Purim attire & doing Melacha


What attire is to be worn on Purim?
A. Wearing Shabbos clothing:[1]
One should wear Shabbos clothing throughout the day of Purim [starting from the previous night[2]].

Maaseh Shehaya

Importance of wearing Shabbos clothing on Purim:[3]
The Tzaddik of Zichlin, Reb Shmuel Aba, was extremely particular that people in his community celebrated Purim properly and wore elegant clothing. It occurred one year that everyone came to the Megillah reading dressed in their best Shabbos and Yom Tov attire with exception to one member of the congregation that came dressed in weekday clothing. When he was asked why he is not dressed in his Shabbos clothes he answered that Purim is not a holiday just like fever is not an illness. The Rebbe then entered the Shul and told the man that by us Purim is a holiday and fever is an illness. As soon as the man returned home he got struck with a sudden fever. The man regretted his ways and called the Rebbe to bless him with a complete recovery. The Rebbe told him “so now you know that fever is an illness, all that’s left for you to also know is that Purim is a holiday”. The man remained ill until Purim of next year in which he became completely cured.

B. Costumes:[4]
It is accustomed to wear costumes on Purim.[5]
Wearing clothing of the other gender:[6] It is accustomed on Purim to allow males to wear the clothing of females and vice versa.[7] [However many Poskim[8] challenge this custom and thus practically one is not to do so. Some write it is to be avoided even by children.[9] If it is recognizable that the person is a man or woman, and he or she merely wears a single clothing of the opposite gender, there is room to be lenient.[10]]
Shatnez:[11] It is customary on Purim to be lenient to allow one to wear clothing that contain merely Rabbinically forbidden Shatnez.[12] However there are opinions that forbid doing so. Practically the custom is like the former opinion [although many Poskim[13] conclude one is to be stringent even regarding Rabbinical Shatnez].

It is a vintage costume to wear costumes on Purim. Nevertheless one is to avoid wearing clothing of the opposite gender or clothing that contain even Rabbinical Shatnez.


Wearing Crowns:[14]
Children are accustomed to wear crowns on Purim and those who do so are blessed.

Shatnez alert:
Many Purim costumes contain Biblically forbidden Shatnez and according to all may not be worn. This is especially found in army costumes from Eastern Europe.[15] 

May one dress up like Haman?[16]
One is to prevent children from dressing like Haman in order so they do not have any similarity to the Rasha. This applies even for Purim plays.

On Purim Meshulash in Jerusalem, when are the children to dress in costumes?[17]
The custom is to dress in costumes on Sunday.

When Purim falls on Motzei Shabbos may one begin wearing costumes before Shabbos is over?[18]
No. One must wait until Shabbos is over prior to changing into costumes. This applies likewise to children. [Some Poskim[19]rule that one is not required to recite Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh Lechol prior to switching clothing. However one is obligated to say it prior to doing any actual Melacha, such as placing makeup and the like.[20] It is however proper for men to not do any Biblical Melacha until the conclusion of Maariv, even after reciting Baruch Hamavdil.[21]]

May one do magic tricks on Purim?[22]
Many Poskim forbid doing magic tricks even on Purim.

C. Purim Shpeil:[23]
Many have the custom of making a Purim play to mock the evil doers that appeared throughout our history. However one must beware not to shame or embarrass another person. One may not make a play mocking Tzaddikim and notable people mentioned in Tanach. 

The power of a Purim play:[24]
Many stories are told of the power of the Purim plays, and how even Tzaddikim would participate in these plays and impersonate different members of the government. Many miracles and nullification of decrees occurred as a result of these plays. Many tie the peculiar events that occurred during the Farbrengen of Purim 1953 to the death of Stalin on that day, Purim 1953.[25]

Working On Purim:[26]
From the letter of the law it is permitted to do work on Purim.[27] However the accepted custom is to refrain from work on Purim.[28] One who does work on Purim will not see blessing from that work.[29]
The 14th and 15th:[30] The custom of refraining from work only applies on the date that a city celebrates Purim. Thus on the 15th in un-walled cities, and the 14th in walled cities there is no such custom to refrain from work. [Nevertheless there are those that rule one is to avoid doing Melacha on both the 14th and 15th.[31] Practically this matter is dependent on one’s custom.[32] The custom today is only to be stringent on the date that one celebrates Purim.]
The definition of work:[33] The definition of work is any action which takes a lot of one’s attention. Thus those matters which can be done without much concentration are permitted to be done. [Nevertheless even when doing such actions one is to beware not to involve himself in them for a lengthy period of time, in order that he not nullify the Mitzvah of rejoicing on Purim.[34]]
Writing: Based on the above one may write a letter to a friend, or jot down his debts and the like.[35] One may write Halachic rulings.[36]
Buildings of Simcha:[37] It is permitted to build buildings of Simcha, such as a house for a Chasan and Kallah, and the like. It is likewise permitted to plant an Avurnaki[38] tree.
Buying and selling:[39] One may buy and sell on Purim being that this is considered a joyous activity. [Nevertheless some Poskim[40] rule that one is not to do actual business on Purim even if it only involves buying and selling.]
Actions done for the need of a Mitzvah:[41] All Mitzvah related activities may be done. Thus one may write Halachic rulings.[42]
Actions done for the need of Purim:[43] One may do any action or work, even if it takes much of one’s attention, if it is needed to be done for Purim.
May a gentile do work for a Jew:[44] All forms of work may be done through a gentile.
Preventing loss:[45] It is permitted to do work on Purim in order to prevent a loss.
One who does not have what to eat:[46] If one does not have money to eat he may perform any type of work to attain the means of providing himself his daily meal.[47]


May one do work on the night of Purim?[48]
Some Poskim[49] rule it is permitted to do work on the night of Purim and the prohibition only applies by the day of Purim starting from sunrise. Others[50] rule the prohibition applies equally to the night of Purim.

May one cut nails on Purim?[51]
No.[52] However a woman may cut her nails for the need of a Mitzvah.
Purim that falls on Erev Shabbos: One may cut his nails on Purim that falls on Erev Shabbos being that it is a Mitzvah to cut one’s nails in honor of Shabbos.

May one cut his hair on Purim?
Some Poskim[53] rule it is permitted to get a haircut on Purim as it is not considered a Melacha. Others[54] rule that it is forbidden [and so is the practical ruling]. Nevertheless a gentile may cut give one a haircut.[55] A woman may cut her hair for the need of a Mitzvah.[56]
Purim that falls on Erev Shabbos: This is subject to the same dispute mentioned above. Practically one is to only do so through a gentile barber.[57]

May one do laundry?[58]
It is forbidden to do laundry on Purim.

May one do construction in his house on Purim?[59]
One may not do construction in his house on Purim. This applies even regarding having gentile workers perform the work.

May one do construction in a Shul on Purim?[60]

May one do construction in a store on Purim?[62]
Some Poskim rule it is allowed.

May one write an essay on Purim?
Any essay which involves much concentration is forbidden to be written on Purim.

May one write a Megillah on Purim?
Some Poskim[63] rule one may not write a Megillah on Purim.[64] Others[65] rule it is allowed. If one does not have a Megillah available and plans to use it for reading that day then it may be written according to all.[66]

May one write Tefillin or Mezuzahs or a Sefer Torah on Purim?
No, as it is considered a Melacha.[67]

May one open his store on Purim?
Yes.[68] However some Poskim[69] are stringent. Practically every G-d fearing Jew should refrain from doing so unless they sell items which people need for Purim, such as food or drink.[70]

Are the inhabitants of cities which keep Purim on both the 14th and 15th due to doubt, to refrain from Melacha on both days?[71]
Yes. All the cities that are stringent to celebrate and fulfill the Mitzvos of Purim also on the 15th, are to refrain from work on both days, the 14th and 15th.

On Purim Meshulash may Melacha be done on Erev Shabbos and Sunday?[72]
Erev Shabbos: One may not do Melacha on Erev Shabbos.[73]Nevertheless it is permitted to get a haircut in honor of Shabbos.[74] However one is to only do so through a gentile barber.[75]
Sunday: Melacha is permitted on Sunday.[76] Nevertheless it is proper to refrain from Melacha starting from midday.[77]



[1] Rama 695/2 in name of Maharil

 The Chabad custom-Wearing a silk Kapata: Sefer Haminhagim [English] p. 172 records the custom of the Rebbe to wear the silk overcoat [Kapata/Sirtuk] on Purim. The Rebbe explicitly states there that this is not meant as a directive for the public and is only the custom of Beis Harav. Nevertheless the custom amongst Chabad Chassidim has become to wear their regular Yom Tov clothing on Purim, as stated above in the Rama. This includes wearing the Shabbos overcoat, which is meant to be of silk. [See Otzer Minhagei Chabad 78; Hiskashrus 1025 footnote 15]

 [2] Kaf Hachaim 695/22; Rav Chaim Vital would immerse in a Mikveh on Erev Purim and change into Shabbos clothing for Purim night and day. [Kaf Hachaim 695/13]

 [3] Sipurei Chassidim [Zevin] Purim 15

 [4] Rama 696/8

 [5] Rama ibid


 The custom behind wearing a costume is first mentioned in the Sefer Even Bochen 39 [written by Klonumis ben Kolnumis in the 1200’s]. It is later mentioned in the responses of Rav Yehuda of Mintz [Mahriy Mintz 16]. It is also mentioned in Minhagei Worms 261; Elya Raba 696/15; Mahrahm Chagiz 543. The Rebbe mentions this custom in Hisvadyos 1985 3 p. 1588

 The reason: There are many reasons attributed to this custom: Just like Hashem hid himself from us during the decrees of Purim, similarly we hide ourselves behind clothing and masks that conceal our faces. [Bnei Yissachar 60/1, brought in Taamei Haminhagim 892] Alternatively it is in order not to shame the paupers who receive the gifts of Matanos Laevyonim. [Minhagei Kol Aryeh] Alternatively it is done to commemorate the downfall of Amaleik who dressed like the Canaanites during the times of Moshe. [Ketzos Hashulchan supplements in back of first Sefer]

 [6] Rama ibid; Mahriy Mintz 16; Hisorerus Teshuvah 500

 [7] The reason and other opinions: This is not forbidden due to the cross-dressing prohibition as the intent is for mere joy [as opposed to promiscuity]. Nevertheless according to some opinions, there remains a prohibition for a man to wear women’s clothing, or vice versa, even in such a case. Practically the custom is like the lenient opinion. [Rama ibid]

 [8] Bach brought in Taz Yoreh Deah 182/4; Shach 182/7; Yireim 96; Teshuvas Harambam; Shalah; Kneses Hagedola; M”B 696/30; Kisei Eliyahu 696/3; Birkeiy Yosef 696/13 and Yoreh Deah 182/3; Beis Oved 696/10; Kaf Hachaim 696/57; Aruch Hashulchan 696/12

 [9] Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/14; Nitei Gavriel 75/7

 [10] M”B 696/30 in name of P”M

 [11] Rama 696/8

 [12] What is Rabbinical Shatnez? See Yoreh Deah 300/1 regarding a Leved [a leved is a cloth which is made without weaving and sewing] that according to the Michaber ibid it is Biblically forbidden. The majority of Poskim however, including the Rama, hold that it is only Rabbinically forbidden. [Shach 300/1]

 [13] Shlah brought in M”B 696/30; Aruch Hashulchan 696/12

 [14] Hisvadyus 1988 2/484

 [15] Luach Davar Beito; Hiskashrus 1025; Rabbi Blumenkrantz 2005 p. 418

 [16] Otzer Minhagei Chabad 60 based on Likkutei Sichos p. 280

 [17] Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/14

 [18] Admur 254/10 [regarding removing Challah from oven, wine from cellar]; 302/10 [regarding making the beds]; 319/18 [regarding removing fat from soup]; 321/6 [regarding watering vegetables]; 323/6 [regarding washing dishes]; 324/11 [regarding switching plate of food from ox to donkey]; 338/8 [regarding moving fruits from roof]; 611/5 [regarding preparing vegetables on Yom Kippur]

 The reason: As it is forbidden to prepare on Shabbos for the sake of a weekday. [254/10; 302/10; 323/6; 503/3; 611/5] And it is forbidden to trouble oneself on Shabbos for the sake of a weekday. [319/18; 321/6; 323/6; 324/11; 338/8; 611/5] Doing so is Rabbinically forbidden [302/10] being that it is a mundane action and a belittling of Shabbos. [338/8]

 [19] Elya Raba 299/22; Shaareiy Teshuvah 299/2; M”B 299/40; Piskeiy Teshuvos 299 footnote 110

 Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to even do actions of preparation from Shabbos to weekday until one hears Havdala or recites Baruch Hamavdil. [Alef Hamagen 599/5 in name of Achronim; Nitei Gavriel 28/7; Hiskashrus 1025]

 Ruling of Admur: Regarding the need to say Baruch Hamavdil prior to performing Melacha Admur 299/15 states “Likewise some permit performing, after Shabbos is over but prior to saying Havdala, all Rabbinical prohibitions which are forbidden simply due to them being a mundane act.” Thus if preparing from Shabbos to a weekday is considered a mundane act prohibition it would be permitted according to this opinion. In 338/8 Admur rules that the prohibition of preparing on Shabbos for a weekday is due to being a mundane act, and hence accordingly it would be permitted to be performed according to this opinion. However Tzaruch Iyun if Admur’s final stance on the matter follows this opinion, as a) The first opinion holds that one may not do any of his preparations or work prior to escorting the king through Havdala. This seems to imply that even preparations of Uvdin Dechol are forbidden according to this opinion. Likewise, b) Admur never concludes that we rule like the second opinion and simply states that regarding Yom Kippur we are lenient to follow it. Vetzaruch Iyun if one can learn from Yom Kippur to other places. From here can be understood the source of the ruling of the Alef Hamagen ibid that rules stringently in this matter. It is a wonderment on the Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid that he omitted this first opinion brought in Admur. It is also a wonderment on Nitei Gavriel ibid who completely omits all the Poskim that are lenient in this matter.

 [20] Admur 299/15

 [21] See 299/19

 [22] See Yoreh Deah 179/15; Shach 179/17; Chachmas Adam 75; Kitzur SHU”A 166/4; Shevet Halevy 5/129; Yechaveh Daas 3/68; Yabia Omer 5/14; Yavin Daas 119 [permits if tell the audience that it is illusions]; Igros Moshe Yoreh Deah 4/13 [permits magic tricks]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/14

 Opinion of Rebbe: See Igros Kodesh 16/30; Hiskashrus 772; 823

 [23] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/14; Nitei Gavriel 74; Mishneh Halachos 3/148; Maharitz 56; Toras Menachem 1984 2/1179; Shulchan Menachem 3/325

 [24] See Sipurei Chassidim [Zevin] Purim 4 [a story with the Shpola Zeida]; story 10 [story with Reb Tzevi of Ziditchov]

 [25] See Beis Moshiach 641; Mamar of “Al Kein Karu Hayamim Haeilu Purim” recited on Purim 1953 [Mugah].

 [26] 696/1


 Mordechai had originally instituted a decree against doing work on Purim similar to other Holidays, although this decree was not accepted and hence has no legal status. The Megillah first states “Yimei Mishteh Vesimcha Veyom Tov” which implies they accepted upon themselves not to do Melacha. Nevertheless in truth this was not accepted as is seen from the continuation which states “Laasos Osam Yimei Mishteh Vesimcha” and the word Yom Tov is omitted. Nevertheless certain areas accepted this as a custom upon themselves. [Tractate Megillah 5b; Beis Yosef; Levush; M”B 696/1; Kaf Hachaim 696/1; See Torah Or Megillah Chayav Inish Lebesumei 2; Sichas Purim 5718]

 [27] Michaber ibid

 [28] Rama ibid; Michaber brings that there are some communities which are accustomed not to do Melacha, and the Rama concludes that this is the accepted custom in all places today. So rules also Kneses Hagedola 696/2; Kaf Hachaim 696/7

 [29] Michaber ibid

 To which areas does this statement apply? The above statement only applies in those areas in which the custom is to refrain from doing work. [simple reading of Michaber; Beis Yosef as learned by M”A 696/2] However some Poskim learn from the Rambam that even in areas where there is no such custom to refrain from work on Purim, there will be no sign of blessing from work done on Purim day. [Rieim; Smag; brought in M”A 696/2]

 What is the meaning that one does not see a Siman Bracha? If one for example planted seeds they will not grow. [Beis Yosef] However the Reim writes that although he will not profit from his work [through investing its proceeds] he also will not lose the work done. [M”A 696/3; P”M 696 A”A 3; M”B 696/4] In 251/1 [regarding Erev Shabbos] and 468/3 [regarding Erev Pesach] Admur rules that this means one will lose out the same amount of money from another source.

 Is one who works on Purim ostracized? Although regarding other instances that it is forbidden to do Melacha one who transgresses is places in excommunication [see 468/3 regarding Erev Pesach], nevertheless regarding Purim we do not rule that one who transgresses the custom is placed in excommunication. [Shiyureiy Kneses Hagedola 696/2; Shulchan Gavoa 696/4; majority of Poskim brought in Birkeiy Yosef 696/5 and Erech Hashulchan 696/2] However there are opinions that rule one is to be excommunicated for transgressing the custom. [Rav Acha Gaon in Sheilasos; Hagahos Maimanis; Razah in Maor; Orchos Chaim brought in Birkeiy Yosef 696/5 and Erech Hashulchan 696/2] Practically we rule that there is no excommunication extracted for this transgression. [Kaf Hachaim 696/7] Nevertheless some Poskim rule that if he transgressed advertently he is to be fined. [Ruach Chaim 696/3; Kaf Hachaim 696/8]

 [30] Michaber 696/2 and so rules Birkeiy Yosef 696/7; Kaf Hachaim 696/14

 [31] Drashos Mahril Purim; Abudarham; Peri Chadash brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid and 696/16. The Abudarahm ibid writes that the women are accustomed not to do work on the 15th. [brought in Darkei Moshe 696/1; Yad Efraim]

 [32] M”B 696/7

 [33] Beis Yosef in name of Orchos Chaim; Mateh Moshe 1016; M”A 696/4; Chayeh Adam 154/34; M”B 696/6

 [34] Siddur Yaavetz; M”B 696/6; Kaf Hachaim 696/13

 [35] Beis Yosef in name of Orchos Chaim; Mateh Moshe 1016; M”A 696/4; Taz 696/1; Chayeh Adam 154/34; M”B 696/6

 [36] Rama ibid

 [37] Michaber ibid

 [38] This refers to trees that are planted for their shade and serve as a resting place for the kings to eat under in the summer. [Rashi Megillah 5b]

 [39] Taz 696/1; M”B 696/3

 [40] Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 696/5; Shulchan Gavoa 696/3; Ruach Chaim 696/2; Kaf Hachaim 696/5

 [41] Rama ibid

 [42] However see Kaf Hachaim 690/73 that one may not write a Megillah unless it is needed for reading on Purim.

 [43] Rama ibid

 [44] M”A 696/1; Elya Raba 696/1; Erech Hashulchan 696/1; P”M 696 A”A 1; Chayeh Adam 154/34; M”B 696/2

 [45] P”M 696 A”A 1; Shaar Hatziyon 696/2; Kaf Hachaim 693/3

 [46] P”M 696 M”Z 1; Shaar Hatziyon 696/3; Kaf Hachaim 693/3

 [47] The reason: As doing work for the above purpose is considered a matter of joy. [ibid]

 [48] Biur Halacha 696 “Ein Osin”; Kaf Hachaim 696/2

 [49] Peri Megadim M”Z 697/1

 [50] Chasam Sofer 195

 [51] Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/1 in name of Piskeiy Teshuvah 150 and Divrei Malkiel 5/237

 [52] See 468/6 regarding Erev Pesach that a dispute is brought in this matter.

 [53] Beis David 496; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 696 footnote 1

 [54] Mahariy Algazi 9; Dvar Moshe 44; Ben Ish Chaiy Tetzaveh 21; Pnei Adam 1/44; Kaf Hachaim ibid

 [55] Ben Ish Chaiy Tetzaveh 21; Some rule one may also give himself a haircut and the entire prohibition according to the stringent opinion is to have another Jew cut his hair. [See Beis David ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 696 footnote 1]

 [56] Piskeiy Teshuvos 696 footnote 3

 [57] Mahariy Algazi ibid; Dvar Moshe 44; Ben Ish Chaiy Tetzaveh 21; Pnei Adam 1/44; Kaf Hachaim 696/11

 [58] Ben Ish Chaiy Tetzaveh 1/21

 [59] Beis Dovid 495 brought in Birkeiy Yosef 696/3; Erech Hashulchan 696/1; Shaareiy Teshuvah 696/1; Kaf Hachaim 696/4

 [60] Ruach Chaim 696/1; Moed Lekol Chaiy 31/31; Kaf Hachaim 696/4

 [61] As it is done for the sake of a Mitzvah.

 [62] Chikrei Leiv 2/20 [Shiyurei Orach Chaim]; Kaf Hachaim 696/40

 [63] Kaf Hachaim 690/73; There he explains the ruling of Michaber 690/13 to refer to this case or a case of Bedieved.

 [64] Now although the Rama 696/1 rules that all work may be done for the sake of a Mitzvah, seemingly this only applies in a case that a Mitzvah will be done with the Melacha on Purim.

 [65] M”B 696/6 in name of Peri Megadim and Yerushalmi

 [66] As is the law on Chol Hamoed [545/3]

 [67] See Kaf Hachaim ibid; If however it is being written for a person that will not be able to put on Tefillin until it is written or will not be able to have a Mezuzah in house until it is written, seemingly it is permitted. [See 545/3 regarding writing Tefillin on Chol Hamoed; and certainly here that it is only a custom not to do work and all Mitzvah related work is permitted.]

 [68] Taz 696/1

 [69] Shiyurei Kneses Hagedola 696/5; Shulchan Gavoa 696/3; Ruach Chaim 696/2; Kaf Hachaim 696/5

 [70] Aruch Hashulchan 696/2

 [71] Beis Oved 696/6; Yad Efraim brought in Kaf Hachaim 696/15; Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/3

 [72] Kaf Hachaim 688/49; 696/11; Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/3

 [73] From the letter of the law there is no prohibition to do work on Erev Shabbos [Ran; Ritva; P”M 696 M”Z 1], although the custom is to be stringent. [Mahariy Algazi 9; Sheim Chadash; Mahrasha Alfandri brought in Kaf Hachaim 688/49; Piskeiy Teshuvos 696 footnote 11 ]

 Other Opinions: The Yabia Omer 6/47 rules that there is no prohibition to do work on Erev Shabbos.

[74] Beis David 496; Erech Hashulchan 696/3; Yifei Lalev 5/1

[75] Mahariy Algazi ibid; Dvar Moshe 44; Ben Ish Chaiy Tetzaveh 21; Pnei Adam 1/44; Kaf Hachaim ibid

[76] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid based on that all Poskim omit this prohibition on Sunday.

[77] Based on a proclamation of the Badatz Yerushalayim 1927.


About The Author

Leave A Comment?