add ata chanantanu and one who does not should say, Baruch Hamavdil. 

Havdalah on Sunday night consists of the bracha on the grape juice/ wine and the final bracha. 

If one needs to break the fast they should first make Havdalah. However, instead of grape juice or wine, it should be said with orange juice or coffee.