Eating and drinking prior to Megillah reading of night and day

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

Buy me on

Eating and drinking prior to Megillah reading of night and day:[1]

It is forbidden to eat prior to hearing the Megillah reading [both] at night [and by day[2]].[3] This applies even if it is difficult for one to continue fasting Taanis Esther until the end of the Megillah reading.[4] Some Poskim[5] rule that thus applies even if one is sick. It is better for one who has difficulty fasting to hear the Megillah prior to nighttime, by Plag Hamincha, than to eat after nightfall, prior to the Megillah reading.[6] [This applies equally to men and women.[7] This applies even if one has a Shomer to remind him.[8] Even those who generally eat before prayer during the year so they have strength to pray, may not eat a meal prior to hearing Megillah on Purim.[9]]

Snacking:[10] One may not even eat a snack prior to hearing Megillah at night [and by day[11]] [unless it is a case of great need, as will be explained].[12]

Drinking: From the letter of the law, seemingly it is permitted to drink at least water, and if needed even coffee and tea, prior to Megillah reading of both night and day.[13] Nevertheless, it is an act of piety to fast until after one hears the Megillah reading, just like it is an act of piety to fast prior to hearing the Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah and shaking the Lulav on Sukkos.[14]

Time of need:[15] In a time of great need [such as one who feels very weak due to the fast or one who is sick[16]] one may eat a small snack prior to hearing the Megillah reading.[17] The definition of a snack is up to 57.6 grams of bread [or Mezonos[18]] and 57.6 grams worth of an [alcoholic[19]] beverage.[20] [Such a person may drink an unlimited amount of other liquids, such as water, tea, and coffee, and eat an unlimited amount of fruits.[21]] If the above amount does not suffice, and the delay of a proper meal can possibly damage his health, then he may be lenient to eat even more than the above amount, so long as he appoints a person to remind him to read or hear the Megillah.[22]

Past midday by day reading:[23] If one will not be able to hear Megillah prior to midday, he is to eat a snack and drink beforehand, as it is forbidden to fast on Purim past midday.



From the letter of the law, it is forbidden to eat even a mere snack prior to hearing the Megillah reading both at night and by day. Although there is room to permit drinking before Megillah reading, it is customary amongst many to fast until after the reading. In a time of great need, one may eat a snack prior to the reading of both night and day, which does not consist of more than 57 grams of Mezonos or Hamotzi foods. If one will not hear Megillah until past midday, then one must eat [a snack] and drink beforehand.  


May women eat prior to hearing Megillah?[24]

No. The above law applies equally to both men and women.[25] This applies by both night and day. However, if she feels weak and the continued fast could damage her health, such as nursing or pregnant women[26], then she may eat a regular meal prior to the Megillah reading. Nonetheless, she is to set up a Shomer to remind her to hear Megillah.[27] During the day, if a woman will be unable to hear Megillah until midday, she is to eat a snack beforehand, as stated above.  

In Jerusalem, until when may they eat on Erev Purim [the 14th]?[28]

One who is celebrating Purim on the 15th may eat and drink on Erev Purim, the 14th, until sunset [however not within thirty minutes prior to nightfall[29]]. If one Davened Maariv prior to sunset then he may not eat from that point and onwards


If one began a meal on Erev Purim must he stop eating when nighttime arrives?[30]

Ø  Example: In Jerusalem one had a meal towards the late afternoon of the 14th, must he stop eating when night arrives? Purim fell on Motzei Shabbos, must one stop eating Shalosh Seudos when nighttime arrives?

Ø  One was Halachically not required to fast and began his meal near sunset of the 13th, must he end his meal when nighttime arrives?

The law: If one began[31] his meal with bread[32] prior to sunset[33] he is not required to stop eating when sunset arrives. [However, one is required to stop to join the communal Megillah reading.[34]] Regarding whether he is to say Al Hanissim, see previous Halacha 4D!


If one who plans to celebrate Purim on the 15th in Jerusalem, is participating in a meal on the 14th outside of Jerusalem, must he stop eating when sunset arrives?

If one began the meal prior to sunset he is not required to stop eating once sunset arrives, as explained above. [However, one is required to stop to join the communal Megillah reading.[35]]



[1] Michaber and Rama 692:4 regarding the night reading “One who is unable cant make it to Shul for Megillah reading at night and must wait to eat until after the reading of the congregation, and it is difficult for him to fast so long, is able to hear the reading during daytime, by Plag Hamincha. [Michaber ibid] However it is forbidden to eat prior to hearing Kerias Megillah even if the fast is very difficult” [Rama ibid]; Terumas Hadeshen 109; Nitei Gavriel 32:1-4This prohibition applies before all time dependent Mitzvos: 1) Regarding Mincha and Maariv: See 232:2; 235:2; 2) Regarding Bedikas Chameitz see: 431:5; 3) Regarding Shofar see: Mateh Efraim 588:2; Alef Hamagen 581:81; Ashel Avraham Butchach 589:3; Kaf Hachaim 585:26. 4) Regarding Lulav see: 652:2;

[2] Implication of Terumas Hadeshen ibid and M”A 692:7; M”B 692:15 “So too by day even if he already Davened Shacharis”; Kaf Hachaim 692:37; This follows the same law as eating prior to any Mitzvah

The reason: Although the Michaber and Rama ibid only explicitly refer to the night reading, nonetheless it also applies to the day reading, as is always the law regarding not to eat before a Mitzvah such as Shofar or Lulav. [M”B ibid] Furthermore, the reading of the day is even more severe than the reading by night. [Shaar Hatziyon 692:27; See M”A ibid]

[3] Rama ibid; Terumos Hadeshen ibid

The reason: As prior to fulfilling any command that has a specific time to be fulfilled [such as Shema of Maariv] the law prohibits eating beforehand due to that one may come to forget to fulfill the command. [M”B 692:15]

[4] Rama ibid

[5] See M”A 692:6 in name of Maharil “Even a sick person may not eat before the Megillah reading, unless his life is in danger”; However see M”B 692:16 and Shaar Hatziyon 692:29 that he can be lenient if a Shomer is set up; However, if one who was sick and did not fast, he is nevertheless to abstain from eating from a half hour before nightfall until after Megillah reading [See Nitei Gavriel 32:6

[6] Michaber ibid; Terumos Hadeshen ibid; See M”A 692:7 in name of Beis Yosef and Orchos Chaim that the custom was to read the Megillah during daytime, after Plag, in order to allow the weak and pregnant women to eat right away.

[7] See Q&A!

[8] See M”B 692:16 that we only apply the allowance of a Shomer if one is sick

[9] The reason: See previous footnote. This is similar to the custom that even those that eat before Davening do not eat prior to reciting Shema.

[10] Terumas Hadeshen ibid “We do not allow him even to snack a little prior to Megillah”; M”A 692:7 only permits in a time of great need; Elya Raba 692:11; M”B 692:14; Misgeres Hashulchan 141:6; Kaf Hachaim 692:36; See regarding Shofar: Mateh Efraim 588:2; Kaf Hachaim 585:26; 588:11; Chasam Sofer 7; Takanas Rav Akiva Eiger ibid; Mahrsham 1:1; Heishiv Moshe 19; Shaareiy Teshuvah 584:3; Minchas Yitzchak 5:111; Betzeil Hachochmah 4:147; Sheivet Halevy 4:54; Lehoros Nasan 1:29; See however the following Poskim who are lenient by Shofar: See Alef Hamagen 581:81 [in footnote that all snacking is permitted before a Mitzvah]; Hisorerus Teshuvah 147; Olas Shmuel 82; Tzitz Eliezer 6:7; 7:32; 8:21; Az Nidbaru 1:10; Kaf Hachaim 585:26 [brings opinions in this matter]; See regarding Lulav: M”A 652:4

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted to snack before Megillah reading. [M”A ibid in implication of changed wording of Rama ibid versus Teurmas Hadeshen ibid, and as is the rule before other Mitzvos such as Shema and Chametz; See M”A 652:4] Practically, one may only be lenient in a time of great need. [M”A ibid]

[11] Implication of Terumas Hadeshen, M”A and Poskim ibid who write the reason behind the prohibition is due to the severity of Megillah reading, and since the main reading is by day, certainly this snacking prohibition applies likewise by daytime.

[12] The reason: As we find that prior to the night Shema one may not even snack, lest he full asleep. Furthermore, Megillah is not similar to other Mitzvos by which we allow snacking beforehand, as all Mitzvos are pushed off in face of Megillah reading. [M”A ibid] See Levush 692:4; Nitei Gavriel 32 footnote 1 that the reason the eating law before Megillah is more severe than before other Mitzvos is because they suspected one may come to continue in eating due to the hunger caused by the fast. This reason, however, would only apply at night

[13] See Kitzur SHU”A 141:8 regarding the allowance to drink coffee after the fast; We do not find in the Poskim an explicit prohibition against drinking and that one must fast until he hears Megillah; See Darkei Chaim Veshalom 716 that one may drink tea or coffee before Shofar and that so is the custom of some of Anash [Rav Zalmin Shimon Dworkin ruled one may drink before Shofar, and so ruled to me Rav Avraham Osdaba, as well as Rav Tuvia Bloy.] However, see Misgeres Hashulchan 141:6 who limits this ruling of the Kitzur SHU”A to a case of great need, and seemingly he is likewise referring to drinking coffee.

[14] See Rokeach Hagadol 353, brought in Alef Lamagen 581:81 and 588:2, and so is custom of many of Anash.

[15] M”A 692:7; Elya Raba 692:11; Kitzur SHU”A 141:8; Misgeres Hashulchan 141:6; M”B 692:14; Kaf Hachaim 692:36

Other Opinions: Some opinions rule one may not be lenient to eat any food before the reading. [Terumas Hadeshen 109]

[16] M”B 692:14 in name of Derech Hachaim 3; Kaf Hachaim 692:36

[17] Thus it is better to eat a snack prior to Megillah reading than to have to resort to reading it before nightfall, by Plag Hamincha. [ibid]

[18] Piskeiy Teshuvos 692:8 based on P”M 431 A”A 4

[19] Piskeiy Teshuvos 692:8 based on M”A 232; M”B 232:35

[20] M”B 692:14 in name of Derech Hachaim 3; Kaf Hachaim 692:36

[21] Piskeiy Teshuvos 692:8 based on M”A 232; M”B 232:35

[22] M”B 692:16; Kaf Hachaim 692:38

Other Opinions: The M”A 692:7 writes in the name of the Maharil that one may not eat prior to the Megillah reading even if he is sick, unless it will lead to danger. The M”B ibid negates this opinion on the basis that if he is sick he is exempt from fasting all together on the fast. [Shaar Hatziyon 692:29]

[23] So rule regarding Lulav and the same would apply here regarding Purim: M”A 652:4; M”B 652:7; See Nitei Gavriel 32:5

[24] Piskeiy Teshuvos in name of Salmas Chaim 104

[25] M”A 692:7 in name of Beis Yosef who includes “Pregnant women”; See, however, Nitei Gavriel 32:4 in name of Poskim that by the day reading, those who rely on their husbands to read for them may eat beforehand

[26] See Chapter 4 Halacha 1D that nursing and pregnant women are exempt from fasting all together.

[27] See M”B 692:16 and Shaar Hatziyon 692:29

[28] Kaf Hachaim 692:35

[29] Seemingly one should be forbidden to begin a meal or eat starting from a half hour before nightfall, irrelevant of the time of sunset, [as rules Michaber 235:2 regarding Maariv, 232:2 regarding mincha, and Admur 70:5 regarding Shacharis]. Hence in Israel that there is only about 20 minutes before sunset and nightfall, the prohibition should begin starting from ten minutes before sunset. Veztaruch Iyun on the Kaf Hachaim ibid which simply writes sunset.

[30] Admur 70:5 regarding eating before Shacharis; 188:17 regarding Al Hanissim; Michaber 232:1 regarding eating before Mincha; M”B 235:21; 692:15


In 70:5 Admur rules that if one began a meal prior to thirty minutes before Alos then he is not required to stop his meal even to say Shema [although practically he is stringent regarding Shacharis due to an external reason]. This ruling is repeated in Michaber 232:2 regarding Mincha; In 235:2 regarding Maariv. In 188:17 Admur discusses the law regarding one that had a meal on Erev Shabbos and Erev Rosh Chodesh and finished his meal after night, does he say Yaleh Veyavo or Ritzei. He then concludes “and so is the law regarding Purim and Chanukah”. Thus we clearly see that if one started a meal before Purim he is not required to end his meal when Purim begins and thus he is even to say Al Hanissim if he ate a Kezayis into the night as explained there.

Chumra of the Rokeaich: The Rokeiach writes that the custom of the Chassidim Harishonim was to fast until one performs a Mitzvah that comes from time to time. [Rokeiach Eirusin Unisuin p. 239] Perhaps based on these words one is not to eat past sunset until he hears Megillah, irrelevant of the above discussion brought in Poskim ibid. In truth however one can say this only applies by a Mitzvah done by day, as it is considered a fast since he will not eat the entire day until he does the Mitzvah. However here since one already ate before sunset, what would be the purpose of now fasting. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[31] Regarding if one washed for bread and did not yet say Hamotzi, then if it is prior to 30 minutes before nightfall [Tzeis] he may continue with his meal and it follows the same law as above. If however it is within 30 minutes to nightfall then if he did not yet say Al Netilas Yadayim he may not begin his meal. [Rama 235:2] If however he already said the blessing then he is to eat a Kezayis:Kebeitza of bread and recite Birchas Hamazon. [M”B 235:25]

[32] If however he did not eat bread then he must stop eating thirty minutes before nightfall. See previous Q&A!

[33] Kaf Hachaim 692:35 writes one may eat until sunset, however seemingly one may not eat within 30 minutes before nightfall even if it is prior to sunset, as explained in Q&A above in footnotes.

If one began his meal after sunset: If one transgressed and began his meal after sunset, or within 30 minutes before nightfall, then he is required to stop his meal to say Shema, although he is not required to stop his meal to Daven Maariv or hear Megillah. [235:2; Admur 75:5]

[34] 687:1 that one is required to nullify all Mitzvahs in order to hear the communal Megillah reading. Certainly then one must stop his meal to join this reading. Upashut! See Chapter 7 Halacha 7

[35] 687:1 that one is required to nullify all Mitzvahs in order to hear the communal Megillah reading. Certainly then one must stop his meal to join this reading. Upashut! See Chapter 7 Halacha 7

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.