14-15 Adar Alef

Purim Katan (the "Little Purim") and Shushan Purim Katan

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In a leap year there are two months of Adar – Adar Alef (the First Adar) and Adar Bet (the Second Adar). When, if so, should we celebrate Purim?

The halachah follows the Talmudic opinion that Purim is celebrated in Adar II, for it is closest to the month of Nissan, and we want to “connect redemption to redemption”. That is, the redemption of Purim – to the redemption of the Pesach, which is in the month of Nissan (Megillah 6b).

Thus Purim and Shushan Purim are celebrated in Adar Bet. The 14th of Adar Alef is designated as Purim Katan – the “Little Purim”. The 15th of Adar Alef is Shushan Purim Katan.

“Tachnun” (“supplications”) and “Vidduy” are omitted from the daily prayers on this day.

There are no special observances associated with Purim Katan. However, Rabbi Moshe Isserles (Rema) notes that there are opinions that even the “Little Purim” should be marked by an increased joy. He adds that it is good to arrange a more plentiful meal than usual in the honour of Purim Katan.

From the Rebbe’s explanations:

– There’s a saying: “What is little, will be great” (“Ze katan gadol ihye”). In a similar vein, from this little Purim we shall come to the Great Purim [celebrated in Adar Bet]. Although the joy of the little Purim is not as great, it’s said: “Joy breaks through barriers” (“Simchah poretz geder”). And so all bnei Israel will merit to see the fulfillment of the promise: “When you raise the head of bnei Israel(“Shemot”, 30:13). So that HaShem will redeem them from all their limitations, in all areas of their lives… (“Igrot Kodesh”, v. 14, letter 5207).

 

From the history behind Purim

The battles fought between the Jews and their enemies throughout the Persian empire took place on 13 Adar. Around the world, the Jews rested and celebrated on the following day – 14 Adar. In the capital city of Shushan, however, the fighting continued for two days, 13 and 14 Adar. The victory celebrations in Shushan were thus held on the 15th of Adar.
When the holiday of Purim was set for the 14th of Adar, the Shushan resident observed Purim a day later, on the 15th of Adar. This day is hence known as “Shushan Purim.”

The sages instituted that along with Shushan, all cities that were walled at the time when the Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, entered the Land of Israel, observe Purim on the 15th of Adar.

Today, the only city that is known to have had walls in the times of Joshua (and thus celebrates Shushan Purim) is Jerusalem.

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