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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Laws of Purim

Guidelines for Hearing the Megillah for People in Quarantine

Guidelines written in response to inquiries from people who are in quarantine due to potential Coronavirus infection, and to inquiries from communities in the Diaspora where local authorities have forbidden public gatherings in places such as synagogues.
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These guidelines are written in response to inquiries from people who are in quarantine due to potential Coronavirus infection, and to inquiries from communities in the Diaspora where local authorities have forbidden public gatherings in places such as synagogues. According to most authorities, it is not possible to fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the reading of the Megillah by hearing it over the telephone or any other electronic device.1 This is the accepted halachic position under normal circumstances. However, there are authorities who are of the opinion that one fulfils the mitzvah by hearing the reading of the Megillah through electronic means (via live broadcast) 2 , and some authorities state that at the very least we cannot rule out this possibility.3 Therefore, in extreme circumstances where it is impossible to be physically present at the reading, one should listen to a live broadcast of the reading via electronic means. 4



Therefore, one who is in quarantine because of the Coronavirus and cannot go to the synagogue to hear the Megillah, should act in accordance with the following options listed in order of priority:

1. One should arrange for someone to read the Megillah close to one's home such that one will hear the reading directly, while maintaining the separation required for quarantine per the instructions of the local medical authorities.
2. One should read the Megillah himself out of a kosher scroll. One may use a recording of the reading for assistance and read along with the recording using the scroll. We can provide a link to a recording of the reading specifically designed for easy use in this scenario (contact: info@eretzhemdah.org).
3. One should hear the reading of the Megillah via a live broadcast, such as over the telephone or computer. One may answer "amen" to the blessings of the reader,5 but should not recite them oneself.


The custom is that one who reads the Megillah privately does not recite the blessing of "harav et rivenu" following the reading.6




^ 1.Responsa Minchat Shlomo 1:9; Responsa Yechaveh Daat 3:54; Responsa Minchat Yitzchak 3:38,16, and others. The ruling in Responsa Bemareh Habazak 1:26 is that one should not be lenient under normal circumstances. See further, Responsa Bemareh Habazak 5:62
regarding places where the practice is to read the megillah with a microphone.
^ 2.Responsa Minchat Elazar 2:72
^ 3.See Responsa Igrot Moshe O"C 2:108, O"C 4:91; Responsa Tzitz Eliezer 8:11; see further Responsa Minchat Shlomo (ibid.) in the footnotes, who indicates that the Chazon Ish was also unsure of this.
^ 4.We understand that this is also the ruling of Rabbi Herschel Schachter for those asking in the United States.
^ 5. Responsa Igrot Moshe O"C 4:91; Responsa Yechaveh Daat 2:68; see also Piskei Teshuvot 215:3
^ 6.Shulchan Aruch O"C 692:1; see also Piskei Teshuvot 692:4
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