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Bavli, M'gila 5 amud 2, cites a doubt as to when the m'gila is read in T'verya: on the fourteenth of Adar, as in most places, or on the fifteenth, as in a city walled since the time of Y'hoshua. The doubt arises because T'verya is walled except for its sea-facing side: is that side considered walled, since it's protected, or not, since it is open to the outside? In fact, as codified in Mishna B'rura 688:9, T'verya reads the m'gila both days, for this reason.

So a sea-facing side is a doubtful wall.

Consider Manhattan. Assume for the sake of argument that it's been an island since the time of Y'hoshua. Then it's been doubtfully walled since the time of Y'hoshua and so should read both days. Yet I've never heard of anyone reading two days in Manhattan — or on any other island.

  • Why not?
    • Is it perhaps because the city must have been inhabited since the time of Y'hoshua? If so, is that rule stated anywhere? I've never heard of it. And then what about the island-city of Kythnos, which has been inhabited that long? If Jews settle there, would they read both days?
  • Do any halachic opinions maintain that islands (that have been islands since the time of Y'hoshua) should read both days?
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I was pretty sure that the doubt(like with Tzefat) was whether it was walled CITY since the time of Yehoshua. Nevermind Chazal having some problems with history(Tveria didn't exist before 20CE). Manhatten certainly wasn't in the time of Yehoshua. For cities that are certain, they don't read on two days, just one(Shushan Purim). – Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 5 '13 at 10:29
There is a custom in Akko to read on both days – Epicentre Apr 7 '13 at 4:12
@Epicentre, there's a list at judaism.stackexchange.com/a/14966. Were you clarifying or correcting something I wrote, or recommending an improvement to my post? – msh210 Apr 7 '13 at 6:38
Clarifying. Akko also has sea (without a wall) on one side. – Epicentre Apr 7 '13 at 8:27
Note also that Manhattan has Wall Street. – Double AA Mar 3 '15 at 19:06

First the doubt is not whether Tiberias was walled, or not, it is a matter of whether Tiberias was settled from before the days of Yeshoshua Bin Nun this seen clearly on page 6a of the same Gemarra(English for those who need it). The Beit Yosef brings this in 688:4. There he brings the Rambam who says the sofek is whether it was walled from the days of Joshua(not whether or not it was walled). He also quotes the Gemarra in question.
The footnotes of the Tur HaMaor(number 1 on that page) say that there is a machloket in the Gemarra as what made the sofek, whether it was the sea as a wall(which is one option). The other option is that Tiberias is another city mentioned as walled(or not) in the book of Joshua. Assuming for now that it is the sea that causes the sofek, natural barriers(such as mountains and other things, which would also be a see) are spoken of in 688:2 of the Shulhan Arukh(as well as the Tur and Beit Yosef). One of the issues we see there is that the natural barrier cannot be more then a mil from what was settled in the time of Yehoshua Bin Nun. See the Mishneh Berurra seif katan 7 for further discussion on the distance. So to answer your question. Manhatten was not settled(by anyone) in the days of Yehoshua Bin Nun. If the Mishnah Berurra didn't consider Europe settled in those days, certainly North America was not either. Kythnos, would technically be possible, if the city covered enough of the island that no edge of it was more than a mil from the Ocean. However looking at maps, it seems to actually a collection of small villages on a rather large island, and thus also would not work.

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I don't see, on 6:1, any indication that whether T'verya was settled is at issue in deciding when to read there; and the g'mara I quoted in the question clearly says that what's at issue is whether it's considered walled. On another note, there's no mention of Jews in MB 688:9. −1. – msh210 Apr 5 '13 at 17:17
They are arguing over which city it is, which means they are not sure whether it is one of cities that is mentioned as walled in Joshua or not. I removed the piece about Jews, because I simply don't have the time to prove it out from the sources. Instead I substituted the Beit Yosef's understanding, and the footnotes of the Tur HaMaor. – Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 6 '13 at 16:56
@msh210 PS when sourcing the Talmud, correct reference is number letter(i.e. 2a, 2b ect). When sourcing Mishnah correct reference is number colon number(i.e. 2:1, 2:2 ect). You don't have to do that if you don't want to, but since it is the agreed referencing both in the Rabbinic and Acadmic scholarly circles, it can be quite confusing when not followed. – Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 6 '13 at 17:14
Re page references, in rabbinic circles it's 2 ע‎"1 (or, I suppose, b ע‎"a, but that seems the less reasonable way to read it). Re distance, I don't see the relevance of the rule of "close" (which determines whether a small city is considered as connected to a large one and can, as you note, be blocked by natural barriers) to here. – msh210 Apr 7 '13 at 1:44
@msh210 Please show any Rabbi who in English writes 2:1 as a page reference for Talmud. Re:disstance, that is the halakha. IF the natural barrier is more than a mil away it does not constitute a wall. – Rabbi Michael Tzadok Apr 7 '13 at 1:54

The island would have needed to be populated at the time. According to wikipedia the city of New York was populated for millenia (although I dont know about Manhattan in particular). Even if it was populated to one degree or another at the time of Yehoshua it might need a certain degree of permanence for it to be considered a city with a water-barrier (such as T'verya which was an established city).

Additionally it is a machlockes Rishonim if cities outside of Israel besides for Shushan can ever read on the 15th.

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I dont have the Rishonim with me but if I recall they are Piskei Tosafos in the begining of the first perek citing Ran citing Tosafos and Chiddushei HaRamban to beginning of the masechta (yes the really long one). – mevaqesh Feb 22 '15 at 16:04
The Bavli never provides a parameter for requisite popukation to be considered a city. I imagine it would be dependent on hash'ara of poskim. – mevaqesh Feb 22 '15 at 16:12
Editing into your answers sources for its various claims would vastly improve it. In particular, your first claim, that the island would need to have been settled, is one I already mention in the question. – msh210 Feb 22 '15 at 16:17
@msh210 it seems to be the obvious unstated assumption throughout the sugyos in Megillah in discussing the parameters of a kracch, an appropriately walled city, that it indeed be a city; not just walls. Also relevant is the discussion of hukaf ul'basof yashav in regards to a water-barrier (I dont have time to find the sources now) but it is a machlockes Rashi Tosafos if hukaf ul'basof yashav is a requirement by Megillah (Megillah 3b). Tosafos there discusses the implications of a sea-wall. The underlying assumption of the Gemara seesms to be that a requirement of a city is yeshiva; settlement. – mevaqesh Feb 22 '15 at 17:09

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