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Chapter 141:13
Laws of the Megillah

13. The person reading the Megillah must have in mind that all those listening will fulfill their obligation by listening to his reading. Similarly, the listener must have the intention of fulfilling his obligation when listening. He must hear each and every word. If he misses even a single word, he does not fulfill his obligation. Therefore, the reader should be careful that when noise and disturbances are being made after reading Haman's name, he should be silent [and not read further] until the noise has ceased entirely. Even so, it is proper that each individual has a kosher Megillah scroll in front of him [during the reading], so that he can read the text [along with the reader] word for word by himself in a hushed tone, lest he not hear a single word being read by the reader (1). Similarly, every woman present in the women's section, who understands [the Megillah], is encouraged, if possible, to have a kosher Megillah scroll in front of her to read from. [Indeed, the women have greater reason for concern], because it is harder to hear [in the women's section], and the women have the same level of obligation to hear the Megillah as the men.

(If "Kiddush Le'vanah," ("Sanctification of the New Moon") has not yet been recited that month, and the [new moon] becomes visible [for the first time that month] on the night of the reading of the Megillah, see the end of Chapter 97 [for instructions]).


If one doesn't have a valid handwritten Megillah, one should at least have a printed Megillah to read from (Mishna Berura 690:19).


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