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Is a Kosher Megillah Necessary?

הרב שי טחןג אדר ב, תשפד13/03/2024

Should you have a Kosher Megilah when hearing the reading of the megilah

Many wonder why some people have a kosher Megillah scroll if they're going to hear the Megillah reading from the Baal Kore’. The simple answer is that if one
indeed listens attentively and can hear every word from the Baal Kore’, they may not necessarily need the physical scroll of the Megillah. The problem arises when one misses a word due to noise, tiredness from the long day, sitting too far from the Baal Kore’, or any other reason. Sitting far from the person reading is particularly common among women, who are also obligated in the Mitsva of Megillah just as men are.

If one missed even one word from the reading of the Baal Kore’, they may not have fulfilled the Mitsva of Megillah reading(רשב״א סימן תסז ור״ן מגילה יח, א) . The remedy for such a scenario is to read from the Chumash that one has in front of them and then read until they catch up with the Baal Kore’. Doing it this way will be considered as if they heard the Megillah, but only Bedieved. However, many people can't catch up with the Baal Kore’, in which case they may not fulfill the Mitsva at all. To avoid such a situation, one can have a kosher Megillah and follow along. They may then either read it in a whispering sound or read just the word they missed and catch up with the Baal Kore’. In both cases, they would fulfill the Mitsva properly.

Therefore the Mishna Brura(סימן תרפט ס״ק יט והגר״ע יוסף בחזו״ע פורים עמוד עט) says that one should try to have a kosher scroll Megila.

Another advantage of owning a kosher Megillah is that you can recite the bracha yourself, rather than hearing it from the Baal Koreh(בן איש חי תצוה הלכה יא חיד״א בברכי יוסף סימן רצה סק״ה) . When saying the blessing over a kosher Megillah, one should have the intention in their heart not to fulfill the blessing they hear from the Baal Koreh.

The Beit Yosef(סימן תרצ) from the Rashba(ח״א סימן תסז ותשכז) explains that while one who holds a Chumash should not read from it, as he may attention to his reading which isn't kosher rather than hearing it from the Baal Koreh, someone who holds a kosher Megillah may read it quietly to himself while the Baal Koreh reads it aloud.

Can an Ashkenazi hear the Megillah from a Sephardi, or vice versa? The poskim permit this, since the Megillah may even be read in languages other than Lashon Hakodesh(גרי״ש אלישיב ספר יבקשו תורה עמוד קל) . However, this reading is considered bedieved(חזו״ע עמוד פ ותשובות והנהגות ח״א סימן תא) . Therefore, if one finds themselves in such a scenario, they should quietly read from their own Megillah in order not to interrupt others while the baal koreh is reading with their syllable.

Another issue with following from a Chumash is that people tend to ‘space out’ or ‘dream’ during part of the reading since it is so long. The Poskim (גרי״ש אלישיב באשרי האיש פרק מג ה״ז) write that by doing so we miss hearing some words which then we won’t fulfill our obligation.

At some large shuls, they use a microphone when reading the Megillah to ensure everyone can hear the reading. However, there is a machloket among authorities regarding whether hearing the Megillah through a microphone is considered valid. Therefore, someone who must be at such a place should also read along from a kosher Megillah.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach(הליכות שלמה פרק יט ה״ד) pointed out that during the reading, there are portions where the congregation reads loudly ahead before the baal kore, who then repeats those sections. The rabbi suggests that one who is reading from a Chumash must intend not to fulfill their obligation through this reading, as it would then be considered as if they read from a non-kosher Megillah, but instead wait to hear it from the baal kore’. Thus, reading from a kosher Megillah would resolve this issue.

Needless to say, the Megillah comes in very handy for those who can't go to shul. For example, if one doesn't feel well or lives in an area without a reading, or if one missed the reading for some reason. This is especially relevant for women, who may sometimes give birth and don't have anyone to read for them. In places where they can't make it to the reading, their husband can read it for them.
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