Monday, March 10, 2014

PURIM: Reading Megilat Esther

One of the Mitsvot of Purim is reading Megilat Esther. We should try to understand the meaning of what we read, so we would not just remember the story of Purim but actually re-live it. In this way, we will be more inspired to express our gratitude to haShem for His salvation then and His constant protection today.  

Following, a few Halakhot of Megilat Esther. 

*We read Megilat Esther twice during Purim. The first time at night (this year Saturday March 15th ) and the second time during the day (Sunday, March 16th).

*The custom is to unroll the Megila as an open document (igeret) and then read from it. Once we finish reading it, we first roll it back and then we say the final blessing.  (MT, Megila 2:11).  

*Because the Megila is an igeret, as opposed to a sefer, if the reader makes a mistake we do not need to correct him (en medaqdeqim beqri-atah MT, Megila 2:7). The general custom is that the somekh(=the reader's assistant) would correct the reader only if the mistake he made affects the meaning of the word. 

*When the ba'al qore (=reader) reads the Megila everybody should listen. Normally, everyone follows the ba'al qore reading silently from a scroll or from a printed Megila.

*There is no Halakhic objection to using a microphone when reading the Megila in public, provided the Megila could be heard without the microphone as well, i.e., the sound system is there toamplify the voice of the reader. Listening to the Megila by TV, radio, phone is not enough to fulfill the Mitsva of Megila, even when is a live broadcasting. 

*Women are normally exempted from Mitsvot triggered by time, like Tefilin or Sukka, but listening to the Megila is an exception. Because women were part of the miracle. (i) They were also saved from the danger, and  (ii) it was a woman, Queen Esther, who had the most critical role in saving the Jews from extermination.

*Children are not obligated to listen to Megilat Esther, but they are expected to attend Synagogue during Purim.  Parents should make sure that their small children do not disrupt the reading of the Megila.  

*qera-ah lemafrea' lo yatsa: "If one reads the Megila in a different order, the reading is invalid". This means that if a person reads first verse 2, then verse 1 or so, he did not fulfill his obligation. Practically speaking, if a person comes late to the Synagogue and the congregation is already reading, for example, chapter 4, he cannot say: "I will read now from chapter 4 until the end and then, when everybody finishes, I will read from the beginning till chapter 4". One has to listen or read the Megila in order from the beginning to the end.