Don’t Miss a Word

I see many people in synagogue who bring their own Megillah scrolls for the reading. Is there any reason for that? I mean, shouldn’t they be quietly listening to the reader the entire time? Isn’t the reader’s scroll sufficient?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Very good question, first of all! Yes, everyone present for the reading of the Megillah should be silently listening to the reader. One of the rabbinically-ordained mitzvot of Purim is to recite the Megillah, both at night and at day (Talmud Megillah 4a), and this must be done from a kosher scroll (Mishna Megillah 2:1). We fulfill our obligation by listening to the reader in the synagogue. Even someone who has his own scroll should preferably hear the Megillah from the reader rather than recite it himself. The codifiers learn this from the verse “in a great multitude is the glory of the King” (Proverbs 14:28; see Mishna Berura 687:5). It is a much greater sanctification of God and publicizing of the miracle of Purim telling over the story in a large crowd rather than for a single person to recite it himself.

So why do many try to bring their own scroll? In case they miss a word. We are obligated to hear every word of the Megillah. What happens if a person loses concentration or cannot hear a few words from the reader as a result of noise – especially as a result of the children banging at Haman’s name during the reading? Technically, a person can read up to half the words of the Megillah from his own (printed) edition if he missed them (Mishna Berura 690:7). However, ideally, he should read every word from a scroll. Therefore, people will generally bring a scroll if they own one. In case they miss a word, they will be able to make it up from a kosher scroll.

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