Checklist of Megillah reading:
Summary of Laws
For the full details of each law, please refer to its relevant section within the book!
- The month of Adar:
- Marbim Besimcha: One is to increase in joy throughout the month of Adar, starting from the first day of Rosh Chodesh Adar. One is to rejoice himself, his wife and children during this month similarly to that which is done on Yom Tov. Included in this Mitzvah is increasing in all matters that give one joy. Foremost one is to add in spiritual matters of joy, which is increasing in learning Torah, especially the inner dimension of Torah, and the scrupulous fulfillment of Mitzvos. One is to add in Simcha on every day of the month of Adar. This includes even the days after Purim, in which one is to increase his joy from one day to the next. During a leap year, the Mitzvah to increase in joy applies also in Adar Rishon.
- Court Case: One is to endeavor to have a court case involving a non-Jew arranged for the month of Adar.
- Zayin Adar: Moshe Rabbeinu was born and passed away on this day. One is to increase in joy on this day. Some are accustomed to fast. This is not the Chabad custom. However, one should increase in charity on this day in exchange for the fast. Some do not say Tachanun on this day. On a leap year, Moshe’s birthday and Yartzite are [Halachicly] commemorated on the 7th of Adar I. However, the spiritual aspect behind the auspicious day applies to both 7th of Adar I and 7th of Adar II.
- The four extra Parshiyos: 1. Shekalim 2. Zachor 3. Para 4. Hachodesh. Parshas Shekalim is read on Shabbos Mevarchim Adar or, when applicable, on Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Adar.
- Parshas Zachor is a Biblical obligation and is read on the Shabbos before Purim.
- One must have in mind to fulfill the Biblical Mitzvah with the hearing of the reading.
- One reads first Zeicher and then Zecher.
- Many women have the custom to come to Shul for Parshas Zachor.
- Some say Parshas Para is a Biblical obligation. Women are not obligated to hear it. Parshas Hachodesh is always read the Shabbos following Parshas Para.
- Leap years-Birthdays, Bar Mitzvahs and Yartzites: Birthdays and Bar-Mitzvas are celebrated in the second Adar, unless one was born in Adar I. Some have received a directive from the Rebbe to celebrate the birthday twice, in Adar I and Adar II. One commemorates a Yartzite in the first Adar unless the person passed away in Adar II. [Some are stringent to commemorate the Yartzite also in the second Adar.]
- Purim Katan: Tachanun is omitted on the 14th and the 15th of Adar Rishon. It is likewise omitted during Mincha of the 13th, which is Erev the 14th. The psalm of “Lamnatzeiach…Yancha Beyom Tzara” is omitted during Shacharis. It is forbidden to give a eulogy on the 14th and the 15th of Adar Rishon. One may visit the grave of a relative, such as for the end of Shiva; Shloshim; or a Yartzite, however eulogies may not be given. It is forbidden to fast on the 14th and the 15th of Adar Rishon. One does not recite Al Hanissim. One is to increase in festive meals on the 14th. This applies even in Jerusalem. One is to invite guests and the meal is to include singing, as well as telling over praise of G-d for the miracle. One is to also increase in meals on the 15th, as concludes the Rama “Tov Leiv Mishteh Tamid”. The meal is to be eaten during the day, as is the law regarding the Purim feast.
- Taanis Esther
- The 13th of Adar is an accustomed fast day. When Purim falls on Sunday, the fast takes place the previous Thursday, the 11th of Adar.
- The fast begins at Alos Hashachar of the day of the 13th of Adar. This is approximately two Zmaniyos hours prior to sunrise. If one slept [even on the couch] and then woke up prior to Alos he may not eat, unless he stipulated prior to going to sleep that he plans to eat after awaking before Alos. He may however have a drink, even if he did not stipulate before going to sleep, although initially it is proper to stipulate before going to sleep even if one only plans to drink and not to eat.
- One who is sick or is experiencing a great amount of pain is exempt from fasting on Taanis Esther. Pregnant and nursing women are exempt from fasting on Taanis Esther. Children are not required to fast, even for a few hours. However they are not to be given sweets and the like, although one is not required to stop them from eating it if they are in the midst of doing so.
- The Mahril would not give a class on Taanis Esther in order so people are able to properly prepare for Purim.
- One does not rinse his mouth, brush his teeth, or use mouthwash, during a fast day, unless he feels extreme discomfort.
- Selichos is recited after Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis. When reciting Selichos without a Minyan one omits the 13 attributes of mercy, and the parts in Aramaic.
- Avinu Malkeinu is recited after Selichos.
- The Chazan recites Aneinu in his repetition of Shacharis. It is not recited by anyone in the silent Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis. At Mincha everyone says Aneinu in Shemoneh Esrei.
- Prior to Mincha one is to give Igara Ditaanisa to charity. [The fast “tax” which consists of the money worth of meals saved by fasting. This money is given to charity.]
- The Torah is read by Mincha with a Haftorah and is returned to the ark after Yehalelu, prior to the half Kaddish.
- Birchas Kohanim is recited in the Chazan’s repetition of Mincha. In Jerusalem, Nesias Kapayim is performed if Mincha is taking place past Plag Hamincha.
- Tachanun and Avinu Malkeinu are omitted by Mincha, with exception to when Taanis Esther is pushed up to Thursday.
- It is forbidden to eat or drink after the fast until the conclusion of Megillah reading. In a time of great need one may eat a small snack and have a drink.
- The Half Shekel: The half Shekel donation is given on Erev Purim prior to Mincha. When Purim falls on Sunday, the half Shekel is given on Taanis Esther, which is on the previous Thursday. However in Jerusalem and other walled cities it is given on Sunday. One is to give three half coins to charity. Each coin is to be half of the currency amount used in one’s country. Hence in the Unites States that the currency is one dollar, one is to give three half dollar coins. In Israel that the currency is one Shekel, one is to give three half shekel coins. [Some Poskim however rule that if one has the ability, he is to give a half coin which contains real silver and is worth at least the monetary value of the half Shekel in the times of the Temple. As of January 2015 one gram of silver was worth $.57 for a total of $5.47 for the half silver Shekel.] The custom is for the father of the house to give three half coins on behalf of each member of his family, including his wife and small children [both male and female], and including even for the fetus of a pregnancy. It is best to give the children money for them to fulfill the Mitzvah themselves. One may donate the money to a Shul or for other Mitzvah purposes.
- Mincha of Erev Purim that falls on Shabbos: If Erev Purim falls on Shabbos, Tzidkascha Tzedek is omitted from Mincha of Shabbos.
The Rebbe’s Mivtza Purim:
Every person is to place effort in influencing the Jews in his surroundings, including the children, to perform the Mitzvos of Purim. One is to prepare a Megillah reader, someone to read the portion of Amaleik; Mishloach Manos; coins for Matanos Laevyonim, for the Mivtzaim on Purim. Upon distributing the Mishloach Manos one is to tell the receiver to switch it with another person in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Mishloach Manos. It is proper to also distribute a small summary of the necessary laws of Purim. One is to bring a charity box to those areas that paupers are not found and then later distribute it to paupers in ones area. One is to encourage the people on Purim to study Torah and educate their children to learn Torah. Just like the Mishloach Manos is to be only be given from woman to woman similarly the spiritual encouragement should only be give from woman to woman.
- The Date of Purim
- All cities known today celebrate Purim on the 14th with exception to Jerusalem.
- Doubtful cities: Due to doubt, the following cities celebrate Purim also on the 15th: Akko; Gaza; Bagdad; Beiriy; Beis Shean; Damascus; Gush Chalav; Haifa; Hebron; Eiyn Zeiton; Lod; Ramlei; Shechem; Tiveria; Tzefas; Yafo; Yericho. They are to read the Megillah on both the night and day of the 14th and 15th [for a total of four readings]. However a blessing is only recited when reading the Megillah on the 14th and not on the 15th. They are to rejoice [in having a festive meal], give presents to the poor, [send Mishloach Manos, and say Al Hanisim] on both days. This applies equally to both men and women. The Davening on the 14th follows the order of Purim Davening. However on the 15th they are not to recite Ata Kadosh in Maariv, and by Shacharis they are not to take out a Torah scroll for the Amalek reading.
- Traveling to Jerusalem on the 15th and traveling outside Jerusalem on the 14th
- Lives in a city of 14th and traveled to a city of 15th [Jerusalem]:
Scenario A – Plans to leave the city which celebrates on the 15th before Alos of the 15th: One who lives in a city that celebrates on the 14th and traveled on the 13th, or the night of the 14th, to a city that celebrates on the 15th, then if his intentions at the time of travel were to be out of that city by Alos of the 15th, then he celebrates Purim on the 14th. This applies even if upon arriving to the city he changed his mind and decided to stay in the city past Alos of the 15th. Thus he is to celebrate and read Megillah on the 14th in the walled city that celebrates on the 15th.
Scenario B – Does not plan to leave the city which celebrates on the 15th until after Alos of the 15th: One who lives in a city that celebrates on the 14th and traveled on the 13th, or the night of the 14th, to a city that celebrates on the 15th, then if his intentions at the time of travel were to stay in that city until after Alos of the 15th, then he celebrates Purim on the 15th together with the inhabitants of the city. This applies even if he returned to his city on the 15th, nevertheless he is to read Megillah in that city which celebrated on the 14th.
- Lives in a city of 15th [Jerusalem] but traveled to a place of 14th:
Scenario A – Plans to leave the city which celebrates on the 14h before Alos of the 14th: If he lives in a city that celebrates on the 15th and has traveled to a city that celebrates on the 14th, if his intentions at the time of travel were to be back in the city of the 15th by Alos of the 14th, then he does not celebrate Purim on the 14th. This applies even if in the end he was required to stay in the city past Alos of the 14th. Thus he is to celebrate and read Megillah on the 15th in the un-walled city and he does not celebrate on the 14th.
Scenario B – Does not plan to leave the city which celebrates on the 14th until after Alos of the 14th: One who lives in a city that celebrates on the 15th and traveled on the 13th, or night of the 14th, to a city that celebrates on the 14th, then if his intentions at the time of travel were to stay in that city until after Alos of the 14th, and he in truth remained in the city until that time, then he celebrates Purim on the 14th together with the inhabitants of the city. This applies even if he returned to his city on the 14th, nevertheless he is to read Megillah in that city on the 14th. This applies even if he intended to return to Jerusalem prior to Alos of the 15th.
- If one celebrated on the 14th and then traveled to Jerusalem, arriving before Alos of the 15th, is he obligated to celebrate Purim a second time on the 15th? Some Poskim rule he is obligated to celebrate also on the 15th. Others rule he is not obligated to celebrate again on the 15th. Practically one is to read the Megillah without a blessing on the 15th. This ruling applies even in a case that one is originally from Jerusalem, and celebrated Purim on the 14th, and then returned to Jerusalem before of the 15th.
- May one who celebrated Purim on the 14th read Megillah for one who celebrates on the 15th? One who celebrated Purim on the 14th cannot read the Megillah, and thus fulfill the obligation, for other people who celebrate on the 15th.
- May one who lives in Jerusalem, and will celebrate Purim on the 15th, read Megillah for one who celebrates on the 14th? One who lives in Jerusalem and will thus celebrate Purim on the 15th cannot read the Megillah and thus fulfill the obligation for other people who celebrate on the 14th. If, after the fact, one who celebrates on the 15th read the Megillah for others on the 14th, they have fulfilled their obligation.
- May one who celebrated on the 14th, and made himself obligated to also celebrate on the 15th, read Megillah for others on the 15th? This matter is disputed in Poskim. Practically one is not to read the Megillah for others due to this dispute. This ruling applies even in a case that one is originally from Jerusalem and celebrated Purim on the 14th and then returned to Jerusalem before of the 15th.
- The Purim attire
- One should wear Shabbos clothing throughout the day of Purim [starting from the previous night].
- It is accustomed to wear costumes on Purim. Children are accustomed to wear crowns on Purim and those who do so are blessed.
- It is accustomed on Purim to allow males to wear the clothing of females and vice versa. However many Poskim challenge this custom and thus practically one is not to do so. Some write it is to be avoided even by children. If it is recognizable that the person is a man or woman, and he or she merely wears a single clothing of the opposite gender, there is room to be lenient.
- Many Purim costumes contain Biblically forbidden Shatnez and according to all may not be worn. This is especially found in army costumes from Eastern Europe.
- When Purim falls on Motzei Shabbos one must wait until Shabbos is over prior to changing into costumes. This applies likewise to children. Some Poskim rule that one is not required to recite Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh Lechol prior to switching clothing. However one is obligated to say it prior to doing any actual Melacha, such as placing makeup and the like. It is however proper for men to not do any Biblical Melacha until the conclusion of Maariv, even after reciting Baruch Hamavdil.
- Al Hanissim:
- One is to recite Al Hanissim both by night and day. It is recited within Birchas Hamazon during the Birchas Haaretz and within Shemoneh Esrei by Birchas Modim.
- If one did not recite Al Hanissim in Shemoneh Esrei he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation and is not required to repeat the prayer. If he remembered before reciting Hashem’s name in the blessing of “Hatov Shimcha” then he is to return and recite Al Hanissim. This applies even if he already said Baruch Ata but did not yet say Hashem’s name. If however one has already recited Hashem’s name then he may not go back. In such a case there are opinions which say that if one has not yet concluded his prayer he is to recite it prior to the last Yehyu Leratzon said prior to taking three steps back.
- If one did not recite Al Hanissim in Birchas Hamazon he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. If he remembered before reciting Hashem’s name in the blessing of “Al Haaretz Veal Hamazon” then he is to go back to Al Hanissim. If however one has already recited Hashem’s name, then if one has not yet concluded Birchas Hamazon, he is to recite “Harachaman Hu Yaaseh Lanu Nissim Viniflaos Kemo Sheasa Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bezman…Bimeiy Mordechai”, in the orders of Harachmans which are recited.
- If one began eating a meal during the day of Erev Purim and ended the meal at night, after Purim has begun, then if he ate a Kezayis of bread after nightfall he is to recite Al Hanissim in Birchas Hamazon. If the Purim meal extended into the night of Motzei Purim one is to nevertheless recite Al Hanissim in his Bentching. If one Davened Maariv prior to Bentching he no longer says Al Hanissim in Bentching.
- Al Hanissim is not recited on the 15th which is Shushan Purim [in areas that celebrated on the 14th]. Nevertheless if one accidently recited it on the 15th he is not required to repeat the prayer.
- The inhabitants of Jerusalem which celebrate Purim on the 15th are to recite Al Hanissim only on the 15th and not on the 14th. The inhabitants of a city which celebrates Purim on both the 14th and 15th due to doubt are to say Al Hanissim on both days.
- Purim Night:
- Maariv on Purim night: In Maariv Shemoneh Esrei we add Al Hanissim. We do not announce All Hanissim prior to Shemoneh Esrei and rather, upon the Chazan reaching Al Hanissim, he is to recite the first words aloud. After the Amidah, a complete Kaddish with Tiskabel is recited. The Megillah reading is begun after Kaddish. After the Megillah reading, Ata Kadosh is recited, followed by a complete Kaddish without Tiskabel. It is not our custom for the Baal Korei to wear a Tallis at night, although some are accustomed to do so. When Purim falls on Motzei Shabbos, after reading the Megillah, the congregation recites Vayehi Noam prior to Veata Kadosh. Havdala is recited after the Megillah reading [and conclusion of Maariv]. Vayiten Lecha is recited [after Havdala].
- Eating prior to Megillah Reading: It is forbidden to eat prior to hearing the Megillah at night. This applies even if it is difficult for one to continue fasting Taanis Esther until the end of the Megillah reading. However in a time of great need [such as one who feels very weak due to the fast or one who is sick] one may eat a small snack prior to hearing the Megillah. The definition of a snack is up to 55 grams of bread or 55 grams worth of an alcoholic drink prior to hearing the Megillah.
- Purim festivities after Maariv and Megillah: Upon returning from Shul one is to be greeted at home with a lit and set table. One is to celebrate with a festive meal, in ones Shabbos clothing. However, being this is not the main meal of Purim, one should save the more festive delicacies for the main meal the next day. Many Poskim rule one is to eat the accustomed Zaronim [grains and legumes] specifically on the night of Purim, after the fast. The Mitzvah of drinking wine on Purim is to be fulfilled during the day, by the Purim meal. However some sources imply that one is to fulfill the Mitzvah of “Lebesumei” also by the night of Purim.
- Tachanun in Kerias Shema Sheal Hamita: Tachanun is omitted from Kerias Shema Sheal Hamita. This applies for both the nights of the 14th and 15th. Marital relations is permitted at night.
- Purim day
- Waking early: One is to wake up early on Purim morning to go to Shul.
- Eating prior to Shacharis: It is forbidden to eat [not drink] prior to hearing the Megillah day reading just like it is forbidden to eat prior to the night reading. It is an act of piety to completely fast until after one hears the Megillah reading, just like it is an act of piety to fast prior to hearing the Shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah and shaking the Lulav on Sukkos. In a time of great need [such as one who feels very weak or one who is sick] one may eat a small snack prior to hearing the Megillah. The definition of a snack is up to 55 grams of bread or 55 grams worth of a drink prior to hearing the Megillah. Nursing or pregnant women may eat a regular meal prior to the Megillah reading. This especially applies if she is waiting on her husband to come home in order to read the Megillah for her.
- Shacharis: Shacharis follows a normal weekday Davening until Shemoneh Esrei. In Shemoneh Esrei one adds al Hanissim in the Amidah. Tachanun is omitted. After the chazzan’s repetition of the Amidah, half Kaddish is recited followed by the Torah reading of the portion of Amaleik from Parshas Beshalach. One reads first Zecher and then Zeicher in the Torah reading. If one did not hear Parshas Zachor he should have in mind by the current reading to fulfill this Biblical Mitzvah. After the Torah reading, half Kaddish is recited which is followed by Hagba and Gelila. The Torah scroll remains held until after the Megillah reading and Ashrei/Uva Letziyon/Kaddish Tiskabel. The Megillah is read immediately following the reading of the Torah and the recital of the half Kaddish. One is not to remove his Tefillin until after Megillah reading. This applies even if one already finished Davening and is hearing the Megillah after Davening. The Megillah is read while still wearing the Rashi Tefillin. One who has not yet given Machatzis Hashekel is to do so prior to the Megillah reading. Upon reciting the blessing of Shehechiyanu by the day reading it is proper to have in mind to include also the mitzvah of the festive meal and Mishloach Manos, and according to some also Matanos Laevyonim. After the Megillah reading the prayer proceeds with Ashrei, Uva Letziyon, complete Kaddish Beis Yaakov, Shir Shel Yom etc.
- It is stated in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that on Purim one is to awaken early and bequest Hashem with prayer and supplication on all matters that pertain to his life, family, and livelihood. This is similar to Yom Kippur which is a day of prayer and so too Purim is a day of auspiciousness for one’s prayer to be accepted.
- Mincha: Mincha is to be Davened early on Purim day. The Purim meal is eaten after Mincha.
- Beginning the review of the laws of Pesach: One is to begin reviewing the laws of Pesach on Purim, the 14th of Adar.
- Working On Purim: The accepted custom is to refrain from working on Purim. One who does work on Purim will not see blessing from that work. The definition of work is any action which takes a lot of one’s attention. Thus, those matters which can be done without much concentration are permitted to be done. One may buy and sell on Purim being that this is considered a joyous activity. All Mitzvah related activities may be done. Thus, one may write Halachic rulings. One may do any action or work, even if it takes much of one’s attention, if it is needed to be done for Purim. One may not cut his nails on Purim. It is disputed whether one may cut his hair. It is forbidden to do laundry on Purim. It is permitted to do work on Purim in order to prevent a loss.
- Megillah reading:
- Who is obligated in the Megillah reading? Every Jew is obligated in the Megillah reading. This obligation includes women. Children [boys and girls, who have reached the age of Chinuch], are to be educated to hear the Megillah once by night and once by day. [Very small children are not to be brought to shul if they will disturb and make noise.]
- When is it read? One is obligated to read [or hear] the Megillah both on the night of Purim and again the next day. One may fulfill his obligation of reading the Megillah at night, anytime throughout the night of Purim. One may begin reading the Megillah at night starting from nightfall [Tzeis Hakochavim]. In a time of need one may read the Megillah starting from Plag Hamincha of Erev Purim [1 hour 15 Zmaniyos minutes before sunset]. It may be read anytime throughout the night up until dawn [Alos Hashachar]. One may fulfill his obligation of reading the Megillah at day, anytime throughout the day of Purim. One may begin reading the Megillah during the day starting from sunrise. Initially one is to hear Megillah after Davening Shachris, as was the institution of the Sages. It may be read throughout the day up until sunset. If one read the Megila before sunrise, then if it was past Alos one has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. One who has not heard the Megillah by the time sunset has arrived is to read the Megillah, without the blessings, up until nightfall.
- Reading the Megillah in the local Shul with the congregation: One is to strive to arrange a Minyan for Megillah reading. One is to join the local Shul’s Minyan for Megillah reading even if a Minyan is available in someone’s house and the like. One is to bring his entire family, wife and children, to the Minyan.
- Unrolling the Megillah and folding it like a letter prior to the reading: The Megillah is to be unrolled and folded into three parts, like a letter, prior to beginning the blessings over the Megillah. It is to remain completely folded until the reading is complete. The Chabad custom is to begin rolling it back up only after the after blessing has concluded. This applies to both the Baal Korei and as well to any of the listeners that have a Kosher Megillah. One must beware that the unrolled Megillah does not touch the floor in the process.
- The Blessings: Three blessings are made prior to the reading both by night and day. The blessings are Al Mikra Megillah, 2. Sheasah Nissim 3. Shehechiyanu [both by night and day]. Upon reciting the blessing of Shehechiyanu by the day reading, it is proper to have in mind to include also the mitzvah of eating the festive meal and Mishloach Manos, and according to some also Matanos Laevyonim. After completing the reading, if there is a Minyan, the custom is to roll up the Megillah and then say the blessing of Harav Es Riveinu. The Chabad custom is to say this blessing before rolling up the Megillah. The after blessing of Harav Es Riveinu is not recited if a Minyan is not present. After the Megillah reading and final blessing, one needs to say the paragraph of Shoshanas Yaakov.
- By a reading in which only woman are fulfilling their obligation, the wording of the first blessing is Lishmoa Megillah .לשמוע מגילה
- Reading the Megillah for others after fulfilling one’s obligation: If one already heard the Megillah reading, he may still read the Megillah and recite the blessings on behalf of others. Nevertheless, if the person who is listening to the reading is able to say the blessings himself or herself, then it is best they do so rather than one say it for them. When reading the Megillah for only women listeners, each woman is to say the blessing to herself prior to the reading, or have one woman say it aloud for everyone to hear and fulfill their obligation. If the women are unable to recite the blessing, the Baal Korei may do so for them. By a reading in which only woman are fulfilling their obligation, the wording of the first blessing is .לשמוע מגילה Upon saying the blessings one should have in mind to fulfill the obligation of the congregation. Likewise, the congregation should have in mind to fulfill their obligation of hearing the Megillah. One may read the Megillah for others even if a Minyan is not present. However the blessing of Harav Es Riveinu is only recited if there is a Minyan present.
- Is the Megillah read sitting or standing? By a public reading, the reader must stand out of honor for the congregation. The listeners are not required to stand during the Megillah reading. The blessings must be recited in a standing position.
- Refraining from talking during the reading: Once the blessing has been recited, it is forbidden to speak from that point and on until the reading is completed and the final blessing is recited. This applies for both the reader and the listener.
- One who missed a word or part of the reading? The reader must read every word of the Megillah. If he skipped a verse, or even one word, or even one letter, he and the congregation do not fulfill their obligation. The same applies for the listener; if he did not hear even one word, or even one letter, he has not fulfilled his obligation. [One must thus repeat the reading. Nevertheless one is not to repeat the blessing prior to the reading.] Some Poskim rule that if one was thinking of other matters while hearing the words then it is considered as if he did not hear those words. One who reads the Megillah in the wrong order does not fulfill his obligation. Thus if one skipped a [letter, word or] verse and continued reading, he must go back to the skipped verse [word or letter] and read the rest of the Megillah from that point until the end.
- Following along in a Kosher Megillah or Chumash: It is best for every person who can afford it, to purchase a Kosher Megillah and read along silently with the reader. Those that are reading along in a Kosher Megillah together with the Baal Korei are to verbalize the words silently. One who does not have a Kosher Megillah available is to read along in a Chumash or printed Megillah. One who is following along in a non-Kosher Megillah, or in a Chumash, is not to verbalize the words, and is rather to follow the reading silently in his thoughts. If one missed a word from the Chazan he must verbally read that missed word. He must continue reading the missed word until he catches up to the Chazan’s reading, in which case he is to stop verbalizing the words and listen to the reading.
- How to read: The Megillah is to be read straight from beginning to end without interval. One is not to delay more than one breath between each verse. However one is to delay slightly between each chapter.
- Correct pronunciation of the reading: It is not necessary to be particular in the pronunciation of the words. However if the mistake changes the meaning of the word, he must repeat that word in the correct pronunciation. If there is no one available that knows the Taamim, but there is someone who knows the punctuation, then the Megillah is to be read without Taamim, with a blessing. If they do not want to read the Megillah without the Taamim they can appoint another person to read quietly from a Chumash with the correct Taamim, and have the reader repeat the words with the correct Taamim. If there is no one available that knows the correct punctuation, the Megillah is to be read without a blessing. In such a case one can appoint another person to read quietly from a Chumash to the reader of the Megillah, and the reader repeats the words with the correct punctuation. [In such a case a blessing is recited on the reading.] Nevertheless, in such a case the reader of the Chumash is to repeat the reading for himself from a Kosher Megillah. [Alternatively, someone is to read along in a Chumash and correct the reader in all cases of mispronunciation and in such a case a blessing may be recited.]
- Stomping and noise making by the name of Haman: It has become the custom to bang and make noise when Haman’s name is read in Shul. The custom of stomping the feet by Haman was seen done by the Rebbe Rayatz.
The Chabad custom is to only “strike Haman” in those areas that the name Haman is written together with a description, such as Haggagi [the descendant of Agag] or Hara [the wicked]. During the stomping, the Chazan is to remain silent and not continue the reading of the Megillah. Due to the noise level made during the recitation of Haman, each person is to read one or two verses to himself from a Megillah or Chumash, just in case the Chazan has already continued reading and one is unable to hear.
- The following verses are repeated out loud by the congregation: It is accustomed for the congregation to read four verses of redemption aloud. These four verses are: Ish Yehudi; Umordechai Yatza; Layehudim Haysa Ora; Ki Mordechai Hayehudi. The Chazan must repeat these verses aloud after the congregation concludes their recitation.
- Raising the voice by Balayla Hahu: The reader is to raise his voice when he reads the words Balayla Hahu.
- The ten sons of Haman: One must read the ten sons of Haman in a single breath. The custom is for the congregation to first read the ten sons to themselves and then have the Chazan repeat it. The reader must be careful upon reading the words in one breath, that he verbalizes every single word of “Vies” from within the Megillah and not from memory. Furthermore, each word of Vies is to be read from the word written corresponding to that son’s name, and he is not to read it from one of the former or latter words of “Vies”.
- Lahraog/Lifneihem: In the Megillah [8:11] we read “Laharog ule’abeid” and repeat “Vileharog ule’abeid”. In [9:2] we read “V’ish lo omad bifneihem” and then repeat “V’ish lo omad lifneihem”.
- Shaking the Megillah: The Megillah is rustled at the mention of the words “Ha’igeres hazos” [9:26] and again at “Igeres haPurim hazos hasheinis” [ 9:29].
- Elongating the Vav of Vayzasa: One must elongate the pronunciation of the Vav.
- Reading each word from the Kosher Megillah: The reader must [initially] read the entire Megillah [i.e. every word] from a Kosher Megillah. Initially the Megillah used for the reading must be complete and not have any words [or even letters] missing or unreadable. Nonetheless, in the event that words are missing, the Megillah remains Kosher if all the following conditions are met:
- The Megillah is not missing the first or last verse.
- The missing words do not omit an entire episode of the Megillah.
- The missing words or letters do not exceed half of the Megillah.
- It is not missing the ten sons of Haman.
- Mishloach Manos:
- Who is obligated to send Mishloach Manos? Both men and women are obligated in the Mitzvah of sending Mishloach Manos. Men send to men and women to women. Married women are to be stringent to give Mishloach Manos on behalf of themselves, in addition to the Mishlaoch Manos sent by their husband. All family members must send their own personal Mishloach Manos and cannot rely on their parents, even if they are still being supported by them and live in their home. Children above the age of Chinuch are likewise to be educated to give Mishloach Manos. If one is in doubt as to whether the child has reached the age of Chinuch one is to be stringent. A mourner is obligated to send Mishloach Manos however he is not to send foods of festivities, such as sweets and superfluous delicacies. Rather he is to send meat [and simple foods of the like].
- When is it to be sent? Mishloach Manos must be sent on Purim during daytime. It is best to give Mishloach Manos after Shacharis in order so the blessing of Shehechiyanu count also for this Mitzvah. One who sent Mishloach Manos on the night of Purim does not fulfill his obligation. Likewise, one who sent Mishloach Manos on Motzei Purim does not fulfill his obligation.
- How many people is one to send to? One is to send to at least one person. One who sends to more than one person is praised for doing so.
- Who should the gifts be sent to? The gifts may be sent to any Jew whether wealthy or poor. However, men should only give to men and women to women. However, Matanos Laevyonim may be given from a man to a woman and vice versa. One may not send gifts or Mishloach Manos to a mourner.
- What gifts is one to send? One needs to send at least two gifts of meat or other foods to one person. Both foods sent must be ready to eat without any further preparation. Sending a drink with a food is also valid. One may not send clothing or money, as only foods are considered valid gifts. Sending raw meat is invalid as it is not ready to eat. Today the custom is to send sweets as Mishloach Manos. There is no requirement that the gifts be of two different blessings. If possible, each food should contain a Kezayis [by foods] or Revius [by beverages]. If this is not possible it is proper that both foods together contain a total of a Kezayis. At the very least each gift is to be worth at least one Peruta. One who does not have what to send is to switch his meal with his friend and by doing so he fulfills the obligation.
- Must one send the gifts through a messenger? Practically, the custom is to send the gifts through a messenger. The custom is to appoint one’s children to deliver the Mishloach Manos and Matanos Laevyonim in order to educate them in Mitzvos.
- Matanos Laevyonim:
- The Mitzvah: Every Jew is obligated to give at least two presents to two paupers, [one present to each pauper].
- Who is obligated? Both men and women are obligated in the Mitzvah of Matanos Laevyonim. Married women are to be stringent to give Matanos Laevyonim on behalf of themselves, in addition to the Matanos Laevyonim sent by their husband. All family members must send their own personal Matanos Laevyonim and cannot rely on their parents, even if they are still being supported by them and live in their home. Children above the age of Chinuch are to be educated to give Matanos Laevyonim. If one is in doubt as to whether the child has reached the age of Chinuch one is to be stringent.
- May men distribute Matanos Laevyonim to female paupers and vice versa? The gifts may be sent to any Jew whether male or female. Thus a man may give to a woman that is a pauper and vice versa. It is permitted for even food to be given as Matanos Laevyonim from a man to a woman and vice versa.
- When on Purim is one to distribute the Matanos Laevyonim? Matanos Laevyonim is to be given on Purim during daytime. One who sent Matanos Laevyonim on the night of Purim does not fulfill his obligation. [Based on Kabala it is to be given after the Megillah reading, as opposed to beforehand. However others write it is to be distributed before Davening.] One may send Matanos Laevyonim to a pauper before Purim if the charity will arrive to him on Purim. If however it will arrive before Purim, one does not fulfill his obligation.
- To how many paupers must one give present? One is obligated to give at least two presents to two poor people, one present to each pauper. It is a greater Mitzvah to increase in giving Matanos Laevyonim than to increase in Mishloach Manos.
- What must one give each pauper and how much must it be worth? The present should initially consist of something which can be readily used by the pauper, such as food or money. One is obligated to give one present to each of the two paupers. Some rule that as long each present contains the equivalent of a peruta worth he has fulfilled his obligation. However other Poskim rule that the present must contain a minimum worth of three Kibeitzim of food [165 grams]. Meaning, if one gives money, it must be enough money for each pauper to buy three Kibeitzim worth of food. If he gives food than each present given must consist of three Kibeitzim. Practically one is to be stringent like this latter opinion.
- Who is a pauper? Practically, anyone who cannot afford today’s normal monthly expenses is considered poor and may be given Matanos Laevyonim. Likewise, anyone who has extra necessary expenses that he cannot afford, such as heavy medical bills, or the marrying off of children, is considered poor in this regard.
- What is one to do if there are no paupers available? If there are not any [Jewish] paupers available in one’s vicinity to distribute to them Matanos Laevyonim, then one is to set aside the money and give it to a pauper when the opportunity presents itself.
- Distributing charity on Purim to all those that request: One is not to be particular regarding distributing Purim money. Rather all those that spread open their hand to request donations are to be given.
- Purim Seuda:
- It is a Mitzvah to eat a lavish and festive meal on Purim. This Mitzvah is a Biblical command, as rejoicing on Purim is from the words of Scripture which has the same power as the words of Torah. One fulfills his obligation through eating even a single meal on Purim day.
- When? It is an obligation to eat one festive meal on Purim during daytime. One does not fulfill his obligation with a meal eaten the previous night, and certainly not with a meal eaten on Motzei Purim. Customarily, it is eaten after an early Mincha. One is to beware to eat the majority of the meal while it is still day.
- Learning prior to meal: Prior to commencing the meal, one should learn words of Torah, as this protects him from any damage occurring to him during the meal. [It is proper to learn Mishnayos from Tractate Shekalim before the meal, and Tractate Megila after the meal.]
- The menu: It is a Mitzvah to have delicacies and festive foods eaten during this meal. It is best to wash on bread for this meal. It is a proper custom to bake bread on Erev Purim so one have fresh bread available, just like is the custom on Erev Shabbos. It is disputed whether it is an obligation for one to eat [animal] meat during the Purim meal however according to all it is a Mitzvah to do so. One is to eat grains and legumes, in commemoration of the Zaronim which Daniel ate in Bavel. It is customary to eat a triangular shaped pastry filling called Haman-Tashen. One is to gather his family and friends for the Purim Seuda as it is not possible to rejoice alone.
- Getting drunk: Men are obligated to get drunk [on wine] on Purim to the point they cannot differ between “blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman”. Some rule there is no need to drink alcohol to this point, and it rather suffices to drink slightly more than the norm and then sleep. Whichever opinion one decides to follow, whether he drinks more or drinks less, his intentions are to be for the sake of heaven. In some Sichos the Rebbe applied the decree to Purim as well. In other Sichos the Rebbe said the decree does not apply to Purim. After a thorough analysis of each source it seems the Rebbe’s opinion leans to apply the decree to Purim as well. [Practically each person is to seek advice with his Asei Lecha Rav, and whichever one does he should do so for the sake of heaven.]
- The Mitzvah of drinking wine is to be fulfilled during the day, by the Purim meal. Seemingly one is to reach this state prior to sunset, as is the time frame of fulfillment for all of the Mitzvos on Purim. One fulfills his obligation with any form of alcohol. Nevertheless it is best to get drunk on wine, as the main miracles of Purim took place through wine.
- Birchas Hamazon: In the grace after meals one adds Al Hanissim. If the meal extended into the night one is to nevertheless recite Al Hanisim in his Bentching. If one Davened Maariv prior to Bentching he no longer says Al Hanissim in Bentching. [Thus one is to avoid Davening Maariv prior to Bentching in order so he be able to Al Hanissim.] If one forgot to say Al Hanissim and has finished Bentching he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation and does not need to repeat Birchas Hamazon. If he remembered before reciting Hashem’s name in the blessing of “Al Haaretz Veal Hamazon” then he is to go back to Al Hanissim. If however one has already recited Hashem’s name, then if one has not yet concluded Birchas Hamazon, he is to recite “Harachaman Hu Yaaseh Lanu Nissim Viniflaos Kemo Sheasa Laavoseinu Bayamim Haheim Bezman…Bimeiy Mordechai”, in the orders of Harachmans which are recited.
- May one Daven Maariv or Bentch if he is drunk? One may say all blessings even if he is very drunk to the point he cannot speak before a king. Initially one is to recite Birchas Hamazon prior to becoming drunk to the point one cannot speak before a King. If one did not do so, then [if he became satiated from the meal] he is to bentch even in a very drunk state. It is only forbidden to Daven under the influence of alcohol if: One drank to the point he cannot walk straight or feels extremely under the influence. If one consumed more than a Revius and feels slightly tipsy then he must Daven within a Siddur.
- One is obligated to slightly increase in joy and festivities on Shushan Purim. However on the night of the 15th there is no need for those which celebrated Purim on the 14th to increase in festivities. However many have the custom to do so. Furthermore, many scrupulous Jews increase in festivities and festive meals on Shushan Purim even more than on Purim itself.
- Tachanun is omitted on the 15th in all cities.