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What attire is to be worn on Purim?
A. Wearing Shabbos clothing:
One should wear Shabbos clothing throughout the day of Purim [starting from the previous night].
Importance of wearing Shabbos clothing on Purim:
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.
It is accustomed to wear costumes on Purim.
Wearing clothing of the other gender: It is accustomed on Purim [and by Chasunas] to allow males to wear the clothing of females and vice versa. [However many Poskim challenge this custom and thus practically one is not to do so. Some write it is to be avoided even by children. 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.]
Shatnez: It is customary on Purim to be lenient to allow one to wear clothing that contain merely Rabbinically forbidden Shatnez. However there are opinions that forbid doing so. Practically the custom is like the former opinion [although many Poskim conclude one is to be stringent even regarding Rabbinical Shatnez].
It is a vintage custom to wear costumes on Purim. Nevertheless one is to avoid wearing clothing of the opposite gender or clothing that contains even Rabbinical Shatnez.
Children are accustomed to wear crowns on Purim and those who do so are blessed.
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.
May one dress up like Haman?
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?
The custom is to dress in costumes on Sunday.
When Purim falls on Motzei Shabbos may one begin wearing costumes before Shabbos is over?
No. One must wait until Shabbos is over prior to changing into costumes. This applies likewise to children. [Some Poskim 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. It is however proper for men to not do any Biblical Melacha until the conclusion of Maariv, even after reciting Baruch Hamavdil.]
May one do magic tricks on Purim?
Many Poskim forbid doing magic tricks even on Purim.
C. Purim Shpeil:
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:
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.
 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]
 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]
 Sipurei Chassidim [Zevin] Purim 15
 Rama 696/8
 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]
 Rama ibid; Mahriy Mintz 16; Hisorerus Teshuvah 500
 Yireim 96, brought in Taz Yoreh Deah 182/4; Shach 182/7
 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]
 Bach brought in Taz Yoreh Deah 182/4 [Taz concludes “One who is stringent is blessed”]; 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
 The reason: As the allowance to wear clothing of the opposite gender for mere playfulness is only in a case that one does not appear like the opposite gender, being that he/she remains wearing clothing of also his/her gender. [See Shach ibid and Atzei Levona 182]
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/14; Nitei Gavriel 75/7
 M”B 696/30 in name of P”M; Implication of Shach 182/7 as explained in Atzei Levona
 Rama 696/8
 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]
 Shlah brought in M”B 696/30; Aruch Hashulchan 696/12
 Hisvadyus 1988 2/484
 Luach Davar Beito; Hiskashrus 1025; Rabbi Blumenkrantz 2005 p. 418
 Otzer Minhagei Chabad 60 based on Likkutei Sichos p. 280
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/14
 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]
 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.
 Admur 299/15
 See 299/19
 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
 See Piskeiy Teshuvos 696/14; Nitei Gavriel 74; Mishneh Halachos 3/148; Maharitz 56; Toras Menachem 1984 2/1179; Shulchan Menachem 3/325
 See Sipurei Chassidim [Zevin] Purim 4 [a story with the Shpola Zeida]; story 10 [story with Reb Tzevi of Ziditchov]
 See Beis Moshiach 641; Mamar of “Al Kein Karu Hayamim Haeilu Purim” recited on Purim 1953 [Mugah].