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Chapter 141:18
Laws of the Megillah

18. [On Purim], a congregation that does not have a reader who is able to recite the Megillah with the correct tune, may have someone read the Megillah without the tune, as long as he reads the words correctly, such that the meaning is not altered. If, for example, instead of the words "And Mordechai WAS SITTING" ("Yo'sheiv"), he were to read "[And Mordechai] SAT" ("Yo'shav"), even post facto ("Bedi'avad") the mitzvah has not been fulfilled (1).

[In a situation where the reader doesn't know how to pronounce the words without the vowels, and doesn't know the correct tune], one may write the vowels and cantillation marks in the Megillah scroll so that he can read correctly, since it is an urgent situation ("Sha'as Ha'dechak"); [inserting the vowels and cantillation marks onto a kosher Megillah] is better than having someone first read each sentence in an undertone from a [non-kosher Megillah, such as a] Chumash [so that the reader will know how to read the kosher scroll correctly]. This is because even though he is reading in an undertone, the person [assisting the reader by] reading from the Chumash will not be able to concentrate ("Le'kaven Da'atoh") in a way that allows him to hear [all the words] from the one reading [from the kosher scroll]. Consequently, he will have read only from the Chumash, and will not have fulfilled his obligation (2). If this did happen, [the one who assisted the reader] will have to hear the Megillah again from a kosher scroll.


(1) In such a case, the Megillah must be re-read from the place the mistake was made, but a new blessing is not said. This rule also applies if an entire word was omitted (Biur Halachah 690:14).

(2) In order to fulfill the obligation, one must read the Megillah, or hear it being read, from a kosher scroll.


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