Reading the Megillah

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One of the most important mitzvot of the day of Purim is to read or listen to the reading of Megillat Ester. Ester tells the story of how Haman and Achashverosh tried to destroy the Jewish people and Hashem miraculously helped Mordechai and Ester save them. The mitzvah is to read the Megillah or hear the Megillah being read at night and during the day.[1] The details of the Megillah reading are outlined below:

Who's Obligated?

  1. Both men and women are obligated to read the Megillah during the night and during the day of Purim.[2]
  2. Women are also obligated to hear the megilla.[3]
  3. A man who already heard the megilla in shul can still read it for his wife.[4] He should recite all of the berachot before.[5]
  4. There is a mitzvah of Chinuch to teach children (under Bar Mitzvah) to read the Megillah.[6]

Procedure of the Megillah Reading

  1. One can fulfill one's obligation either by reading the Megillah or by listening to the Megillah being read by someone who's obligated to read the Megillah. [7]

The Brachot

  1. The chazan who reads the megilla at night recites three brachot before reading the Megillah and one beracha after completing the reading of the megilla.[8] One should have in mind to cover the other mitzvot of Purim with this shehecheyanu. [9]
  2. The minhag is that women do make a bracha if they are reading the Megillah or the one reading it for women does make a bracha. [10]
  3. The minhag is to roll up the Megillah back into a scroll before reciting the bracha of "Harav Et Riveinu...." [11] Some are lenient for a private reading [12]
  4. According to Sephardim, the bracha of shehecheyanu is not recited during the day.[13] According to Ashkenazim, it is recited during the day.[14] If a Sephardi is davening in an Ashkenazi shul and they recite shehechiyanu during the day of Purim, many authorities hold that he should not answer Amen so that it shouldn't be considered a hefsek.[15] Others hold that it is fine for him to answer Amen.[16]

Sitting or Standing

  1. The reader of the megilla for the congregation should stand during the reading of the Megilla[17] and the congregants may sit during the reading.[18] However, the congregation should stand for the berachot before and after the Megillah.[19]

Hearing it in a Congregation

  1. One should try to find a minyan of ten men to read the megillah.[20] If this is not possible, one should read the Megillah by himself [21]
  2. Some have the pious practice to read from a kosher megillah along with the baal koreh.[22]
  3. One should not hear the reading of the megilla over a microphone.[23]
  4. One should not talk during the megilla reading.[24]

Breaking it Up

  1. Initially one should not break up the megillah and one person should read the whole thing. In extenuating circumstances, it is permitted.[25]

Time of Reading Megillah

Night Time Reading

  1. There’s a mitzvah to read the Megillah once at night and once during the day.[26]
  2. The time for reading the Megillah at night is from Tzet HaKochavim until Olat HaShachar.[27] One should not read the nighttime megillah during Ben Hashemashot except in extenuating circumstances.[28]
  3. In extenuating circumstances, such as might be necessary during corona, it is possible to read the megillah from Plag Hamincha.[29]
  4. If one missed reading it at night there’s no make-up the next day.[30]

Day Time Reading

  1. The megilla can be read any time during the day from sunrise to sunset.[31] If one read it after alot hashachar but before sunrise, he nevertheless fulfilled his obligation.[32]
  2. The time for reading the megillah during the day is from HaNetz HaChama until Shekiah. However, if one read it from Olot HaShachar one has fulfilled the mitzvah. If one didn’t read it until Shekiah, one should read it until Tzet HaKochavim without a Bracha.[33]

Eating before Reading the Megillah

  1. It is forbidden to eat before reading the megillah before by night[34] and by day.[35]
  2. It is permitted to eat a snack, foods or drinks less than a kebaytzeh, before the megillah if it is hard to fast after nightfall until the megillah.[36]
  3. Someone for whom it is very hard and might become sick unless he has a meal may ask someone who remind him to read the megillah and then eat a meal.[37] Sephardim hold that it is permitted to ask someone to remind him to hear the megilla and then eat a snack before the megilla.[38]
  4. The prohibition to eat before megilla applies equally to men and women.[39]
  5. Is it permitted to drink coffee or tea before megillah? Some poskim hold that it is permitted, while others forbid it.[40]

Sleeping or Working

  1. It is forbidden to go to sleep or do work at night before reading the megillah.[41]

If Purim Falls out on Sunday

  1. The Ashkenazic minhag is to say Havdalah after reading the Megillah, while the Sephardic poskim advise saying Borei Me’orei HaEish before the Megillah and the rest of the Havdalah afterwards.[42]
  2. If Purim falls out on Saturday night then one should read the megillah and then say VeYehe Noam.[43]
  3. While most poskim say that a Megillah is not Muktzeh,[44] one should not carry it to the shul on Shabbat in preparation for Motza’ei Shabbat unless one uses it in shul on Shabbat itself.[45] If one needs to bring the Megillah to the shul after Shabbat one should say Baruch HaMavdil Ben Kodesh LeChol.[46]
  4. Even if one’s meal extends into the night one doesn’t add Al HaNissim.[47]
  5. If the congregation didn’t yet say Kiddush Levana then they should say it before hearing the Megilla, however, if only individuals didn’t say it they should wait until after hearing Megilla together with the congregation.[48]
  6. If the congregation did not yet say Kiddush Levana, they should say it before hearing the Megillah.[49]

Traveling Between a walled city and a non-walled city

  1. Someone who lives in Yerushalayim who was in a city outside Yerushalayim during daybreak (Olot Hashachar) of the 14th of Adar should read on the 14th. If he returns to Yerushalayim before the 15th at daybreak, one should celebrate purim again with all it’s details. [50]
  2. Someone who lives in Yerushalayim who travels outside Yerushalayim with intent to return to Yerushalayim after daybreak of the 14th he should read it on the 14th (and again the 15th if he's there at daybreak of the 15th) as long as he was actually outside Yerushalayim at daybreak on the 14th.[51]
  3. Someone who lives in Yerushalayim who travels outside Yerushalayim with intent to return before daybreak of the 14th should read it on the 15th even if he got stuck and didn’t return to Yerushalayim on the 15th.[52]
  4. Someone who lives outside Yerushalayim who was in Yerushalayim during daybreak of the 15th should read on the 15th. However, if he already read the Megillah and celebrated Purim on the 14th in his city (outside Yerushalayim) one doesn’t need to celebrate Purim again.[53]
  5. Someone who lives outside Yerushalayim who travels to Yerushalayim with intent to stay there for daybreak on the 15th should read the Megillah on the 15th even if one leaves on the 15th during the day.[54]
  6. Someone who lives outside Yerushalayim who travels to Yerushalayim with intent to return before daybreak of the 15th should read it on the 14th even if one is forced into staying there.[55]



  1. The Rambam (Megillah 1:1) writes that the mitzvah to read the Megillah is an establishment of the prophets, Midivrei Kabbalah. Tosfot (Megillah 4a s.v. Chayav) writes that the primary reading is during the day when the rest of the mitzvot of Purim should be fulfilled. Nodeh BeYehuda (O.C. 41) writes that the nighttime reading is only derabbanan but not Midivrei Kabbalah.
  2. Megilla 4a, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 687:1, Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 47. In Gemara Megillah 4a, Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi says that women are obligated in reading the Megillah because they were included in the miracle of Purim. Rashi (Megillah 4a s.v. Af) explains that the decree of Haman applied to men and women equally. Tosfot (s.v. Af) quotes the Rashbam who explains that the gemara means that women are obligated because Ester was instrumental in the miracle of Purim. The Rambam (Megillah 1:1) writes that both men and women are obligated in reading the megillah. Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 689:1 codify this as halacha. Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Mishpatim 5781 min 29) quoted the Yalkut Shemesh who said that the Morrocan minhag was that women only listened to the megilla at night and not the day. He expressed his wonderment over that minhag and completely disagreed and thought that women are obligation both during the night and day.
  3. Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 50
  4. Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 51-52
  5. Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 53
  6. Rambam (Megillah 1:1), Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 55
  7. The Rambam (Megillah 1:2) writes that both the one reading the Megillah and the one listening to the Megillah being read by someone who's obligated to read the Megillah fulfill their obligation. Shulchan Aruch 689:2 codifies this as halacha.
  8. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 692:1, Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 65
  9. Mishna Brurah 692:1, Baer Heitev 692:1, Magen Avraham 692:1
  10. Sh"t Yabia Omer O"C 1:40, Sh"t Minchat Yitzchak 3:54
  11. Shulchan Aruch 690:17. Mishna Brurah 690:57 explains that this is because it is disrespectful to leave the megilla open.
  12. Yalkut Yoseph volume 7 page 296
  13. Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 63, Rambam Megilla 1:3, Shulchan Aruch O.C. 692:1
  14. Rama 692:1, Rabenu Tam (quoted in Tosafot Megilla 4a)
  15. Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Mikra Megillah 5784, min 14-16)
  16. Or Letzion 4:54:13
  17. Shulchan Aruch 690:1, Beit Yosef 690 in the name of the Ran
  18. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 690:1, Ben Ish Chai (Year 1 Parashat Titzaveh 4)
  19. Mishna Brurah 690:1, Machatzit Hashekel 690:1, Ben Ish Chai (Parashat Titzaveh 4), Kaf Hachaim 690:2. See Shevet Hakehati 1:212.
  20. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 690:18, Bach 691
  21. Shulchan Aruch 690:18, Mishna Brurah 689:15, Shaar Hatzion 690:64
  22. Rav Schachter (Nefesh HaRav pg 227) writes that Rav Soloveitchik's minhag was to read the megillah to himself from a kosher megillah along with the baal koreh in order to fulfill the mitzvah himself instead of through a messenger. Rav Schachter explains this concept in BeIkvei HaTzoan pg 25.
  23. Daat Torah 689, Sh"t Minchat Yitzchak 1:37 and 3:54. Rav Gedalya Dov Schwartz (Hadarom v. 77 5782) writes that soldiers in Iraq who didn't have any way to be yotzei megilah unless they heard it on the phone could rely on the poskim who allow that.
  24. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 692:2
  25. Rav Schachter (Corona teshuva #56)
  26. Megillah 4a, Rambam (Megillah 1:3), Shulchan Aruch O.C. 687:1. Or Letzion 4:54:14 discusses a person who could only listen to one of the megillah readings, which should he listen to. First, he cites Nodeh Beyehuda 21 who holds that only the daytime megillah reading is Divrei Kabbalah and the nighttime one is derabbanan. However, then he argues the Shulchan Aruch does not distinguish between them. Finally, he concludes that since the night one comes first, he should listen to that one, even though he won't be able to listen to the daytime one the next day.
  27. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 687:1 says that the night reading applies all night, Mishna Brurah 687:1,3 explains that this means that one should read it between Tzet HaKochavim and Olat HaShachar. This is also the opinion of Chazon Ovadyah (pg 47) and Chayei Adam 195:5.
  28. Mishna Brurah 692:14 citing the Pri Megadim. Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 687:4:1 writes that one shouldn't read it until tzet but under extenuating circumstances in 692:32:1 he quotes many including the Meiri who allow reading the megillah during ben hashemashot.
  29. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 678:1, [Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Mishpatim 5781 min 30)], Rav Schachter (Corona teshuva #56). Specifically regarding Yerushalayim reading after plag on the 14th, Yabia Omer OC 1:43 agreed.
  30. Mishna Brurah 687:3, Chazon Ovadyah (pg 48). Chazon Ovadyah cites this from Maharam Ben Chaviv (Kol Gadol 48), Birkei Yosef 697:1, Teshuva Mahava v. 2 p. 45d, and Mey Bear 63.
  31. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 687:1, Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 48
  32. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 687:1, Chazon Ovadia Purim pg. 48
  33. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 687:1 writes that the reading of the day applies all day from HaNetz but after the fact one fulfilled the mitzvah if one read it after Olot HaShachar. Mishna Brurah 687:4,5 explains that the ending time is Shekiah and after the fact one should read it without a Bracha until Tzet HaKochavim.
  34. Shulchan Aruch and Rama O.C. 692:4. Trumat Hadeshen 109 writes that it is forbidden to eat or even have a snack before listening to the megillah at night so that a person doesn't fall asleep and forget to listen to the megillah.
  35. Mishna Brurah 692:15 based on Shulchan Aruch O.C. 652:2, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 692:35:1, Nitai Gavriel Purim 32:1
  36. Magen Avraham 692:7, Mishna Brurah 692:14, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 692:36:1, Nitai Gavriel Purim 32:2, Yalkut Yosef Purim p. 552ת Or Letzion 4:54:2
  37. Mishna Brurah 692:16, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 692:38:1, Nitai Gavriel Purim 32:3. Chatom Sofer 652:2 relies on asking someone regarding eating before shaking lulav.
  38. Yalkut Yosef Purim p. 552
  39. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Piskei Shemuot p. 112 quoting Rav Yosef Shuv), Rabbi Mandelbaum (Blayla Hahu p. 7)
  40. Piskei Shemuot (Purim p. 112) quotes Rav Elyashiv as holding it is permitted to drink tea before megillah. But Rav Nissim Karelitz (Blayla Hahu p. 7) holds that it is forbidden.
  41. Mishna Brurah 692:15, Kaf HaChayim on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 692:34:1
  42. The Kol Bo (45) writes that Rabbeinu Chananeil and the Raavad held that if Purim falls out on Motza’ei Shabbat, one should recite Havdalah before the Megillah. He adds, however, that the minhag of Narvona was to say Havdalah after the Megillah. The Sefer Minhagim (Tirna, Purim s.v. Arvit) and Rama 693:1 write that the minhag is to say Havdalah after the Megillah. The Bei’ur HaGra 693:1 explains that we recite Havdalah after the Megillah in order to delay ending Shabbat as much as possible (see Pesachim 105b). Pri Megadim M”Z 693:1, Mishna Brurah 693:3, and Nitei Gavriel 28:8 agree.
    • Elsewhere, the Kol Bo (41) writes that one should say Borei Me’orei HaEish before the Megillah so that one does not benefit from candle light while reading the Megillah before making a Bracha upon it. He mentions that some others argued that the Bracha of Yotzeir HaMe’orot in Shacharit already exempted them of the obligation to thank Hashem for benefitting from light. The Maharash Halevi (cited by Pri Chadash 693:1) explains that the second opinion understands the bracha of Borei Me’orei HaEish to be in commemoration (zecher) of the creation of fire on Motza’ei Shabbat and not a bracha that permits one to benefit from light. Birkei Yosef 693:1 writes that ideally, one should say Borei Me’orei HaEish before the Megillah and the rest of Havdalah afterwards. Chazon Ovadia (p. 67) agrees.
  43. Rama 693:1, Natai Gavriel (purim 28:8)
  44. The Pri Chadash 688:6 writes that the Megillah should be considered Muktzeh on Shabbat, since there’s a gezeirah not to read the Megillah on Shabbat (Megillah 4b). The Eliyah Rabba 308:10, however, says that the Megillah is no different than any other sefer, and sefarim are not Muktzeh. Natai Gavriel 28:4 agrees. The Mateh Yehuda 688:8 writes that even the Pri Chadash considers it Muktzeh only if Purim actually falls out on Shabbat itself, which, according to our calendar, occurs only for those who celebrate Purim on the 15th of Adar. Kitzur S”A 141:17 agrees.
  45. * Rav Yaakov Emden (Mor U’Ketziah 693 s.v. KeSheChal) writes that it certainly is forbidden to bring the Megillah to shul on Shabbat in order to read it on Motza’ei Shabbat due to the prohibition of preparing on Shabbat for after Shabbat (Hachanah). Kitzur S”A 141:17 and Nitei Gavriel 28:4 agree.
    • The Chayei Adam (155:10), however, writes that while it is proper not to bring the Megillah to shul on Shabbat, strictly speaking it is similar to bringing wine for Havdalah, regarding which the Chayei Adam writes (153:6) that if it is absolutely necessary, one may bring wine for Havdalah if he does so in a way that it does not appear as though one is preparing for after Shabbat. Specifically, he should bring the wine early enough that he theoretically could use it on Shabbat and should carry it in some abnormal way. Mishna Brurah (667:5) agrees.
    • The Chayei Adam explains that Hachanah is violated only if one finished an entire activity but not if one merely is transporting an object that is going to be used later. He bolsters this assertion based on the Magen Avraham (667:3), who says that although one may not set up tables on the 8th day of Sukkot in Chutz LaAretz for Shemini Atzeret because of Hachanah, it is permitted to bring tables in from the Sukkah on the 8th day of Sukkot. Rav Mordechai Willig (Am Mordechai Shabbat p. 177-9) rejects the Chayei Adam’s proof by explaining that the Magen Avraham permitted bringing the tables inside because there was a current need to bring in the tables so that people don’t linger in the Sukkah and appear as if they are adding onto Sukkot.
    • Shaarei Teshuva 693:1 writes that one may carry the Megillah to shul privately on Shabbat if he then uses it on Shabbat. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 28:83 agrees.
    • Rav Hershel Schachter (Eretz HaTzvi p. 57) writes that while Melachot D’rabanan are forbidden during Tosefet Shabbat, Gezeirot D’rabanan are not. Thus, preparing the wine for Havdalah after Tzeit HaKochavim (during Tosefet Shabbat) should be permitted. Chazon Ovadia (p. 107) is lenient even during Bein HaShemashot if it is necessary.
  46. Natai Gavriel 28:7
  47. Natai Gavriel 28:3
  48. Natai Gavriel 49:1, 3
  49. Noda BiYehuda (O.C. 1:41) writes that one should say Kiddush Levana before the Megillah because of Tadir VeSheino Tadir. He explains that the Gemara’s principle that Pirsumei Nisa trumps Tadir (Megillah 3a) applies only if by reading the Megillah first, one will be able to do Pirsumeh Nisa with a bigger congregation than if one were to do Tadir first. However, if the entire congregation can read the Megillah after Kiddush Levana, then it is better to say Kiddush Levana first. Kitzur S”A 97:15 and Nitei Gavriel 49:1 agree.
  50. Shulchan Aruch O.C. 688:5, Mishna Brurah 688:12, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 688:7)
  51. Mishna Brurah 688:12
  52. Mishna Brurah 688:12
  53. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur S”A 688:9)
  54. Mishna Brurah 688:12
  55. Mishna Brurah 688:12