A person is obligated to hear the reading of the Megillah – once at night and again the next day. (Shulchan Aruch 687:1)
Men, women, and children (who have reached the age of education – age six) are required to hear the Megillah.
The Megillah is read twice – first at night, and again the next day.
Immediately before the blessings are recited, an announcement should be made that the reader has in mind to fulfill the congregation’s obligation, and likewise they should have in mind to have their obligation fulfilled.
Those listening to the Megillah can sit throughout. Though when read in public, the Baal Koreh (person actually reading the Megillah) must be standing. In private, the Baal Koreh may read either standing or sitting.
If a woman reads the Megillah, she should say as the first blessing, “Lishmo’ah Mikrah Megillah.” The blessings should be said standing, even when reading for an individual. If one accidentally omitted the blessings, he has still fulfilled his obligation to hear Megillah.
When the “Sheh-hecheyanu” blessing is said in the daytime, one should have in mind that it includes the mitzvot of Matanot La’evyonim, Mishloach Manot, and the Purim meal.
The entire Megillah must be read from a kosher scroll, written with proper ink, parchment, markings (sirtut), etc. One who recites the Megillah by heart has not fulfilled his obligation.
The custom is to make noise at the mention of Haman’s name, to comply with the command to wipe out the remembrance of Amalek (Devarim 25:17-19). Parents should be careful that children do not make so much noise that others are unable to properly hear the Megillah reading.
If at all possible, every single word of the reading should be heard from a kosher Megillah. Therefore, the reader should wait for the noise to subside after reading Haman’s name before continuing.
Unless one is following along from a kosher Megillah, he may not read along with the reader, but should listen quietly and follow in a printed book. After the fact, if a word or sentence is not heard, it may be read from a printed book or said by heart. Of course, it is forbidden to speak during the reading.
Written by Rabbi Shraga Simmons.
Rabbi Shraga Simmons is the co-founder of Aish.com, and co-author of
“48 Ways to Wisdom” (ArtScroll).