PURIM 5757 FAQs
I. RECITATION OF THE BLESSING OVER THE MEGILLAH
1. Although it is proper to hear the Megillah in a minyan, if one is reading from a kosher Megillah without a minyan blessings before Megillah are recited. The blessing after the Megillah, however, is not recited unless there is a minyan.
2. If a man is reading the Megillah, for another man who has not yet fulfilled his obligation, the reader may recite all of the blessings on the latter’s behalf and the reader may do so as many times on Purim as his services are needed. This is because of the principle of kol yisrael arevim ze l’ze – each Jew is responsible for the spiritual welfare of the other. Again, however, the brachas after the Megillah may not be recited without a minyan.
3. If a woman is reading the Megillah for another woman or if a woman is reading the Megillah for herself, the bracha before the Megillah should not be “al mikra” megillah (on the reading of the Megillah) but “lishmoa” megillah (on the hearing of the Megillah).
4. If either a man or woman who has already heard the Megillah is rereading it for the benefit of other women, it is proper for all the women who have not yet been yotzee to recite the blessings. In the alternative, one of the women who was not yotzee can recite the blessing for the other women who were not yotzee. Again the bracha they recite should be “lishmoa” megillah and, in the absence of a minyan of men, the blessing after the Megillah is not recited. (If having one or all of these women reciting the blessings poses some difficulty, the Mishna Berurah does allow the baal korai – man or woman – to say the blessings again for the benefit of the women who were not yet yotzee).
5. Note: Unless one is ill or infirm, one should not eat or drink before hearing the Megillah. This is true both for the evening and morning readings.
II. RECITATION OF THE ASSERES B’NAI HAMAN
The Gemora in Megillah 16b tells us that the recitation of the ten sons of Haman should be done is a single breath (neshima achas) to signify that they died simultaneously. Our custom is to also include the immediately preceding words (v’es chamesh ma’os ish) and the following word(asseres). In many communities, first the congregation recites this list in one breath and then the reader does so. The famed Rogotchover Gaon, R.Yosef Rozen, offered an intriguing explanation for this custom based on an analysis of the halachic concept of shomai’a k’oneh.
Although there is a mitzvah (albeit a rabbinic, not Torah) to read the Megillah, most of us fulfill our obligation through listening to someone else read it for us. This is calledshomai’a k’oneh (hearing the recitation is equivalent to reciting) and is a concept that we employ for kiddush, havdala, ha’motzi etc. Whenever a mitzvah requires recitation as opposed to action, vicarious recitation suffices, provided there is the requisite intent both on the part of the reciter and the listener to have their obligations fulfilled in this way. Note that this applies only to commandments of recitation; I cannot wear tzitzis for you or take lulav for you or put on tefillin for you. I can recite kiddish, havdala, ha’motzi and even bentching for you. (Shofar poses somewhat of a problem, however, since the blowing of shofar appears to be an act, not a recitation so how could one person do it for another? Here, too, however, the blowing of the shofar may be regarded as a form of prayer – crying- and as such falls within the parameters of shomai’a k’oneh.)
The Rogotchover posits that although hearing is as good as reciting, i.e., it is halachically regarded as a form of recitation, when the recitation requires some additional attribute, hearing alone cannot suffice.
Thus, for example, one cohen cannot recite bircas kohanim for another because although hearing is as good as reciting, a recital via hearing does not meet the requirement that bircas kohanim be recited b’kol ram (audibly). While it may be true that the reciter said it audibly, the other person did not. His hearing may be as good as a recital but it certainly cannnot be equivalent to an audible recital which in the case of bircas kohanim (unlike in the case kiddush, havdala, bircas ha’mazon) is an independent halachic requirement. The same is true for the recitation of asseres b’nai Haman. Yes, my hearing it from the baal korai is halachically equivalent to a recitation but it fails to satisfy the requirement that the recitation be in one breath, thereby necessitating each person to say it themselves.
Note: Notwithstanding this ingenious explanation, the Mishna Berurah rules that only the baal korai needs to recite the list.