Can the Megilah be read before Purim?

A person who will be traveling on Purim and will not have access to a Megilah may read the Megilah before he leaves, starting from the eleventh day of Adar. If he will be traveling before the eleventh, some hold that he can even read the Megilah from Rosh Chodesh. Since the Megilah is being read before the proper time, he must read with a minyan for pirsumei nisa. The minyan in this case can be comprised of minors. A brocha is not recited on this reading. Under all circumstances, Mishloach Manos, Matanos L’evyonim and Seudas Purim must take place on Purim itself. If the traveler ends up procuring a Megilah on Purim, he should read it again with a brocha.

[שו"ע תרפח, ז, משנ"ב כ ו־כב, שעה"צ לג, וביה"ל ד"ה יקראנה]

Should women go to shul to hear the Megilah?

As a rule, women are exempt from time-bound mitzvos, both mid’oraisa and mid’rabonon. Kriyas Megilah is an exception to this rule. Since women were included in the annihilation decree, they must take part in its remembrance and celebration. They must also distribute Mishloach Manos and Matanos L’evyonim. The poskim disagree about whether women (like men) should try to hear the Megilah in shul among a large group of people. Some say that this is not necessary, given the innate tzniyus of a woman.

[שו"ע תרפט, א, ומשנ"ב א; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 1 ,3 ו־6]

From what age is a child obligated to listen to the Megilah?

Children who are of the age of chinuch must listen to the Megilah. The age of chinuch varies according to the acumen of the child. Some poskim say that with respect to this mitzva, a child is of age when he has the patience to listen to the entire Megilah. If he cannot last through a slow reading in shul, his father should read it for him privately at a more hurried pace. Others say that even if he can only listen to part of the Megilah, there is a chinuch obligation to stay and listen to that section.

[סימן תרפט, סעיף א וס"ק ג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 7]
  • The poskim extensively discuss the halachos which pertain to a resident of one city who travels to a different city on Purim. After explaining one of the views, the Mishnah Berurah writes the following disclaimer: “I request from the reader not to entirely rely upon my view, and to be stringent with regard to reciting a brocha.

  • A resident of an open city who travels to a walled city before the fourteenth retains his status (of reading on the fourteenth) if he plans to leave the walled city before the fifteenth. He retains this status even if he ends up staying in the walled city.

  • According to the Jewish calendar, the fourteenth of Adar will never fall on a Shabbos. The fifteenth can fall on Shabbos. When Purim falls on Shabbos, the day is known as Purim Meshulash. 

  • Can a child read the Megilah on behalf of an adult?

  • Can one listen to the Megilah with a hearing aid?

  • Can a woman read the Megilah to herself?
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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