Purim in Adam: the 14th or the 15th of Adar?

Living in modern day, continuously expanding State of Israel creates interesting practical questions in Jewish law.

Nine out of the twelve years that we have been married, the Miller Family has lived on the outskirts of Yerushalayim.  Places like Mevasseret Tzion, where we spent our first four years and Yishuv Adam present halachik questions regarding the observance of Purim.  Are these outer neighborhoods/yishuvim considered “part of Yerushalayim” (or close enough) that they keep Shushan Purim (the 15th of Adar) or are they external to Yerushalayim and therefore keep Purim on the 14th?

This is a complicated halachik discussion and my intention here is to present a brief sketch of this sugya in halacha and a bottom line psak as was decided by our local Orthodox Rabbi.

The first mishna in Megilla (2a) teaches that walled cities during the time of Yehoshua observe Shushan Purim.  The entire city of Yerushalayim, among the list of cities which had a wall during that period, observes Purim on the 15th.

The Gemara (2b and 3b) goes one step further to include villages which are either “next to” (סמוך) or “seen with” (נראה) the walled city, as part of the walled city in terms of observing Purim on the 15th.  The Gemara (2b) does give a limiting factor to the above inclusion.  The adjacent village must be within a distance of a mil (about 1 kilometer) from the walled city.

The Rishonim grapple with the following question.  Regarding this stipulation of the adjacent village being within a mil of the walled city, which case does it apply to?

There are three options:

  • The mil limitation applies only to villages which are סמוך“next to” the walled city.  The limitation does not apply to villages which are נראה “seen with” the walled city.  Meaning, if village is seen with the walled city but beyond the distance of a mil it would still be considered part of the “walled city area.”
  • The mil limitation applies only to villages which are נראה “seen with” the walled city. The limitation does not apply to villages which are סמוך “next to” the walled city.
  • The mil limitation applies to villages which are either סמוך “next to” and נראה “seen with” the walled city.

A majority of Rishonim, including Rash”i, Rabbenu Chananel, the Ritv”a in the name of his rabbis, the Meiri and Rabbenu Yerucham all opt for option #1.  The Beis Yosef explains that if the mil limitation would apply to נראה “seen with” as well, then נראה is not teaching us anything novel.  All the Gemara would have to teach us is “mil,” within a “mil” – 15th, outside of – 14th.  As a result, these Rishonim explain that villiage must be either סמוך“next to” (within a mil) or נראה  “seen with” even outside of a mil.

The simple reading of the Ramba”m and the Tur would indicate that they are explaining the Gemara according to either options #2 or #3.  The Rav HaMaggid on the Rambam and Beis Yoseh bring different  גירסאות (textual versions) and alternative ways of explaining the Rambam and the Tur to make them fit with a majority of Rishonim.  צע”ג

At this stage, based on the explanation of a majority of Rishonim and the psak of the Mishna Brurah (תרפח ס”ב, ס”ק ו), there would be strong basis for Adam to keep Shushan Purim.  Even if the Yishuv is outside of Yerushalayim beyond a kilometer, since it can be seen from outside the city (looking in from Beit El) as part of Yerushalayim it would be judged like the walled city – Yerushalayim.

However, the Ra”n, the Meir”I and the Ritv”a add an important condition which greatly impacts his discussion.  They teach that a village can only be considered as “seen with” the walled city if itמשתתף עמו בענינו “participates with the walled city in its matters.”  If Adam was included in the Yerushalayim eruv (as is Mevasseret) or the residents paid taxes to the Jerusalem municipality, than Adam would fulfill this criterion of משתתף עמו בענינו.  Adam has its own eruv and we pay taxes to the Binyamin Coucil.

Most modern day poskim rule that Yishuv Adam and its residents are meant to keep Purim on the 14th.  And for the first time, after years of uncertainty and confusion, the new rav of our community, Rav Yosef Asayag, conclusively decided that our community will be observing Purim on the 14th.

I must say it is a special zechut to be living at a time and in a place where questions of this nature involving Yerushalayim and its suburbs are practically relevant.  With a growing Yerushalayim, it also might be that in the near future this halachik question will have to be revisited.

Purim Samaach!!!

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