One of the most important Mitsvot of Purim is reading, or listening to the reading of, Megillat Esther.
When we read Megillat Esther we should try to understand the meaning of what we are reading, to remember and relive the story of Purim, and be more inspired to express our gratitude to HaShem for His salvation and His constant protection, then, and today.
Following, a few Halakhot of Megillat Esther.
*We read Megillat Esther twice during Purim. The first time at night (this year Wednesday night March 23rd ) and the second time during the day (Thursday, March 24th).
*Women are normally exempted from Mitsvot triggered by time, like Tefilin or Sukka, but listening to the Megila is an exception. Because women were part of the miracle. (i) They were also saved from the danger, and (ii) it was a woman, Queen Esther, who had the most critical role in saving the Jews from extermination.
*Children are not obligated to listen to Megillat Esther, but they are expected to attend Synagogue during Purim. Parents should make sure that their small children do not disrupt the reading of the Megilla.
*There is no Halakhic objection to using a microphone when reading the Megila in public, provided the Megila could be heard without the microphone as well, i.e., the sound system is there to “amplify” the voice of the reade. Listening to the Megila by TV, radio, phone, skype is not enough to fulfill the Mitsva of Megila, even if is a live broadcasting.
*When the ba’al qore (=the Megilla reader) reads the Megilla everybody should listen. Normally, everyone follows the ba’al qore reading silently from a scroll or from a printed Megila.
*The custom is to unroll the Megilla as an open document (igeret) and then read from it. Once we finish reading it, we first roll it back and then we say the final blessing. (MT, Megilla 2:11).
*Because the Megilla is an Igeret (document), as opposed to a Sefer (like, “Sefer Tora”), if the reader makes a mistake we do not need to correct him (אין מדקדקים בקריאתה MT, Megilla 2:7). The general custom, however, is that we do correct the reader, particularly if the mistake he made affects the meaning of the word.
*קראה למפרע לא יצא: “If one reads the Megilla in a different order, the reading is not valid”. This means that if a person reads first verse 2, then verse 1 or so, he did not fulfill his obligation. Practically speaking, if a person comes late to Synagogue, and the congregation is already reading, for example, chapter 4, he cannot say: “I will read now from chapter 4 until the end and then, when everybody finishes, I will read from the beginning till chapter 4”. One has to listen or read the Megilla in order from the beginning to the end.