Sunday, March 24, 2019

For Want of an Asterisk, Shiloh Celebrates Two Days of Purim

Before I get started, I want to thank my husband for doing some of the research for this.

There are a number of places here in the HolyLand where Purim is a two day holiday. Many of them are neighborhoods in modern day Jerusalem, which are distant from the Old Walled City. In those cases, it's perfectly understandable that their status is questionable. But for many of the other locations where Purim is celebrated both days, especially Shiloh, it really makes no sense.

As I understand it, the basic criteria for celebrating Shushan Purim, the day after regular Purim is this Mishnah, the requirement that the city had a wall at the time of Joshua.
Sefaria, Mishnah Megillah 1

מְגִלָּה נִקְרֵאת בְּאַחַד עָשָׂר, בִּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר, בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה עָשָׂר, בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר, בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר, לֹא פָחוֹת וְלֹא יוֹתֵר. כְּרַכִּין הַמֻּקָּפִין חוֹמָה מִימוֹת יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן נוּן, קוֹרִין בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר. כְּפָרִים וַעֲיָרוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת, קוֹרִין בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַכְּפָרִים מַקְדִּימִין לְיוֹם הַכְּנִיסָה:

The Megillah [Scroll of Esther] is read on the eleventh, on the twelfth, on the thirteenth, on the fourteenth, [or] on the fifteenth [of Adar], not earlier and not later. Cities surrounded with walls from the days of Yehoshua son of Nun read it on the fifteenth [of Adar]. Villages and large cities read it on the fourteenth, but villages read in advance on the day of assembly.
Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Biblical Shiloh, the Canaanite Wall

Shiloh Hakeduma, Ancient Biblical Shiloh, the Canaanite Wall
According to those criteria, Shiloh fits the bill perfectly. Sections of that wall exist even today, as you can see in the above photos. This is the Shiloh, agreed by both Biblical and archeological scholars, where Joshua brought the Tabernacle.

Nu, so what's the problem? The Mishnah also lists a number of cities where Jews are to celebrate Purim the second day, and Shiloh, for some reason, isn't in that list. It's presumed that at that very time the Mishnah was written, there wasn't much of a Jewish community living in Shiloh. But that isn't a requirement according to the actual Mishnah, unless I'm mistaken.
Joshua 18

וַיִּקָּ֨הֲל֜וּ כָּל־עֲדַ֤ת בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ שִׁלֹ֔ה וַיַּשְׁכִּ֥ינוּ שָׁ֖ם אֶת־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָאָ֥רֶץ נִכְבְּשָׁ֖ה לִפְנֵיהֶֽם׃

The whole community of the Israelite people assembled at Shiloh, and set up the Tent of Meeting there. The land was now under their control;
Today over forty 40 years since we, the Jewish People and State of Israel have returned to Shiloh, we're stuck in a strange halachic situation. We live a short walk from the wall which dates to the time of Joshua, but we're not among the cities celebrating Purim on the 15th of Adar. On the 14th of Adar we celebrate Purim with a bracha and Al Hanisim, but because we know that Shiloh existed as a walled Jewish city at the time of Joshua, we celebrate the holiday sans bracha on the the following day.

The listing in the mishnah of cities that should celebrate Shushan Purim should have included an asterisk*, with the following note:
"*plus any walled cities in the Land of Israel we may have left out"
Photos from each of the four readings of  Megillat Esther, Purim 5779, the fourth being my walk home.


Mr. Cohen said...

Refuting the Fans of Vashti:

Mr. Cohen said...



Many Jews know that The New York Times hates Israel,
but few Jews know that The New York Times also
hates traditional Judaism, as proven by these articles:

On 2018 December 2, The New York Times published
the article “The Hypocrisy of Hanukkah” by Michael
David Lukas, which describes Hanukkah as:

“an eight-night celebration of religious fundamentalism and violence.”

SOURCE: The New York Times and Hanukkah
by Jerold Auerbach, 2018 December 4

Batya said...

Not exactly on topic, but close.