Purim Gifts and Festive Meal
8. One should not perform "melacha" (Torah-defined creative activity (1))
on Purim (2). Whoever works on Purim will never see a sign of blessing
("siman beracha") from that activity (3). One may, however, have a gentile
perform "melacha." Commercial activity (4) ("prak'mat'ya"} is permitted
(5). Similarly, it is permissible to write friendly correspondence, to
record one's accounts and [to write] anything else that does not require
intense concentration ("iyun gadol"). It is also permitted to write
anything associated with a mitzvah or to perform any activity associated
with a mitzvah. Furthermore, it is permitted to perform even full-
scale "melachos" (6) if they are necessary for Purim itself.
(1) The Torah warns against performing "melacha" on Shabbos. The Oral Law
defines the word "melacha" as referring to 39 specific categories of
creative activity, such as planting seeds, kneading dough and construction.
(2) Although originally the Jewish people refused to accept Purim as a
regular "Yom Tov" during which "melacha" would be prohibited, later
generations adopted the "minhag" ("custom") of refraining from "melacha,"
and we are bound by that custom because it was accepted by the entire
nation (Aruch HaShulchan 696:2 and Rama 696:1).
(3) For example, if one planted seeds on Purim they won't grow. Others say
that no loss will occur, but no profit will result (Mishna Berura 696:4).
(4) Such as managing one's store.
(5) Since it is considered a pleasurable activity (Mishna Berura 696:3).
(6) See note (1).