Purim Night Megillah Reading

The Tan’ach, the Hebrew name for the complete Bible, is made up of Torah (the Pentateuch), N’viim (Prophets) and K’tuvim (Writings).

Included in K’Tuvim are the 5 megillot (scrolls):

While all five of these books are called megillot, only Esther is referred to as “The Megillah.”

The Megillah is read twice on Purim, once at night and once during the day. Both readings are obligatory.

On Purim night, the Megillah is usually read about an hour after that week’s Shabbat candle lighting times. Different synagogues may, however, vary, so please call your local synagogue for the exact times.

If possible, one should not break one’s fast before hearing the Megillah. If one feels weak or ill, however, one is permitted to eat.


Blessings for Megillah reading:

The person reading the Megillah recites 3 blessings before the Megillah is read. Those listening should respond “Amen.”

After Megillah reading, the reader recites one blessing. Following the blessing, the congregation recites the traditional hymns, Asher Heni and Shoshanat Ya’akov.

Children who are not able to stay quiet during the Megillah reading should not be brought to the services.

“Booing” during the Megillah

Because it is a commandment to “wipe out” the memory of Amalek, and Haman is the wicked epitome of Amalek, it is customary to drown out his name with boos, hisses and other loud noises.

When the reader says the name of Haman everyone makes noises to drown out his name. As mentioned earlier, however, it is necessary to hear every word of the Megillah reading. Therefore, when the reader or the rabbi signals for the noise to stop and the reader to continue, it is important to maintain quiet.

While all sources of noise are acceptable for drowning out the name of Amalek, the traditional Purim noisemaker is a grogger, a mechanical device that makes a loud grating sound when twirled by hand.

Making groggers is a great way to involve children in the Purim festivities.

Dressing up in Costumes

There is a tradition on Purim to come dressed up in costume or mask to Megillah reading. A major theme in the Megillah is the ‘hidden face of G-d.’ By putting on a mask, we are remembering that one must often look past the surface of an experience to see the hand of G-d.

Dressing up is also a way for people to bring joy and laughter to their friends, another major Purim theme.