Essential Information for Reading Megillat Esther

NOTES FOR ORGANIZERS 

• In order to fulfill the commandment of hearing the megillah, the megillah must be read from a parchment, called a klaf, and not from a printed text. 

• There should be one or two gabbaiyot standing at the table to help the readers and correct them if necessary. 

• To fulfill the commandment of hearing the megillah, every word of the megillah must be heard correctly. Thus, readers should strive to pronounce each word clearly and correctly and gabbaiyot should correct readers’ mistakes. 

• Listeners should not say “barchu u baruch shmo” when hearing the blessings before or after the reading; they only say “amen.” People can be reminded by an announcement before the blessings. 

• Everyone needs to hear every word of the megillah and there should be no talking between the first and last blessings. 

NOTES FOR READERS 

• The reader should not lean her hands or elbows on the reading table. 

• From careful practice, many readers know their chapters almost by heart, and the reader should be careful to read from the klaf of the megillah and not from memory. 

• Because a word may have been drowned out by over-eager Haman shouters, it is good practice for a reader to repeat the word before and the “Haman” again after the noise subsides. 

• The following verses, due to their importance, are first read out loud in their entirety by the congregation and then repeated by the reader. The reader should pause before the verse, wait for the congregation to finish reading it and then read it herself and continue. 

Chapter 2, verse 5:                                        איש יהודי היה בשושן הבירה... 

Chapter 8, verse 15:        ...ומרדכי יצא מלפני המלך 

Chapter 8, verse 16:  ...                                     ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה 

Chapter 10, verse 3:       כי מרדכי היהודי...                       

• In chapter 9, it is customary for the names of the ten sons of Haman to be read in one breath. But the reader should take care not to slur the names, to ensure that all the words will be heard properly. 

• There is a historical alternate tradition among some Ashkenazim as to the correct text of Chapter 8 verse 11 and of Chapter 9 verse 2. To satisfy both traditions, readers following the Ashkenazic tradition generally read these words both possible ways. In our megillah reading, we have repeated the phrase which contains the controversial word immediately after reading it the first time:

Chapter 8, verse 11: v’l’harog or l’harog     
להקהל ולעמד על-נפשם להשמיד להרוג ולאבד  (alternate reading) 
להקהל ולעמד על-נפשם להשמיד ולהרוג ולאבד  (dominant tradition)

Chapter 9, verse 2: lifneihem or bifneihem       
 ואיש לא-עמד בפניהם  (alternate reading) 
  ואיש לא-עמד לפניהם (dominant tradition)   

• There are certain verses for which there are alternate tunes to the traditional Esther melody. A number of verses which either allude to or refer explicitly to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple or the destruction of the Jewish people are read in the tune of Eicha(Lamentations). 

The following verses or phrases can be read in the Eicha tune. Communities differ as towhich phrases they choose to read in this way: 

Chapter 1, verse 7: phrase:                                 וכלים מכלים שונים 

Chapter 2, verse 6:                             ...            אשר הגלה מירושלים 

Chapter 3, verse 15: phrase:                               והעיר שושן נבוכה 

Chapter 4, verse 1:              ...            ומרדכי ידע את-כל-אשר נעשה 

Chapter 4, verse 3: phrase to end of verse:  ...  אבל גדול ליהודים 

Chapter 4, verse 16: phrase:                                        אבדתי אבדתי 

Chapter 8, verse 6:                                        ...              כי איככה אוכל 

In the app, all of the above verses are chanted in the tune of Eicha.

• The name of God is not mentioned anywhere in the Megillah and some commentatorssuggest that each time the text of the megillah reads “hamelech” (the king) without thename of Ahashueros, it is an allusion to God. There is a Hasidic custom to liturgicallyemphasize the word “hamelech” in the first verse of chapter 6. This verse marks God’sawakening in the megillah, since it is the beginning of Haman’s downfall, when Ahashueros enlists Haman to honor Mordechai.    

  ...בלילה ההוה נדדה שנת המלך 

• Some sing chapter 8, verses 15-16, each of which is read first by the congregation andthen repeated by the reader, in a more festive tune than the traditional Esther trop torecognize the joyousness of Mordechai’s rise to power and the salvation of the Jews. In our version we have read it using the traditional trop.  

• Some have the traditiol to read the final verse of the megillah in an alternate tune that leads into the tune of the final blessing. We have read it with the traditional trop instead of the alternate melody.