What is the proper time to read the Megilah?

Kriyas haMegilah (reading the Megilah) is a mitzvah m’divrei kabbalah (a mitzvah derived from pesukim in the kesuvim). Reading the Megilah in the daytime is certainly m’divrei kabbalah. There is disagreement about whether the nighttime reading has a similar source or whether it is a mitzvah mid’rabonon. At night, the Megilah is read after tzeis hakocahvimL’chatchilah, it should be read at the beginning of the night, immediately after Ma’ariv. If a person began the Megilah while it was still bein hashmashos, he must repeat it again after nightfall. Another brocha is not recited. Shulchon Aruch rules that the Megilah may be read from plag ha’mincha under pressing circumstances. To be yotzei the nighttime reading, the Megilah must have been completed by alos hashachar.

[שו"ע תרפז, א, ומשנ"ב א-ג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 4-1]

Can the Megilah be read before sunrise?

The day begins with alos hashachar (daybreak). Technically, one may begin the daytime reading of the Megilah at that time. Since the exact moment of alos is not always easy to ascertain (and thus a person might end up reading the Megilah while it is still night), Chazal instituted that the Megilah should only be read after sunrise. B’dieved, if a person read the Megilah once there was light across the eastern horizon, he is yotzei. Under pressing circumstances, a person can even read it l’chatchilah from alos hashachar and onward. The time for reading the Megilah by day extends until sunset. B’dieved, if one did not yet read the Megilah he can read it during bein hashmashos, but a brocha may not be recited.
[שו"ע תרפז, א, משנ"ב ד-ו, ושעה"צ ה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 7-6]

Is there a mitzvah to increase joy in Adar Rishon?

The Gemara states “When Adar arrives, joy increases.” This joyousness is because Adar was a time of redemption. The joyful state lasts the entire month, including the days after Purim. Some poskim say that the practical application of this directive is to try not to enter a state of depression or worry. Others say that there is an obligation to perform positive actions that increase joy. These actions include partaking in joyous meals and assemblies. Some say that a person fulfills a mitzvah with each joyous act. In a leap year, most poskim hold that the joy takes place in the second Adar. Some say that it is customary to be happy in the first Adar as well. Indeed, the Chasam Sofer dated a letter Rosh Chodesh Adar Aleph with the description “a time when we increase joy”.

[משנ"ב תרפו, ח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 26]
  • Ta’anis Esther--the fast of Esther--takes place on the thirteenth day of Adar. It commemorates the fast of the Jewish warriors, who fasted for their success before fighting the Gentiles that wanted to kill them. The fast serves as a reminder that Hashem heeds the tefillos of those who call out to him through teshuva and fasting in their time of need.

  • It is not necessary to be as stringent on Ta’anis Esther as on other public fasts. Therefore, some Achronim say that a pregnant or nursing woman does not need to fast. This contrasts with other fasts, where a pregnant or nursing woman is only exempt if she is feeling weak.

  • Ta’anis Esther is different than other fasts because it was not instituted to commemorate a tragedy. Therefore, it is not a day that one must afflict himself.

  • Can one have a minyan in his home for kriyas haMegilah?

  • Should one leave his shul to join a minyan in a hospital for kriyas haMegilah?

  • Does kriyas haMegilah take precedence over other mitzvos?
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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