Halacha for Tuesday 7 Adar 5780 March 3 2020

Reading Megillat Esther Amid a Large Congregation

It is a Mitzvah to read the Megillah on Purim in a synagogue amid a large congregation, for this publicizes the miracle in a most glorified manner.

The Poskim discuss a scenario where an individual is ill and homebound and requests that ten people join him at home to form a Minyan for Megillah reading. Are they expected to go to his home or should the individual read the Megillah on his own? The root of this question lies in the fact that the individual fulfills his obligation to read the Megillah even without a Minyan whereas the Minyan joining him at home will need to do so at the expense of reading the Megillah in the synagogue with a large congregation. This question has ramifications in many other areas of Halacha as well.

Hagaon Mishnah Berura (Chapter 687, Sha’ar Ha’Tziyun, Subsection 10) writes that a respected man who always has a Minyan praying with him at home should relocate his Minyan to the synagogue on Purim for the Megillah reading since this will serve to publicize the miracle even more. Based on this, it would seem that it would be a detriment for these people to form a Minyan in the sick man’s home on Purim since they will be missing Megillah reading in the synagogue.

Nevertheless, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a writes (in his Yalkut Yosef- Purim, Chapter 687) that since this situation involves the precious Mitzvah of performing acts of kindness, it seems that this Mitzvah takes precedence over the stringency of hearing Megillah reading in the synagogue amid a large congregation so that the ill individual does not need to read it alone. He quotes the ruling of the Responsa Michtam Le’David (Chapter 15) who was asked by some people whether or not they should participate in a Minyan in a mourner’s home lest they forfeit the Mitzvah of praying in the synagogue and they claimed it may be a “Mitzvah resulting from sin.” He wrote back to them that the should “rest assured that there is no semblance of prohibition here at all.”

He proceeds to write that the Mitzvah of performing acts of loving-kindness is an especially precious Mitzvah, as described in the following scenario. One community secured a set of the Four Species for the Sukkot holiday. The neighboring community did not have any of the Four Species at all. They sent a message to their neighbors that since they did not have a set at all, if it would be at all possible that they could have the Four Species at least for Chol Ha’Moed (the intermediate days of Sukkot). Were the community that owned the set to comply with the request of the neighboring community, they would only have their set for the Mitzvah for the first day of Sukkot but they would not have it available at all for use during Chol Ha’Moed. The Michtam Le’David (Chapter 6) replied that although the Mitzvah of taking the Four Species during the days of Chol Ha’Moed is not a biblical Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of  performing acts of kindness is and certainly there is no greater kindness than allowing the neighboring community to perform this Mitzvah at least for some of the days of Sukkot. He therefore ruled that they should forgo their Mitzvah and send over the set of the Four Species to the neighboring community for the duration of Sukkot.

Based on the above, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a rules that these individuals should forgo the stringency of reading the Megillah in the synagogue and go to the ill person’s home to read the Megillah with him and gladden him. May Hashem grant us the merit of celebrating the joyous holiday of Purim amid health, peace, and goodness.

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