Halacha for Tuesday 5 Adar II 5779 March 12 2019

Arriving Late to or Skipping Some Portions of the Megillah Reading

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is written in the chapter of Tehillim (Psalms) called “Lamnatze’ach al Ayelet Ha’Shachar” and the Gemara in Yoma (29a) refers to Queen Esther as the “Ayelet Ha’Shachar”. Therefore, we derive laws from this chapter regarding the Megillah which was co-authored by Mordechai and Queen Esther since they were the ones to institute the reading of the Megillah on the day of Purim.

Listening is Like Reading
However, since not everyone is an expert in Megillah reading along with the fact that not everyone owns a kosher Megillah written on parchment, we customarily fulfill our obligation of Megillah reading through the law of “one who hears is tantamount to one who recites.” This means that one who hears another person reading from a kosher Megillah fulfills one’s obligation and it is as though one has read the Megillah himself. Therefore, when the Chazzan reads from a kosher Megillah while having in mind to read on behalf of the congregation and the congregation has in mind to fulfill their own obligation as well by listening, it is considered as if they have actually read the Megillah on their own.

Speaking During Megillah Reading
During the time when the Megillah is being read, one may not interrupt by speaking at all until after the blessing at the conclusion of the Megillah reading has been recited. One who did indeed speak during Megillah reading while the Chazzan carries on with the reading of the Megillah does not fulfill his obligation and his status is like one who missed a portion of the Megillah reading, as will be explained later on.

One should listen carefully to the reading of the Megillah and one should exercise special care not to miss hearing even one word from the reading of the Megillah, for according to many Poskim (including the Rashba, Ran, and others), if one misses hearing even one word of the Megillah, one has not fulfilled one’s obligation.

One Who Misses a Portion of the Megillah Reading
However, if it happens that one missed hearing a few words of the Megillah because of noise and the like, one may read those words from within the Megillah one is holding, even if it is not a kosher Megillah; rather, even if it is a printed one, one should quickly read the words one missed until one reaches the place where the Chazzan is currently reading, at which point one should once again remain silent and listen to the Chazzan’s reading. (One will fulfill one’s obligation as long as one has heard most of the Megillah reading from the Chazzan and has only read a minority of it on his own from the printed Megillah in one’s hands).

One Who Arrives Late to the Synagogue
If one arrives late to the synagogue and realizes that the Chazzan has already recited the blessing preceding the reading of the Megillah, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a, writes (in his Yalkut Yosef-Chapter 687) that it is preferable for one to go home and read the Megillah with its appropriate blessings as opposed to hearing the Megillah being read with the congregation but without its blessings. Certainly though, this ruling applies only when one is capable of reading the Megillah at home; however, if one cannot, one should merely hear the Megillah being read by the Chazzan. If the Chazzan is already several verses into the Megillah by the time one arrives at the synagogue, one should read these verses quickly to himself until one catches up to the place where the Chazzan is at which point, one should be silent and listen to the Chazzan. However, this is likewise contingent upon the fact that one hears most of the Megillah being read by the Chazzan, as we have explained above.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Praying Shacharit Early

By Popular Demand: When is it permissible to begin praying Shacharit? Many individuals must arrive at their places of work at a very early hour in the morning and would like to know when the earliest possible time to pray Shacharit is. Answer: Preferably, the time to pray Shacharit is from sunris......

Read Halacha

Praying for Spiritual Matters- Rabbeinu Moshe Alshich zt”l

We have quoted in the past Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l’s words regarding one of the “Harachaman” texts customarily recited in Birkat Hamazon, “May the Merciful One sustain us in permissible ways as opposed to forbidden ones,” that although our Sages teach us ......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Counting the Omer

The Torah states (Vayikra 21, 15): “And you shall count for yourselves, from the day following the Shabbat, from the day the waved Omer offering is brought, seven complete weeks shall they be.” Our Sages (Menachot 65b) have a tradition that the “day following the Shabbat” ref......

Read Halacha

Personal Requests During the Amida Prayer- Maran zt”l’s Behavior

Question: May one add one’s own personal requests into the Amida prayer? What is the correct custom regarding this matter? Answer: Our Sages (Berachot 34a) discuss whether or not one may add personal requests into one’s Amida prayer and said, as follows: “One may never ask for o......

Read Halacha


Inserting Personal Requests in the Amida Prayer on a Constant Basis

Question: You have written in the Halacha Yomit that one may insert personal requests into the blessings of the Amida. Is this permitted even on a constant basis, i.e. adding personal requests in one’s Amida prayer every day? Answer: Indeed, it is permissible to add personal requests into t......

Read Halacha

Using Sifrei Kodesh (Holy Books) For an Alternate Purpose

Question: May one place one Sefer on top of or lean it against another Sefer so that it is easier to read from the Sefer? Answer: Some have the custom to take one Sefer, such as a book of Mishnayot, and lean it on an angle against another Sefer, such as a Siddur, so that it easier to read from th......

Read Halacha

The Way to Have One’s Prayers Accepted

Question: What does it mean that one should “not make one’s prayer established”-our prayer services are established three times daily? Also, is there any special advice for how one can have one’s prayers accepted? Answer: Regarding the first question, let us quote the Mish......

Read Halacha

Searching for and Renouncing Chametz

The Laws of Searching for Chametz On the eve of the Fourteenth of Nissan, which will fall out this year (5779) tonight, Thursday night, one must search for Chametz by candlelight. The candle must be made of wax (or congealed paraffin oil, common nowadays) as per the enactment of our Sages. If one ......

Read Halacha