As a result of the Coronavirus, many people will have to read the Megillah at home alone. We have spoken about this yesterday and now, we shall discuss some more relevant laws.
Hearing Megillah Via Zoom
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that it is quite clear that sounds heard over a microphone system, and certainly over the phone or internet, are not the human voice of the person talking and is merely a new, electronically-generated sound. That being the case, one who hears the Megillah being read by phone, life stream, “Zoom”, and the like has not fulfilled one’s obligation at all. One should not rely on such a Megillah reading no matter what.
One Who Cannot Procure a Kosher Megillah
If one is in quarantine and cannot procure a kosher Megillah under any circumstances, Hagaon Harav Chaim Palagi zt”l writes in his Sefer Ruach Chaim that one should at least read the Megillah from a printed Chumash or Megillat Esther. It goes without saying that one may not recite a blessing on such a reading since this is not a kosher Megillah. (Chazon Ovadia-Purim, page 98)
Hallel for One Who Does Not Have a Megillah
The Gemara (Megillah 14a) discusses why it is that we do not recite Hallel on Purim as we do on Chanukah. The Gemara explains that, in essence, reading the Megillah on Purim is itself a form of Hallel, for the Megillah discusses all the wonders and miracles Hashem performed for us in those days during this time. The Rambam and other great Rishonim rule likewise.
Based on this, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Kluger zt”l writes in his Responsa Shenot Chaim (Chapter 336, numerical value of “Purim”) that one who does not have a Megillah on Purim should indeed recite Hallel as we do on Chanukah, for such a person has not read from a kosher Megillah as per the enactment of our Sages. Several other Acharonim write similarly. Indeed, this idea can be found on the works of the Meiri (one of the great Rishonim) that one who does not have a kosher Megillah on Purim should recite Hallel. Nevertheless, Maran Ha’Chida writes in his Birkei Yosef (Chapter 693) that since most Poskim did not mention this law, it seems that Hallel is never recited on Purim.
Halachically speaking, Maran zt”l rules that one who does not have a kosher Megillah and is reading out of a printed Megillah should recite the complete Hallel without a blessing. The reason for this is because there is another opinion in the Gemara for why we do not recite Hallel on Purim and it has nothing to do with the reading of the Megillah. Thus, although this individual does not have a kosher Megillah and it would seem like he is obligated to recite the Hallel, it is nevertheless still a doubt, and thus, one should recite the Hallel without a blessing. (ibid. page 97)
Commemoration of the Half-Shekel
During these days, there is a prevalent custom among the Jewish nation to donate money to Tzedakah Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a has ruled that the appropriate sum to donate is approximately $8 or 26 NIS per person. If one’s financial situation does not allow one to donate as much, one may donate half a dollar or a half Israeli shekel per person, at the very least.