Megillah, Chapter One, Mishnah Two

Introduction

This mishnah explains how depending on when Purim falls the Megillah might be read on the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth or fifteenth.  To explain the mishnah we need to remind ourselves that small villages would not read alone in their own village, but rather would move up, if necessary, the day of the reading so that it would fall on the same day as the day of gathering, the market and court day in the larger towns. As we shall see, this can lead to their reading the Megillah on the eleventh, twelfth or thirteenth.  The fourteenth and fifteenth are the days when the Megillah is normally read.

Mishnah Two

How so?

1)      If the fourteenth [of Adar] falls on Monday, the villages and large towns read on that day and the walled places on the next day.

2)      If it falls on Tuesday or on Wednesday, the villages move the reading up to the day of gathering, the large towns read on that day, and the walled places on the next day.

3)      If it falls on Thursday, the villages and large towns read on that day and the walled places on the next day.

4)      If it falls on Friday, the villages move the reading up to the day of gathering and the large towns and walled places read on that day.

5)      If it falls on Shabbat, the villages and large towns move the reading up to the day of gathering, and the walled places read on the next day.

6)      If it falls on Sunday, the villages move the reading up to the day of gathering, the large towns read on that day, and the walled cities on the day following.

Explanation

Section one:  The mishnah begins with the easiest situation.  Purim (the fourteenth of Adar) falls on the fourteenth, so everyone can read on that day except for those in walled cities who read on the fifteenth.

Section two:  If it falls on Tuesday, the people of the villages read on Monday (the 13th), the day of the gathering, and if it falls on Wednesday then they also move it up to the 12th, which is Monday.  Again, the people of the large towns read on the fourteenth and the people of the walled cities on the fifteenth.

Section three: If it falls on Thursday, again, everyone can read on that day except for those in walled cities who read on the fifteenth, on Friday.

Section four: If it falls on Friday, the villagers read on the Thursday the thirteenth, those from the large towns and even those from walled cities read on Friday, because the Megillah is not read on Shabbat.  The reason that the Megillah is not read on Shabbat is that it is possible to move it up to Friday, so there is no reason to disturb Shabbat.  The Talmud also explains that if they were allowed to read on Friday, they might end up carrying the Megillah through the public domain in order to get to synagogue.

Section five:  If it falls on Shabbat, everyone moves the reading up to Thursday.  Since it cant be read on Shabbat and it will therefore have to be moved up in any case, they move it up for the large towns all the way to Thursday so that they end up reading it on the same day as the villagers.

Section six:  Finally, if it falls on Sunday, the villagers move the reading up to Thursday, the 11th of Adar, the people from the large towns read on Sunday and those from walled towns read on Tuesday, the 15th.