Mar 1, 2007

The curse of Purim

There is an old tale I heard many times when I was in yeshiva.

The tale goes that no matter what the weather is like leading up to Purim, on Purim itself the weather will be "bad" - rain, chilly, windy, etc. The tale says that one of the rabbonim of Yerushalayim from previous generations (about 60-80 years ago) placed a "curse" of sorts on the day. He prayed that the weather on Purim should always be bad.

The purpose of this curse was to prevent indecent and immodest behavior. Purim is a day that is prone to breeches of tznius - cities all around Israel hold "adloyada" parades. Even the secular fully participate in the celebrations of Purim and dress up, often in immodest costume, and there is a certain spirit in general (in the religious community as well) of freedom-do what you want-answer to nobody-etc. The fact that plenty of people are high on alcohol or even completely drunk only adds to that.

So the Rabbonim supposedly prayed that the weather on Purim should be lousy. In bad weather people cover up more. They are not found outside as much so the parades will be smaller. And so on. Basically, the bad weather helps limit the pritzus.

Personally, I originally heard of the curse in the name of the Brisker Rav (Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin of Yerushalayim). I have since heard of it in the names of the Hazon Ish, Rav Shalom Sharabi, Rav Yosef Haim Sonnenfeld, and Rav Landau. I am sure that it has been said over in the name of other Rabbis as well, so it qualifies for a [insert name of Rabbi here].

Is it true?

I have no idea. No amount of searching has ever come with a definitive answer on the matter.

I have spoken to many people about it and some say it is true and some say it is a bubbe maase. I have even heard some deride such a rumor adding that we often have droughts in Israel, and if not actual drought it is at least less than the needed rainfall. We call for special prayers to be said and we make a big deal of there not being enough rain. Yet one Rabbi supposedly says a few words and it effects tens and tens of years bringing rain. If it is true, they complain, how come these Rabbis do not bring rain the rest of the winter, if it is so easy for them..

The fact is though that in the 16 years I have been in Israel, the weather is always less than pleasant at best on Purim, even if it was nice weather in the days preceding Purim. Sometimes it rains and even storms. It can be windy. Sometimes just a slight drizzle. Sometimes it just changes from sunny to overcast and chilly and that is enough to put a damper on plans. I always pay attention because I am always curious to see how the "curse" pans out..

The current forecast is calling for beautiful weather on Purim. We shall see how it pans out this year.

I heard on the radio today the newscaster was talking to the head weather guy about the forecast. When they got to the weather for Purim the weather man said it was supposed to be nice, but then he added that we cannot predict the weather for Purim. Purim, he said, has its own sets of rules. Predictions are never right for Purim (the track record, some would say, is not that good for the rest of the year either, but that is another story).

The weatherman did not say why Purim "has its own set of rules" and maybe he does not know about the "curse, but it seems even the weather people are aware that the weather on Purim is usually worse....


  1. I'v never heard that tale before, but it makes sense. Hashem has a way of turning things around. I do remember the weather being nice in Yerushalayim when the 'war' ended back in 1991.

  2. It makes sense... the pritzus in public is always worse than the pritzus behind indoors behind closed doors.

    Wait a minute.


  3. I heard it about R' YL Diskin. Maybe check out the meteorological records for every year's Purim... I heard that there has always been at least a bit of rain sometime on Purim, though not necessarily enough to stop the pritzus... unfortunately... I guess there always needs to be room for bechira, to give people the chance to make the right choice.

  4. I can assure you that this holds true where I am. It has rained the last 15 Purims in a row. Then again, that might simply be a side effect of living in Seattle. ;-)

    Purim sameach!

  5. I heard it in the name of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld.
    Either way, there were years when I was in Israel that it didn't rain, nor was it cold.

  6. I also seem to remember a year here and there that it was nice weather...

    I also heard the "curse" was only bnei brak, and I also heard only Yerushalayim.

    Who knows?

    miz - being in Seattle it probably rains every day...

  7. speaking after purim, RBS was nice and hot while Jerusalem yesterday was quite chilly and overcast.


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