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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh 5773

Ask the Rabbi: Reading Megillat Esther in Yerushalayim on 14 Adar

by Rav Daniel Mann

Question: I will be having out-of-town guests for sheva berachot in Jerusalem on the Shabbat before Purim, who will be need to hear Megillat Esther right after Shabbat. Can I arrange a Megilla reading for them in Jerusalem to save them from having to search for late readings at home? If so, is there anything special I need to know?

 

Answer: The first question is whether it is proper to read the Megilla in Jerusalem when it is not the right day there. In general, one should not take part in religious activity that is in conspicuous contrast to the prevalent local practice. This is based on the concept of lo titgod’du: do not break into different groups (Yevamot 13b, based on Devarim 14:1).

The gemara (ibid.) raises the question of how we can have different Megilla readings on different days. In discussing the parameters of lo titgod’du, the gemara says generally that Jews in different cities may have different practices. There is a machloket about different rabbinical courts (i.e., religious communities) within one city, and we pasken that they may have different practices (Rambam, Avoda Zara 12:14). Therefore, it is not a problem for different communities to read the Megilla at different times.

However, Tosafot (ad loc.) are bothered by the villagers who would come to the city twice a week and would read the Megilla earlier than the city dwellers. Tosafot claim that the villagers could not read the Megilla early in the city, because of lo titgod’du, but would do so before leaving the village for the city.

While Tosafot’s position might seem to forbid visitors from reading on the 14th in Jerusalem, we are not aware of contemporary poskim who take that approach. (In general, the minhag has become very lax in regard to lo tigod’du, e.g., second-day-Yom Tov minyanim, but we will leave that topic for now.) Rather, they assume that one who needs to read the Megilla on the 14th can do so anywhere (see Har Tzvi, Orach Chayim II:128; Ir Hakodesh V’hamikdash 27). Following are some of the explanations why lo titgod’du does not apply: 1) Lo titgod’du applies to cases of conflicting local practices regarding the correct halachic opinions, not where different locations are supposed to have different practices, e.g., the day of Megilla reading (Rosh, Yevamot 1:9); 2) The separate reading of the villagers in the city is comparable to two communities in one city (ibid.). 3) The two days of Megilla reading, the 14th and the 15th of Adar, are clear from the p’sukim and do not generate negative reactions, which was only a problem for the villagers who read earlier without explicit sanction from the p’sukim (Meishiv Davar I:17).

(Rav Frank (Mikaraei Kodesh, Purim 17) says that one who reads the Megilla on the 14th in Jerusalem needs a minyan, which can include people from Jerusalem. However, this is a minority opinion- see Har’rei Kodesh ad loc.).

Another question is whether a Jerusalemite can be the ba’al koreh on the 14th in Jerusalem. The Yerushalmi (Megilla 2:3) raises this question and the following explanation. Although one who fulfills a mitzva on behalf of another has to be obligated, perhaps it is enough that if a Jerusalemite reads the Megilla on the 14th, b’di’eved he fulfills the mitzva. The Pri Chadash (OC 688) understands that the Bavli (Megilla 2b) disagrees with the Yerushalmi and posits that a Jerusalemite cannot fulfill Megilla reading on the 14th even after the fact. However, the Pri Megadim (688, MZ 4) and the Gra (to OC 688:4) say that the Bavli agrees that while a Jerusalemite should read only on the 15th, his reading on the 14th counts, and Rav O. Yosef agrees with this opinion (Yabia Omer, I, OC 43).

We suggest that if there is no one who is obligated in a 14-Adar reading to be ba’al koreh, your guests should try to find late readings in their communities. If this is not feasible, they can rely on the reading of a Jerusalemite, but the latter should not make the beracha on the reading (see Yalkut Yosef, Moadim, pg. 306).

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