One of the primary mitzvot of Purim is reading the Megillah. In many ways, this mitzvah resembles the communal reading of the Torah (which is performed more than 200 times a year); the Megillah is written by a sofer (scribe) on parchment in Ashuri script, blessings are recited before and after the reading, and more. Indeed, the bulk of the Talmudic discussion of the Torah reading is couched within the tractate Megillah.

Let’s focus now on one significant difference: Specific blessings are recited before and after reading from the Torah. The Megillah reading, however, is preceded by three blessings, and the after-blessing is only said if a minyan is present.

In the year 5716 (1956), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, addressed one detail of this law:1

The Rambam writes:2

Upon completing the reading [of the Megillah], roll it up and recite the blessing.

Some understand the above sequence as being precise, that one should roll up the scroll before reciting the blessing. Three reasons are given for this:

a) It is disrespectful for the Megillah to remain open unnecessarily once the reading is over.3

b) The blessings recited before the Megillah reading are a requirement, whereas the after-blessing is a minhag (custom). In order to differentiate between the two, we deliberately make a pause by rolling the scroll closed.

(This is similar to how we say Kaddish to separate between the seven portions of the Torah reading and the additional Maftir reading.4 )

c) The Talmud5 says that the Torah scroll should be closed when reciting the Aliyah blessings, so as to avoid giving the impression that the blessings are written in the scroll. Accordingly, the Megillah should also be closed prior to the recital of the after-blessing, to make it clear that the blessing is not found in the Megillah.

Not withstanding the above, others opine that one may choose to leave the Megillah open until after saying the concluding blessing.6 Why are they not concerned with the three abovementioned reasons?

a) Regarding the contention that it is disrespectful to leave the Megillah open whilst reciting the blessing:

True, this brachah doesn’t address the Megillah reading per se, but it was certainly instituted to be recited following the Megillah reading. Therefore, it is no disgrace to the Megillah; to the contrary it honors the Megillah.

A parallel to this can be seen with the Haftarah, when we specifically leave Haftarah text open during the blessings that follow!

b) Differentiation between the mandatory reading and the customary blessings:

Just like the blessing after Megillah is (merely) a custom, so is the post-Hallel blessing.7 Yet we make no effort to demarcate between it and the actually Hallel.

c) Not to imply that the blessing is part of the text:

All agree that the Megillah is already open when we say the pre-reading blessings, indicating that (for whatever reason) this is not a concern.8

Additionally, the concern that people may think the blessing is part of the Megillah would only be reason for the reader, who is saying the blessing, to close his scroll—not for everyone else to do so as well.

What is the Chabad custom?

Unfortunately, the section on Purim of the Shulchan Aruch hoRav was never published and appears to have been lost for good. So how would he rule? There are two clues:

  1. In the Siddur he compiled, he does not instruct that the Megillah be rolled up before the blessing.
  2. As a general rule, he often followed the rulings of the Magen Avraham. Presumably, he would follow the same policy here too, therefore allowing the Megillah to remain open until after the blessing.

The benefit of leaving the Megillah open can also be understood on a deeper level:

The Megillah radiates a tremendous spiritual light:

As is well known, G‑d’s name is not mentioned explicitly anywhere in the Megillah. Some commentaries9 point out that the name Achashverosh alludes to G‑d, as it can be broken up into acharit (“end”) and reishit (“beginning”), reflecting G‑d as He is totally higher than any form of expression. This explains the absence of any G‑dly names in the Megillah; this is due to the manifestation of a G‑dly level that is way beyond description by a name.

This Divine energy is particularly manifest when the Megillah scroll is open. The after-blessing talks about G‑d fighting our battles and vanquishing the forces that oppose holiness. Having the Megillah open for the recital of this blessing adds to the efficacy of the prayer expressed in the blessing. May we see this coming to fruition speedily in our days, with the coming of Moshiach.