Purim as Divrei Kabbala

  • Rav Doniel Schreiber
Purim: A Halakhic Overview - Part I
Divrei Kabbala 


The holiday of Purim entails a curious mixture of prayer and parody, law and levity. The scrupulous manner in which we perform Purim's mitzvot ha-yom contrasts sharply with the lively and boisterous atmosphere of the day. Yet, explains the Rav zt"l,(2) Maran Rabbi Joseph B. HaLevi Soloveitchik, this is precisely the point of Purim. It is a day which recognizes both man's salvation and his vulnerability. Our redemption from doom merits song and praise, gaiety and celebration. However, prayer, petition, and faithful shemirat ha-mitzvot, are also in order, as events and circumstances can change all too quickly. Man, with all his success, is painfully aware that he cannot master his own fate. Thus, Purim is a reflection of the human experience.

This dialectical idea in Purim is not merely an aberration, a peculiar quirk in the character of the day. On the contrary, Purim's penchant for duality appears to be rooted in its origins. Let us, therefore, discuss Purim's distinctive status in the manifold world of halakha.


I. The Spectrum of Halakha

In the gamut of Jewish observance we find vastly different forms of ritual.(3) Situated on one end of the spectrum are mitzvot d'oraita, those laws ordained by the Torah. They command the most fastidious observance, and generally cannot be overridden by any competing considerations. On the other hand, the most informal and lenient type of observances are minhagim. For example, they do not require a bracha and do not incur any punishment of lashes.(4) Located at the center of the spectrum are mitzvot d'rabanan, rabbinical legislation. They are stricter and more formalized than minhagim, but are more lenient than Biblical law. They require brachot, and have a ma'ase (action) and kiyum mitzva (fulfillment of the mitzva), similar to mitzvot d'oraita. Unlike Biblical law, however, they do not require kavana, intent,(5) and in a case of doubt they are treated leniently.(6)

It is possible, though, that subtler and more heterogeneous categories may also exist in the halakhic system. For instance, somewhere on the continuum between minhagim and rabbinic law we find the idea of minhag she-nitkan ke-mitzva. This classification, conceived of by R' Yitzchak Zev ha'Levi Soloveitchik zt"l,(7) assigns a formalized status to certain minhagim, and treats them similarly to legislated rabbinic law. Do similar concepts appear elsewhere on the halakhic spectrum? For example, is there a parallel median category located between Biblical and rabbinical law?


II. Divrei Kabbala Ke-divrei Torah Damu

Two relevant sources, in articulating conflicting messages, provide a foundation for discussion. First, Gemara Rosh Hashana(8) teaches that it is unnecessary to bolster the divrei kabbala prohibition of fasting on the third of Tishrei(9) through forbidding fasting on the second and fourth days of Tishrei, just as there is no need to bolster the d'orayta prohibition of fasting on Rosh Chodesh. This is so, says the gemara, because "divrei kabbala ke-divrei Torah damu;" divrei kabbala are treated like Biblical law, and therefore do not need chizuk,(10) reinforcement. Clearly, divrei kabbala are treated differently than that of classic rabbinic law. The gemara does not explicate, however, to what extent, and in what detail, we treat divrei kabbala like divrei Torah.

At the very least, it is obvious that divrei kabbala are not identical to divrei Torah. This is because Gemara Chaggiga(11) teaches: "We do not learn divrei Torah from divrei kabbala." Moreover, this second source, in driving a wedge between divrei Torah and divrei kabbala, aggravates the tension between them, and calls into question their entire relationship. This strain is magnified by the fact that divrei kabbala do not incur punishments of malkut (lashes),(12) nor obligations to offer sacrifices, whereas divrei Torah do.

We must ask, then, two related, questions. First, what category of law do divrei kabbala belong to? Are divrei kabbala a lenient form of divrei Torah,(13) or, conversely, are divrei kabbala a more stringent category of rabbinic law? A third possibility to consider is that divrei kabbala are a unique and independent cast of law, which occasionally expresses stringencies akin to Biblical law, and other times leniencies similar to rabbinical law.

Second, with regard to what details do we treat divrei kabbala like divrei Torah? Is the principle of "divrei kabbala ke-divrei Torah damu" limited merely to "chizuk," i.e. reinforcement, or does it carry broader halakhic implications? The more extensive the impact, the more likely that divrei kabbala are a form of divrei Torah. Similarly, the less divrei kabbala express elements of divrei Torah, the more probable it is that divrei kabbala are merely a stricter form of rabbinic law.

To clarify the extent of the gemara's analogy between divrei kabbala and divrei Torah, and the exact halakhic expression of divrei kabbala, it is necessary to conduct an extensive examination of all the various cases of divrei kabbala. The evidence which emerges from such an investigation will help form a sharper picture and a more accurate classification of this enigmatic idea. As merely a step in this direction, let us investigate divrei kabbala through the lens of Purim.


III. Purim and Divrei Kabbala

1. Definition of Divrei Kabbala

What precisely qualifies as divrei kabbala? Mishna Ta'anit,(14) Gemara Sota,(15) and other sources(16) cite verses from Nakh and label them "kabbala." Thus, Rashi(17) explains that verses from Nakh are considered "divrei kabbala." If so, the source for the holiday, which is located in Nakh,(18) should also qualify Purim as divrei kabbala.

Yet, in contrast to Rashi's broad interpretation of divrei kabbala, Ran(19) cites a Yerushalmi which might limit divrei kabbala to specifically Sifrei Nakh written through the medium of Nevua, prophecy. This would exclude Purim from the category of divrei kabbala since Megillat Esther was written merely through ruach ha-kodesh, divine inspiration, and not by prophecy.(20) Such an approach would presumably place divrei kabbala in a category above rabbinic law.

Nonetheless, a majority of Rishonim(21) accept the broad understanding of divrei kabbala which includes all halakhot found in Nakh. Accordingly, the holiday of Purim is considered divrei kabbala le-halakha (on a practical level).(22) The nature of divrei kabbala, however, is, as of yet, open and unresolved.

Since Purim is considered divrei kabbala, we will examine its halakhot in order to better understand the character of divrei kabbala. First, we must determine which laws of Purim are divrei kabbala. Megillat Esther(23) lists four halakhot of Purim: "They should make them days of feasting (mishteh) and joy (simcha), and of sending portions one to another (mishloach manot), and gifts to the poor (matanot le-evyonim)." The fifth requirement on Purim, mikra megilla, although conspicuously absent from the plain reading of Megillat Esther, is derived by Gemara Megilla(24) from the verse in Esther(25) : "And these days should be remembered (nizkarim) and kept". Zechira, remembrance, is defined as the vehicle of mikra megilla. Thus, five requirements on Purim emerge as divrei kabbala: seudat Purim, simchat Purim, mishloach manot, matanot le-evyonim, and mikra megilla.(26)

2. Birkat Shehechiyanu

Even within mikra megilla, however, there exists an ambiguity. Gemara Megilla(27) states: "A person is obligated to read the megilla at night and again during the day." Are both of these readings obligatory on the divrei kabbala level, or is perhaps one of them merely a rabbinic requirement? This question provides an opportunity for insight into the relationship between divrei kabbala and rabbinic law.

An obvious litmus test to confirm a difference, or the lack thereof, in the obligations of the night and day readings is the berakhaof shehechiyanu. We recite this blessing when we perform a mitzva for the first time in a given year.(28) Therefore, shehechiyanu is said when we read the megilla on the night of Purim.(29) Ought we say shehechiyanu a second time when we read Megillat Esther again during the day? If the shehechiyanu must be repeated, this would indicate that the daytime reading is a different and more elevated obligation than that of the night time; it is a new mitzva, so too speak. If the shehechiyanu need not be repeated, then this would suggest that there is no difference in their chiyuvim, or that the differences are not acute enough to justify defining the two readings as two separate mitzvot.

Tosafot(30) rule that we recite shehechiyanu again for the daytime reading. This is so, explain Tosafot, since the primary reading of the megilla is in the daytime. However, Rambam(31) rules that we do not repeat the shehechiyanu the next day. Achronim explain this dispute as follows: According to Tosafot, mikra megilla at night is only a rabbinical requirement, whereas mikra megilla in the daytime - the primary kria - is required at the level of divrei kabbala.(32) In contrast, Rambam understands that both readings are mi-divrei kabbala, and since they are both the same level of chiyuv (obligation), there is no new mitzva upon which to repeat the shehechiyanu.(33)

According to this approach, Tosafot and Rambam both agree that divrei kabbala and rabbinic law are different enough categories to be considered two distinct mitzvot and require two birkot shehechiyanu. Their only point of contention is whether the two kriot of Megillat Esther stem from different levels of chiyuv, or whether they are both mi-divrei kabbala. This evidence fundamentally and qualitatively divides divrei kabbala from rabbinic law. It does not provide, however, any revelations with regard to divrei kabbala's association with Biblical law.

3. Af Hen Ha'yu Be-oto Ha-nes

In contrast, there is evidence which may point to an affiliation between divrei kabbala and rabbinic law. The Gemara Megilla(34) states that women are obligated in mikra megilla "she-af hen ha'yu be-oto ha-nes."(35) Rishonim, however, dispute the scope of this principle. According to one opinion of Tosafot,(36) "af hen" can only be applied to mitzvot d'rabanan, and not to mitzvot d'oraita. The necessary implication of this opinion is that since the gemara does apply "af hen" to the mitzva mi-divrei kabbala of mikra megilla, divrei kabbala is in fact a category of mitzvot d'rabanan.(37)

However, a second opinion of Tosafot(38) rules that "af hen" may be applied to mitzvot d'oraita as well. Accordingly, no inference may drawn from the gemara's application of "af hen" to mikra megilla. However, one may speculate that the latter opinion of Tosafot was motivated to extend "af hen" to mitzvot d'oraita precisely because mikra megilla is mi-divrei kabbala. This would define divrei kabbala as a lenient form of d'oraita law.

No evidence has been presented, however, which would place divrei kabbala as a cast of law unto itself. In fact, Rishonim never once mention the term "divrei kabbala" in their discussion of "af hen ha'yu be-oto ha-nes." This would indicate that they perceive divrei kabbala as either a form of rabbinic or Biblical law, but not as an independent category.

4. Conflict with Dinei Torah

An additional test of divrei kabbala's character is how it behaves in conflict with dinei Torah. For instance, there is an opinion in Rishonim(39) that an onen (one who has lost a close relative whose body has not yet been buried) may eat meat and drink wine on Purim since a positive commandment pertaining to an individual - aveilut (mourning) - cannot override a mitzvat aseh pertaining to the public - simchat Purim. They assert that rejoicing on Purim is indeed treated as an positive commandment, since divrei kabbala ke-divrei Torah damu. In fact, this ruling and phraseology is accepted as law.(40) Clearly, allowing Purim to compete with, and to override, divrei Torah, and to refer to Purim as a positive commandment - a most striking appellation - pulls divrei kabbala into the purview of divrei Torah.

In a different case of conflict between megilla and divrei Torah, however, there is a dispute amongst halakhic decisors. Some Rishonim and later Poskim(41) rule that while we interrupt avoda in the Beit Ha-mikdash to hear mikra megilla b'tzibbur (public reading of the Megilla),(42) that is only if the avoda can be completed afterwards. However, if the avoda cannot be subsequently accomplished, we do not nullify avoda d'oraita for megilla d'rabanan.(43) This wording clearly defines divrei kabbala as rabbinic law. Moreover, this ruling does not assign additional validity to divrei kabbala that would allow it to compete with divrei Torah.

Taz(44) and Biur ha'Gra(45) vehemently assert that mikra megilla does completely override avoda be-mikdash and other mitzvot d'oraita, just as it uproots talmud Torah,(46) because "divrei kabbala ke-divrei Torah damu." Moreover, argues Taz, this seems to be the ruling of Rambam and Shulchan Arukh, for they state without qualification: "We nullify talmud Torah in order to hear mikra megilla; and this is certainly the case with regard to other mitzvot d'oraita, that they are overridden due to mikra megilla." This is yet a further example of divrei kabbala's Biblical traits.

5. Chumrat Ha-din

Another yardstick for determining the status of divrei kabbala is whether we generally treat it stringently or leniently.(47) For example, how does divrei kabbala respond in cases of "safek" (doubt)?

A. Safek

Generally, we rule safek d'oraita le-chumra and safek d'rabanan l'e-kula; we are stringent with regard to uncertainties in Biblical law, and lenient with doubts concerning rabbinic law. Do we rule stringently or leniently with respect to such doubts in the laws of Purim?(48)

a. Safek Mukefet Choma Me-yemot Yehoshua ben Nun(49)

Mishna Megilla(50) states that "large cities" read Megillat Esther on the fourteenth of Adar, and "walled city from the times of Yehoshua ben Nun" read the megilla on the fifteenth of Adar. According to Gemara Megilla,(51) those who were in doubt about the status of Tiveria and Hutzal, i.e. whether they are defined as a "walled city from the times of Yehoshua ben Nun" or not, read Megillat Esther both on the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar.

On the surface, this course of action would seem to be a function of the general rule, safek le-chumra, which we apply to Biblical law. If so, this is a prime example of divrei kabbala responding as a d'oraita law. The Geonim(52) explain, however, that the practice of reading Megillat Esther in Tiveria and Hutzal on both days was not an halakhic ruling, but rather a midat chassidut - it was a pious act, not a normative one. In fact, argue these Geonim, this is a case of safek d'rabanan, and the normative ruling is to be lenient. These Geonim clearly place divrei kabbala in the category of rabbinic law.

Yet, Rambam, Tur, and Shulchan Arukh all write that such cities must read the megilla on both days. These decisors, clearly, do not understand the gemara's presentation as referring to mere midat chassidut. It is expressing, rather, normative demands upon such cities in doubt as to their status. This ruling, apparently, is an expression of the general rule "safek d'orayta le-chumra," and is yet another instance of the d'oraita dimension of divrei kabbala. Indeed, Turei Even(53) articulates this idea outright, explaining that since "divrei kabbala ke-divrei Torah damu," in a case of doubt we must be as stringent as we are with regard to divrei Torah.(54) Moreover, writes Turei Even, it is perfectly sensible to treat them similarly, as both divrei Torah and divrei kabbala are utterances of the Master of the World.

b. Sefeika Deyoma

A similar situation of safek regarding mikra megilla occurs in the Diaspora due to a sefeika deyoma. Why do we not celebrate a second day of Purim in the Diaspora like we do for Pesach, Shavuot, and Succot? Why is there no obligation to read on the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Adar in chutz la-aretz if theris a doubt as to the correct date of the month?

One answer could be that Purim is treated like a rabbinical ordinance, in which case we say safek d'rabanan le-kula. Mordechai(55) provides a different response. He writes that one cannot, out of doubt, read Megillat Esther on a date following the fourteenth since Megillat Esther states: "ve-lo ya'avor," one is forbidden to read the megilla past the proper date. Since it is possible that one truly read Megillat Esther on the proper day, i.e. the fourteenth of Adar, we do not read again the next day as this would be running the risk of violating "ve-lo ya'avor." The implication is that were it not for "ve-lo ya'avor," one would be obligated to rule strictly and read the megilla on the fifteenth as well. This might be another example of safek divrei kabbala le-chumra.

However, it is also possible that Mordechai would rule stringently for a different reason, and not because safek divrei kabbala le-chumra. Avudraham(56) indicates that even with regard to classic rabbinical laws, we rule stringently in a sefeika deyoma. Avudraham asks why we do not celebrate nine days of Chanukah in the Diaspora. He answers that this is so because we know the proper dates. Clearly, then, were we unsure of the date, Avudraham would rule stringently, obligating us to celebrate a ninth day of Chanukah. In fact, Minchat Chinukh(57) rules that in the future, when we will again sanctify the months through the testimony of witnesses, places which have a sefeika deyoma will certainly celebrate nine days of Chanukah, as they did in the past!


B. Can a Chiyuv D'rabanan Motzi a Chiyuv Mi-divrei Kabbala?

Another litmus test for determining divrei kabbala's status is whether someone who is obligated in a mitzva me-d'rabanan can motzi (fulfill the commandment on behalf of another) one who is obligated mi-divrei kabbala. This case is represented in a dispute between modern halakhic decisors. In Hilkhot Chanukah,(58) Shulchan Arukh rules that a minor cannot be motzi an adult in his obligation of lighting Chanukah candles, but he afterwards adds that according to some opinions he can motzi an adult.(59) However, in Hilkhot Megilla,(60) Shulchan Arukh simply states that a minor cannot motzi an adult for mikra megilla. This is, presumably, since a minor, is a trei d'rabanan, and a trei d'rabanan cannot be motzi a chad d'rabanan.(61)

Magen Avraham(62) notes a discrepancy between Shulchan Arukh's formulation in these two laws. Why does Shulchan Arukh give credence to the opinion that a minor can motzi an adult in the mitzva of lighting Chanukah candles, if he does not similarly cite that opinion for mikra megilla?(63) Magen Avraham comments that this is indeed problematic as "it is difficult to distinguish between mikra megilla and ner Chanukah."(64) Magen Avraham, thus, clearly considers mikra megilla, i.e. divrei kabbala, to be a form of rabbinic law, no different in level than the mitzva d'rabanan of ner Chanukah.

Pri Migadim(65) offers an explanation for the difficulty in Shulchan Arukh. He asserts that since lighting Chanukah candles is merely rabbinic, Shulchan Arukh is justified in also quoting the opinion that a minor can motzi an adult. After all, both the minor and the adult are obligated on a rabbinic level, and perhaps the fact that a minor is trei d'rabanan is of no concern. However, writes Pri Migadim, mikra megilla is mi-divrei kabbala. It is, therefore, impossible for a minor, whose obligation is only d'rabanan, to motzi an adult who is obligated at the higher level of divrei kabbala.

This idea is similarly expressed by Turei Even(66) with regard to whether or not a woman can motzi a man in mikra megilla. Behag(67) rules that women cannot motzi men for mikra megilla. Turei Even explains that this is so because a woman's obligation to read the megilla is me-d'rabanan(68) while men are obligated mi-divrei kabbala, and a chiyuv d'rabanan cannot motzi a chiyuv mi-divrei kabbala.

Pri Migadim and Turei Even evidently understand that divrei kabbala is on a different plane than dinei d'rabanan. It is unclear, however, whether they consider divrei kabbala to be a more lenient form of Biblical law, or an independent category.


IV. Divrei Kabbala and Double Identity

In sum, it is apparent that Purim, which is mi-divrei kabbala, has some elements and features akin to divrei Torah. However, the precise character of divrei kabbala is not at all a simple matter. Even at best, divrei kabbala cannot be considered an unalloyed category. While commentators and decisors argue about emphases, nonetheless, all agree it is still a hybrid - a diversified mix of Torah and rabbinic law. The issues of shehechiyanu, safek, af hen, discharging another's obligation, and competition with other mitzvot d'oraita, by revealing two distinct schools of thought, all seem to underscore the tension and dissonance that exist within divrei kabbala. Can a reconciliation exist?

The Rav zt"l proposed the following explanation.(69) While the category of divrei kabbala is undeniably heterogeneous, it also, nonetheless, has an inner logic. The fact that halakhot or ideas are found in any part of Torah, Nevi'im, or Ketuvim, confer upon them the special status of "cheftza shel Torah she-b'ketav," i.e. they are halakhically considered "The Written Law." Thus, for example, if one were to burn Megillat Esther, he would violate the Torah prohibition of "You shall not do so unto the Lord your God."(70) Megillat Esther has the same kedusha as other verses in the Torah, since they are both literary expressions of Divine Will. However, at the same time, if one would avoid reading the megilla, he will have violated only a mitzva d'rabanan. While this may appear incongruous, it does not change the fact that this is how divrei kabbala functions.

If so, it is possible that all the disputes with regard to "divrei kabbala" may in fact be how to interpret Purim's "cheftza shel Torah" status. Does this status transform Purim into a new mitzva - one that would require a shehechiyanu? Do we apply "af hen ha'yu be-oto ha-nes" to such a status? Is one who is obligated mi-divrei kabbala considered on a higher level of obligation than a one who is obligated mi-d'rabanan? Can Purim compete with other mitzvot d'oraita? Thus, instead of divrei kabbala being some indiscriminate cross between divrei Torah and rabbinic law, it is emerges, rather, as a Torah-ordained statute which generates a rabbinical obligation.

Purim, then, is much more than a rabbinical holiday. It is a day which is rooted and fostered in a Torah she-be-ketav environment. This, of course, is not a result of merely being located in Tanakh. It reflects the fact that Purim is the word of the Living God, and that as we accomplish the mitzvat ha-yom, we fulfill not merely Divine Will, but Divine Law.



1. This article will focus primarily on the divrei kabbala status of Purim. Further aspects of Purim will be discussed be-ezrat Hashem in the next Shevat-Adar edition of Alei Etzion.

2. Shiurei HaRav, edited by Joseph Epstein, Ktav Publishing House, 1994, pp.175-180.

3. For a more comprehensive overview of the range of halakhot, see Pri Migadim, General Introduction to Orach Chaim, part I.

4. See Pri Migadim, General Introduction to Orach Chaim, 1:41. This of course does not mean one may treat minhagim cavalierly. Minhagim demand careful observance, and a violation of them may actually engender a severe issur d'oraita. See Teshuvot Chatam Sofer, Yora Dea, siman 107. See also, however, Yam Shel Shlomo, Chulin, chap. 1, siman 36, and Rav Avraham Isaac Kook's Teshuvot Da'at Kohen, siman 18, p. 49, and siman 84, p. 189, who have a moderated approach to minhagim.

5. Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim, 60:3. See also Pri Migadim, General Introduction to Orach Chaim, 1:32.

6. See Encyclopedia Talmudit, "Issur d'Rabanan", for a more expanded list of leniencies. This does not mean, however, that one may be lax in his observance of dinei d'rabanan. According to Gemara Eruvin 21b, one must be more scrupulous in performing mitzvot d'rabanan than mitzvot d'oraita.

7. Griz al ha'Rambam, Hilkhot Berakhot 11:16. See also Beit Yit, 1993, vol. 25, pp. 20-21, for Maran Ha'Rav Joseph B. ha'Levi Soloveitchik's more developed formulation.

8. Rosh Hashana 19a.

9. I.e. Tzom Gedalia, which in the time of the Beit Ha-mikdash was a day of feasting.

10. See Ran (Ta'anit 7a in the pages of the Rif) who suggests that according to the Talmud Yerushalmi 2:12 divrei kabbala do need chizuk. According to this approach, one would be hardpressed to establish a relationship between divrei kabbala and divrei Torah.

11. Chaggiga 10b.

12. See Pri Migadim, General Introduction to Orach Chaim 1:18, that there is, however, makot mardut. See also Yerushalmi Yevamot 2:6, and Rashi, Sanhedrin 84a, s.v. lo yavo.

13. According to this approach, all that which is revealed by God, whether in Torah she-b'ktav, Torah she-be'al peh, nevua, or ruach ha-kodesh, has the status of Biblical law. It is just that some forms of Biblical law express certain leniencies whereas other forms do not.

14. Ta'anit 15a.

15. Sota 37a.

16. See Encyclopedia Talmudit, "Divrei Kabbala", p. 106 for an expanded listing of sources.

17. Bava Kama 2b, s.v. Divrei kabbala.

18. See Megillat Esther, Chap. 9. See also Gemara Megilla 5b and 7a.

19. Ta'anit 7a in the pages of the Rif. Ran, however, suggests that it is also entirely possible the Yerushalmi agrees that Purim is divrei kabbala, but disputes the position that divrei kabbala do not need chizuk.

20. Megilla 7a.

21. Ba'al Ha'Maor (Megilla 4a in the pages of the Rif), Ran ibid., Rosh (Ta'anit 2:24), Mordechai (Megilla 1: 776). In fact, according to these Rishonim, the reason why we may fast Ta'anit Esther the day before Purim is because Purim is divrei kabbala, and does not need chizuk to prevent one from fasting on Purim itself.

22 Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 696:7, and Taz ibid. 687 note 2.

23. Esther 9:22.

24. Megilla 2b.

25. Esther 9:28.

26. It is possible, however, that while Purim is mi-divrei kabbala, mikra megilla may merely be mi-d'rabanan. This is so since according to Rashi (Ta'anit 15a, s.v. kabbala) only that which is stated in Nakh in the form of a command qualifies as divrei kabbala. Thus, since mikra megilla is not "commanded" to us by Nakh, but rather is presented in the form of "sippur," a story, it may merely be a mitzva d'rabanan. See Teshuvot Dovev Meisharim, by R. Dov Baersh Weidenfeld, the Tchebiner Rav, Vol. 1, siman 15. To be sure, it is questionable whether Rashi is the author of the Rashi commentary found in our editions of Ta'anit. Moreover, compare this idea with Ramban, Ha'sagot Le-sefer Ha-mitzvot, in the latter section of Shoresh 2, that a command found in Nakh has the status of actual devar Torah.

27. Megilla 4a.

28. Rambam, Hilkhot Berakhot 11:9.

29. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim, 692:1.

30. Megilla 4a, s.v. chayev.

31. Hilkhot Megilla 1:3.

32. See, for example, Turei Even (Megilla 4a) and Noda b'Yehuda (siman 41, mahadura kama).

33. See Mishnat Ya'avetz by R' Bezalel Zolti, Orach Chaim, 77:2.

34. Megilla 4a.

35. Although generally woman are exempt from mitzvot aseh she-ha'zman grama, they are nonetheless obligated in some time-bound mitzvot since "af hen hayu be-oto ha-nes," i.e. they too were included in the miracle. For an elaboration on this topic, see this author's article in Alei Etzion, vol. 5, "The Seder Night: A Halakhic Overview, part II", pp. 29-33.

36. Pesachim 108b, s.v. ha'yu.

37. One might possibly diffuse this proof by suggesting that, however unlikely, this opinion of Tosafot limits divrei kabbala to nevua in accordance with the Yerushalmi quoted by the Ran above. Thus, Purim is merely d'rabanan and one cannot extrapolate from it the nature of divrei kabbala. Another unlikely response is that Tosafot was merely eliminating "af hen" from mitzvot d'oraita, but not necessarily limiting "af hen" to mitzvot d'rabanan. Thus, perhaps, divrei kabbala is an independent category, and, as a non-d'oraita, qualifies for the application of "af hen."

38. Megilla 4a, s.v. she'af.

39. Orchot Chaim, Megilla siman 39.

40. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 696:7.

41. See Ran, Megilla 2b in the pages of the Rif, s.v. yisrael be-ma'amadan; Tosafot Megilla 3a, s.v. mevatlin; Beit Yosef, siman 687, and Rema, Orach Chaim 687:2. See also Teshuvot Chavat Yair, simanim 8-11.

42. Megilla 3a.

43. While "megilla d'rabanan" is the exact phrase of Ran, it is also apparently the intent of Rema.

44. Orach Chaim, 687:2. See also Turei Even, Megilla 3a.

45. Ibid. Biur ha'Gra, in fact, quotes Ran, and comments: "His words are cause for wonder."

46. Megilla 3a.

47. There are numerous implications to this question. For instance, is it necessary to determine whether a bar-mitzva boy, who wishes to read the megilla for the congregation, has reached physical maturity? For dinei d'rabanan we rely on chazaka d'Rava that he has reached physical maturity (Bava Batra 155a-b. See also Rema, Orach Chaim 55:5 and 199:10, who allows him to join a minyan and mezuman.). However, with regard to dinei Torah, e.g. chalitza, the gemara ibid. rules we cannot rely on this chazaka (see Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim, siman 199, note 7). Can we rely on chazaka d'Rava in cases of divrei kabbala, such as mikra megilla?

Another example which hinges on this question is can we rely on the chazaka that shaliach oseh shlichuto, i.e. an agent will carry out his agency (Eruvin 31b), for mishloach manot? Mishna Berura (siman 695, note 18) cites Binyan Zion who suggests that perhaps one can only fulfill sending mishloach manot through an agent, a shaliach. If so, must one check to see if his shaliach indeed fulfilled his shlichut of mishloach manot? For dinei d'rabanan, we do rely on chazaka shaliach oseh shlichuto, whereas for dinei Torah, this is a debate among the Rishonim. What would be the law for divrei kabbala, such as mishloach manot?

A final example which may depend on the character of divrei kabbala is whether we encounter the problem of "ein osin mitzvot chavilot chavilot" (see Pesachim 102b) in sending mishloach manot. Rambam (Shabbat 29:13) rules that this prohibition only applies to mitzvot d'oraita, but not to mitzvot d'rabanan. K'tav Sofer (Orach Chaim siman 139) thus queries whether one may send mishloach manot to an indigent person to thereby fulfill mishloach manot and matanot le-evyonim with one act. Is this a violation of "ein osin mitzvot chavilot chavilot"? He asserts that the answer hinges on the character of divrei kabbala.

48. This question concerned the Pri Migadim (Mishbetzot Zahav, Orach Chaim 687:1) in his discussion of whether or not one fulfills reading Megillat Esther during bein ha-shemashot (twilight). Shulchan Arukh (ibid. 692:4) rules that in pressing circumstances one may fulfill reading Megillat Esther from plag ha-mincha (one and one-quarter of a halakhic hour before sundown). Pri Chadash disputes this, asserting that Megillat Esther must be read specifically at night. Pri Migadim discusses whether according to Pri Chadash one fulfills reading the megilla during bein ha-shemashot, which is safek yom safek layla (in doubt whether it is considered to be night or day). In a case of safek divrei kabbala, do we rule stringently, that one has not fulfilled his obligation, or leniently, that one has done so?

49. See Pri Migadim, General Introduction to Orach Chaim, 1:18.

50. Megilla 2b.

51. Megilla 5b.

52. Cited in Ran, Megilla 2a in the pages of the Rif. See also Ramban, Rashba, and Ritva, ad loc.

53. Megilla 5b.

54. This also seems to be the opinion of Pri Migadim, General Introduction to Orach Chaim, 1:41.

55. Gemara Megilla, siman 775.

56. Hilkhot Chanukah.

57. Mitzva 305.

58. Orach Chaim 675:3.

59. See Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim, siman 689 note 4, who implies that Shulchan Aruch rules in accordance with the second opinion. However, Pri Migadim, in his Machtzit ha'Shekel ibid., notes that Magen Avraham did not mean this, but rather was emphasizing the difference between Shulchan Arukh's formulation in Hilkhot Chanukah and in Hilkhot Megilla. According to Machtzit ha'Shekel, in general, the first opinion cites by Shulchan Arukh is his true ruling.

60. Orach Chaim 689:2.

61. That is, since a minor is obligated to fulfill mikra megilla which is a rabbinic din, and he is concomitantly rabbinically obligated to fulfill mikra megilla mi-din chinukh, for educational purposes, his obligation is considered weaker and at a lower level than that of an adult who is rabbinically obligated in mikra megilla at the primary level. See Machtzit ha'Shekel ibid. note 4, and Tosafot Megilla 19b, s.v. ve-rebbe Yehuda.

Interestingly, Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim, siman 186, note 3) rules that a minor who eats a ke-zayit of bread can be motzi an adult who ate a ke-zayit of bread, i.e. a trei d'rabanan can motzi a chad d'rabanan, against Tosafot Megilla 19b. However, Machtzit ha'Shekel explains that Magen Avraham only rules such when the trei d'rabanan could become a chad d'rabanan. Thus, since a minor could in theory eat k'dei se'via and become a chad d'rabanan, he, as a trei d'rabanan, can motzi an adult who only ate a ke-zayit. If, however, the trei d'rabanan could not become a chad d'rabanan, as in the case of a minor who wishes to light Chanukah candles or read the megilla, then Magen Avraham agrees that a trei d'rabanan cannot motzi a chad d'rabanan.

62. Orach Chaim, siman 689, note 4.

63. See Machtzit ha'Shekel, ibid.

64. Pri Migadim, in his Eshel Avraham, Orach Chaim 689:4, comments that Magen Avraham thought it was difficult to distinguish between mikra megilla and ner Chanukah by saying that in mikra megilla an adult is obligated to read the megilla whereas a minor must hear the megilla. The point of such a distinction would be that it is obvious that a minor cannot motzi an adult in mikra megilla and therefore no credence should be given to a contrary opinion. However, in ner Chanukah, where this is not as clear cut, Shulchan Arukh justly mentions an opposing opinion.

65. General Introduction to Orach Chaim 1:18.

66. Turei Even, Megilla 4a.

67. Tosafot Megilla, 4a, s.v. nashim.

68. This assumes that "af hen hayu be-oto ha-nes" can only generate a chiyuv d'rabanan.

69. Shiurim l'Zecher Abba Mari z"l, vol. 1, "Kavod Ve-oneg Shabbat," p. 52.

70. Devarim 12:4, and Rambam, Sefer Ha-mitzvot, mitzva 65 of the Negative Commandments.




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