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No One Can Hear the Megillah Reading . . .

No One Can Hear the Megillah Reading . . .

May a microphone be used for the reading of the Scroll of Esther?

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Question:

We have a very large congregation, and it is hard for everyone to hear the reading of the Scroll of Esther (Megillah) properly. Because the use of electricity is allowed on the holiday of Purim (as opposed to Shabbat and other major holidays), I was wondering if it would be proper to perhaps have the Megillah read over a microphone. Is it?

Answer:

The obligation to hear the Megillah is to hear the actual voice of the reader—not soundwaves emitted from a speaker system. As such, the great decisors of the previous generation, including the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, ruled that hearing the Megillah over the telephone, radio or a P.A. system is not sufficient.1

So, what can you do? Here are some tips you may want to consider:

  • Hire a reader with a loud voice.
  • Have the reader stand in a place that is central and/or elevated (typically the podium at the center of the synagogue), so that his voice will carry better to the far corners of the sanctuary.
  • Announce before the reading how important it is to hear every word, and that the congregation asks everyone to do their best to remain quiet for the duration of the reading.
  • Suggest that there be several smaller readings, at different times or places.

Wishing you a joyous Purim,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

Footnotes
1.
Likkutei Sichot, vol. 21, pp. 496ff.
Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org.
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Menachem Posner February 18, 2013

RE: hearing aids If the person can make the effort to hear the megillah without the hearing aids - and truly hear it - that would be ideal. A possible option is for this person to read the megillah, since even if they do not hear well, they can hear themselves. If neither option is feasible, it is important to note that there are indeed those who rule that hearing aids are different from microphones, because this person always hears through them.

Since this is a complex issue, before deciding what to do, make sure to speak to *your* rabbi. Reply

Menachem Posner February 18, 2013

To Anon in Camarillo, CA If the two (or even more) readers can read in unison, the reading would indeed be valid (Code of Jewish Law 690:2).

This is the case even though the halachic rule of thumb is that people cannot properly hear multiple voices at once. The sages understood megillah to be different, because people treasure the mitzvah and make the effort to hear it. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, New York via chabadjewishlife.org February 17, 2013

Not to hear the megillah via microphone What about hearing aids? Is it allowed to listen to the Megillah with hearing aids? Reply

Anonymous February 17, 2013

hearing the megillah does this mean that someone wearing hearing aids can never fulfil the mitzvah? Reply

Anonymous Camarillo, CA via chabadcamarillo.com February 17, 2013

Can you have more than one reader? If they read in unison, so that everyone can hear? Reply

dale February 16, 2013

electricity In your response, you did not reply to the use of electricity on Shabbat. I always thought you just couldn't turn it off or on. As an example you can't flush your toilet if you draw your water from a well because by dropping the water pressure you are turning on the electric water pump. Reply

Gershon the Talmid KS February 12, 2013

To Anonymous If you live very far from a congregation, you really have two options:
a. Get yourself a kosher megillah and read it yourself.
b. Pick up and spend Purim with a Jewish community and hear the reading there.

If these are both impossible, and I mean truly impossible, you should read the megillah from a paper book without saying the accompanying blessings. Reply

Menachem Posner February 12, 2013

To Yaakov Beker I suggest that you have a look at Piskay Teshuvot 689:3 for extensive collection of the authorities who prohibit (as well as the dissenting minority who allow) megillah via microphone. Reply

Yaakov Beker February 12, 2013

sources please I appreciate the reference to the exact source from the Rebbe ZT"L, but would also appreciate the references to the other " great decisors of the previous generation," regarding this interesting question. Does anyone have these references?
Thank you. Reply

Anonymous February 12, 2013

Magillah Reading What if you are in a remote area, unable to attend a synagogue but have a recording of the magillah? Reply

SZ Engel February 10, 2013

Wow! Wow, thanks. I never thought of those ideas, even though I never had those questions, but I looked here anyway, and I just went, "wow!"
thanks a lot, chabad.org! ;) Reply