By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

Today is Purim Katan.  Purim Katan, which happens approximately every 2 years and 8 and a ½ months on average, occurs whenever there is an Adar Rishon.  Unfortunately, many people treat it as kind of afterthought.  There is a good argument that can be made, however,  that marking this day- is actually a Torah obligation!

But, before we get to Purim Katan – let’s get a little background:


Please help a Yesoma Kallah with no father get married!  Click here.


Rabbeinu Yechiel of Paris was one of the great Baalei HaTosfos from Northern France. He is perhaps best known for defending Torah Judaism in the first of the Christian-Jewish debates forced upon our ancestors in Europe in 1240.   The debate he was forced into by King Louis IX with the evil Nicholas Donin of La Rochelle, who caused the murder of thousands of Jewish children, was the first of a number of such “debates.”

Rabbeinu Yechiel of Paris also headed the once great Yeshiva in Paris – with 300 talmidim. Among them was his student, the Maharam m”Rottenberg (the Rebbe of the Rosh, father of the Tur). However, after King Louis IX (ironically called Saint Louis) burned over 12,000 copies of the Talmud in France, the Yeshiva had, as a consequence, lost its grandeur.


But Rabbeinu Yechiel of Paris is also known for his position on the celebration of Purim Katan.  He invited numerous people to his Purim Katan Seudah.  The Leket Yosher writes that Rabbeinu Yechiel also added an extra dish to the meal and also had the practice of eating figs at this Seudah.  The Mishna Brurah mentions that Rabbeinu Yechiel had this practice of being marbeh b’Seudah – likely implying that we should be doing it too.

There are certain other halachos regarding Purim Katan that we follow on this day.  We do not fast, nor do we eulogize.  Shacharis and Mincha may end a little bit earlier because the Tachanun is not recited on Purim Katan.  LaMenatzayach is also not recited at Shacharis.  But Rabbeinu Yechiel is noted for even holding a Seudah – and inviting others.

We do find other mention of it as well.  The Tur in OC 697 cites the view of the Rif (who preceded Rabbeinu Yechiel) that one should have a Purim Katan seudah on the 14th of Adar Rishon.  One doesn’t do so on Shulshan Purim of Adar Rishon, however. The Bais Yosef writes so as well, but notes that Mishloach Manos is not done.  The Baalei Tosfos, however, do hold that even on the 15th of Adar Rishon there would be a Shushan Purim Katan observed.  The meaning is (according to the Pri Magadim and the Mishna Brurah) that even cities that are surrounded by a wall that would normally observe Shushan Purim – only hold a seudah on the 14th – not the fifteenth in an Adar Rishon.   The Ran, cited by the Maharil writes that it is a Mitzvah to celebrate on the 14th of Adar Rishon, but the Maharil adds the caveat that he had not seen it practiced.  The Bais Yosef and SmaK also cite the Ran.

The Ramah’s actual wording on the topic is, “There are those who say that one is obligated to increase in joy and feasting on the 14th of Adar I; however, this is not the practice. Nonetheless, one should increase somewhat his joy and feasting in order to fulfill the words of those who are stringent , [as it states in Proverbs,] ‘One who is of good heart is festive always.

But let’s get back to Rabbeinu Yechiel and his practices.


This author would like to put out four theories as to why Rabbeinu Yechiel placed such an emphasis on this observance of Purim Katan:

Theory #1:  The simple implication of the Mishna in Megillah (1:4) of, “Ain bain adar Rishon l’Adar Sheini elah krias hamegillah umatanos l’evyonim” implies that other aspects of Purim should be observed.

The question on this theory would be, “Yes, but what about mishloach manos?”

Theory #2:  There seems to be an indication from the Talmud Yerushalmi that the miracle of Purim had actually occurred in an Adar Rishon.

Rabbi Levi said in the name of Rabbi Choma ben Rabbi Chaninah: “That year was a leap year. How so? It is written, Cast the pur, that is the lot, before Haman, from day to day and from month to month, to the 12th month, the month of Adar.”  The extra verbiage may indicate that it was on an Adar Rishon – even though the Bavli indicates otherwise.

Theory #3:

Perhaps Rabbeinu Yechiel held of the future position of the Chasam Sofer (at the end of his Chiddushim on the Mesechta) that not eulogizing and not fasting on Purim Katan is actually a Deoraisah – Torah obligation.  He writes that although Megillaha and the other Purim practices are miderabanan – the obligation to mark a miracle is actually from the Torah.  The Gemorah in Megillah 14a derives the obligation to thank from Pesach through the use of a Kal VaChomer.  “If there is an obligation to thank Hashem on Pesach where we merely obtained freedom from slavery, is it not a kol shekain to do so when we obtained life from death?”  The Chasam Sofer further cites a Ramban in Sefer HaMitzvos to this effect as well.

Theory #4

It is interesting to note that during the time of the Beis HaMikdash, before we had a set and fixed calendar, there were times when we had two Purim Gadols and no Purim Katan.  “How is that?”, the reader may ask?

In those times, it was the Sanhedrin that decided upon adding an extra month or not – in order to ensure that the barley crop would be ready so that we could bring the Korban Omer in its proper time.  Sometimes, however, the Sanhedrin would only decide to add the extra month of Adar – after Purim had been observed!  In that case, we had two observances of Reading the Megillah, Mishloach Manos, Matanos L’Evyonim, the Purim Seudah, and at least a month and a half of true Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha.

Since the Purim of Adar Rishon of the times of the Beis HaMikdash was thus likely to be so much more significant, Rabbeinu yechiel might have felt that it was worthwhile to mimic some aspects of the observation of Purim Katan in the Beis HaMikdash, and he, therefore, held a Seudah, inviting others too.

As reported by Vos Iz Neias