Customs of Purim
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Working on Purim
- The minhag in some places is not to work on Purim and in some places the minhag is to work, however, one will not see Bracha that one earns from that work.  During the night of Purim until HaNetz one is allowed to work. 
- From nightfall until one reads the megilla he should not do any work or take a nap. 
Wearing Costumes on Purim
- There is a custom to wear costumes on Purim.  There are many explanations brought down for this minhag. 
- Many poskim are against cross-dressing on Purim as a costume 
- There is a custom to wear Yom Tov clothing on Purim starting the night of Purim. 
- The prayer of al hanissim is inserted into the shmoneh esrei in the beracha of modim and in the beracha of nodeh licha in birkat hamazon on Purim. 
- At night, before reading the megilla we say al hanissim.  This is true even if one recites arvit before nightfall. 
- See Al Hanissim on Chanukah
Weddings on Purim
- Ashkenazim hold that one shouldn't have a wedding on the day on which one reads the Megillah (which is the 14th of Adar except for those observing Shushan Purim in which case its the 15th of Adar). However, Sephardim hold that if there's a need one may have a wedding on Purim.
- Shulchan Aruch 696:1
- Beiur Halacha 696:1 D”H Ein Osin
- Mishna Brurah 692:10,15
- Mahari Mintz Teshuva 15, 10 minute halacha on Purim Costumes by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz
- Siach Yitzchok 380 explains that that we are trying to highlight the fact that Haman hid his hate for the Jewish people when approaching Achashverosh for permission to destroy the Jews. Hashem responded measure for measure by sending Eliyahu disguised as Charvonah to defend the Jewish people.
- The Bnei Yissaschar (on Adar 9:1) cites a Maharam Chagiz who quotes the Gemara Megilla 12a. The Gemora explains that the Jewish people only did things “Lifnim” – hidden – So Hashem as well only did things “Lifnim” – hidden.
- Eliya Rabba 696 says that since Mordechai was dressed up in the royal clothing, we dress up to commemorate that.
- Torat Hamoadim pg. 267 quotes Rav Meir Mazuz (Sansan Liyair 12) that this custom almost certainly developed with non-Jewish origins and therefore tries to stop it. see Orchot Rabbenu 3: pg. 60:note 104 where he argues the reverse: that the non-Jews took the practice from the Jews.
- see The Connection Between Costumes and Drinking on Purim by Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg for an additional explanation
- see 10 minute halacha on Purim Costumes by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz for additional reasons
- see also Costume Costum by Rabbi Richards Jacobs
- As a general rule, dressing up in clothing exclusive to the opposite gender is definitely a problem. The Torah expressly forbids such behavior: "A man's attire shall not be on a woman, nor may a man wear a woman's garment." Deuteronomy 22:5
- Mahari Mintz Teshuva 15 writes that he saw many people dress as members of the opposite gender on Purim in the presence of leading Hachamim, and the Hachamim did not object. He justifies this custom that since one is only dressing up for the Purim celebration and not to promote and promiscuity it could be permissible. The Mahari Mintz compares this practice to the custom he observed of allowing children to grab candies from each other on Purim. Even though Halacha clearly forbids taking other people’s possessions even in jest, and considers this outright theft, in the context of the Purim celebration it is deemed permissible.
- Rama 696:8 writes based on the Mahari Mintz that some are lenient with this and the minhag is to be lenient. The reason is that the issur of cross dressing is because it promotes "Znus" but since on Purim it is done just for "simcha be'alma" fun the issur does not apply
- Rama additionally records a custom to allow wearing on Purim clothes that contain Shaatnez on the level of Rabbinic enactment; these enactments were waived for the purpose of the special joy of Purim.
- Taz YD 182:4 writes that his father-in-law, the Bach, disagreed with the Rama and brought proof from the Yereim that one shouldn't do so for a wedding, and concludes that anyone who refrains will merit blessing
- Rambam and Rabbi Eliezer of Metz (Sefer Yeraim 98) quoted in Sh"t Yechave Daat 5:50: dressing as a member of the opposite gender is forbidden under all circumstances, even for Purim or for the joy of bride and groom.
- Rav Chaim Kanievsky says in the name of the Chazon Ish (quoted in Dirshu Mishna Brura 696: note 52) that cross-dressing on Purim is inappropriate even for children. Bayit Hayehudi Volume 4 page 285 agrees. However, the Steipler and Rav Elyashiv (quoted in Dirshu Mishna Brura 696: note 52) were lenient for young children until the age of Chinuch.
- Pri Megadim OC Mishbetzot Zahav 696:5 writes that if one is only wearing one women's garment but still clearly looks like a man, he may be lenient. This is quoted by Mishna Brura 696:30. Nevertheless, Rav Dovid Feinstein ruled that wearing a women's wig would constitute a simlas isha and would be prohibited.
- Chacham Ovadyah Yosef (Chazon Ovadyah Purim pg 199, Yalkut Yosef pocket-size Moadim pg 494, Sh"t Yabia Omer YD 5:14 and Yechave Daat 5:50) forbids any costumes that involve cross-dressing on Purim, even for children. see also Halacha Yomit. Rav Menashe Klein (Sh"t Mishneh Halachot 11:563) and Rabbi Eli Mansour agree
- Aruch Hashulchan 696:12 writes that although the Rama justifies the custom, this custom doesn't exist anymore
- see 10 minute halacha on Crossdressing on Purim by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz
- Torat HaMoadim (Purim 8:1), Ben Ish Chai Parashat Titzaveh Halacha 22, Mishna Brura 695:3
- Shulchan Aruch 693:2
- Rama 693:2.
- Mishna Brurah 693:4
- Shulchan Aruch 693:3, Mishna Brurah 693:7. The gemara megilla 14a gives three possible reasons: 1. It didn't occur in the land of Israel. 2. That the megilla serves as its replacement. 3. when the story is over, we were still servants to Achashverosh.
- Mishna Brurah 693:8
- Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 142:9
- Shulchan Aruch 696:8 writes that one may have a wedding on Purim. Kaf HaChaim 696:51 quotes some achronim who question this but concludes that if there's a need, one may have a wedding on Purim, but one should do the Seudat Purim before the Chupah.