However, R. Hanina’s statement is actually difficult to understand. If we wanted the villagers to be free to provide food for the city folk on the day of gathering, we should allow them to read before the day on which everyone else gathers. If Purim falls on Monday, they should read the previous Thursday. This way they can come into town and bring food to their brothers on Monday.
The problem is that this would mean they read on the tenth and the rabbis did not allow the reading of the Megillah on the tenth.
If we wanted the villagers to be free to provide food, then if Purim falls on Thursday, they should move it up to Monday for the villagers. This way they could bring food in to the cities on Thursday. Monday would be the 11th of Adar which is a potential day on which the Megillah can be read.
The answer is that we don’t move readings that should be on one day of gathering (Thursday) to another day of gathering. Note that we could have given this answer in the earlier part of the sugya as well.
Judah in the Mishnah says that in a place where the villagers don’t regularly come into the towns on Mondays and Thursdays, then everyone reads at the proper time. This causes a problem to the point of view that held that allowing the villagers to read on the day of gathering was a benefit to the townsfolk. If people dont gather on those days, why should the townsfolk lose the benefit? The villagers should still be told to read on the day of gathering specifically to encourage them to come in and bring food.
Therefore we emend slightly the original statement of R. Hanina. The sages were lenient on the villagers allowing them to read on the day of the gathering. If they do not come into the town, they themselves lose the leniency of reading earlier. But this leniency was not for the benefit townsfolk.
Today’s section continues to deal with the Mishnah.
In the beginning of the Mishnah it referred to the days by the date of the month—11th, 12th, 13th, 14th or 15th. Here later in the Mishnah it refers to them by day of the week, Monday, etc. Why, the Talmud asks, is there this change?
The reason is that the numbers would be harder to follow and would go backwards—if Purim falls on Tuesday, the villagers read on the thirteenth, if it falls on Wednesday, they read on the twelfth. If it falls on Friday, they read on the thirteenth. If it falls on Shabbat, they read on the thirteenth. If it falls on Sunday, they read on the 11th. The Mishnah was taught such that it would be easier to remember and that is in ascending not descending order.
The Mishnah says that if Purim falls on Friday, the villages read on Thursday and the towns and walled cities read on Friday. The Talmud notes that this follows Rabbi. According to the first opinion in this baraita, if Purim falls on Friday the towns and villagers read on Thursday and walled cities read on Friday (the 14th). Rabbi says that the towns should read on the proper day, on Friday, as do the people in the walled city (because they can’t read on Shabbat). This accords with the Mishnah.
The first opinion holds that towns move up to reading on the 13th so that the general procedure will be followed. Just as the towns usually read a day before the walled cities, so too this year they will read a day before the walled cities. This way we can preserve the implications of the verse “in every year.” “In every year” the towns read before the walled cities.
We could read “in every year” to mean that just as other years the towns do not have to move their day of reading, so too when Purim falls on Friday, they should not have to move their day of reading.
The problem with this is that it is not possible. It is not possible for the towns not to move their day of reading and to still read before the walled cities. Therefore, according to the first opinion, they do shift their reading to Thursday.
This section is basically the same as above, just with reverse reasoning.
In the end if Purim falls on Friday, something has to change. According to the first opinion, the most important thing is that the towns read on the day before the walled city. Therefore, the towns move up to Thursday and the walled cities read on Friday. According to Rabbi, it is more important that towns should not have to move their readings. Therefore, they read with the walled cities on Friday.
In today’s section we continue to discuss which tannaim agree with the Mishnah which ruled that if Purim falls on Friday, towns and walled cities read on Friday.
According to the first opinion, when Purim falls on Friday, the walled cities move their reading up from Shabbat (when the Megillah is never read) all the way to Thursday, the same day that the villagers read.
Yose objects that walled cities should never read before the towns. Therefore, they both read on Friday.
The first opinion holds that just as every year towns and walled cities have different days for reading, so too when Purim falls on Friday they should not read on the same day. To avoid reading on the same day, the walled cities move their reading to Thursday.
This is the same difficulty we read in yesterday’s section. If the goal is to maintain the same pattern as other years, why not say that just as in other years walled cities do not read before towns, so too here they do not read before towns?
The answer is the same as before. There is no way for this year to be exactly the same as other years. Something has to budge.
This section is just the mirror image of above.
The Talmud rejects the comparison. When Purim falls on Shabbat, the reading must be shifted. Once it is shifted, Rabbi says they shift it all the way to Thursday. But if the proper time is actually Friday, then Rabbi would say that we leave it on Friday.
According to R. Helbo, if Purim falls on Shabbat, all places read on Thursday, the day of gathering. However, this is an impossible reading of his statement, since walled cities can read on Sunday the 15th, the same day they always read.
Therefore, the Talmud emends the statement to say that anyone who shifts their reading, shifts it to Thursday. This means that towns and villages both read on Thursday. This accords with Rabbi’s statement above.
Today’s section deals with what happens when Purim falls on Shabbat.
According to Rabbah we do not read the Megillah on Shabbat lest one carry the scroll in the public domain which is prohibited on Shabbat. It is for this same reason that we do not perform the mitzvah of lulav on Shabbat, nor do we blow the shofar.
I should also note that it does seem like the sages wanted to avoid, to a certain extent, Shabbat turning into another holiday. If Purim was celebrated on Shabbat, it would really be Purim, and not feel like Shabbat. And since they held that the Megillah could be read on another day, there really was not a good reason not to move the reading of the Megillah.
Joseph says that the reason we don’t read Megillah on Shabbat is that when the poor hear the Megillah being read they get excited, anticipating receiving the gifts for the poor (matanot le’evyonim). If the Megillah were read on Shabbat, gifts for the poor could not be given out that day and they would be disappointed.
A baraita teaches a similar idea. When Purim falls on Shabbat they read the Megillah and collect and distribute gifts for the poor on the day that the Megillah is actually read. But the Purim feast (seudah) is done on Shabbat, the proper time. There is no reason why a Purim seudah should not occur on Shabbat.