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Chapter 141:21
Laws of the Megillah

21. [The following laws apply to] a person whose immediate relative (1) dies on the "Fast of Esther" (the day before Purim), and at night (that is, Purim) he is an "onen" [because] it is before the burial (2): He should hear the Megillah read by another person (3), but should not eat meat or drink wine, for there is no obligation for him to have a feast ("mishteh") on the night [of Purim]. The next morning, after people have left the synagogue (that is, after the congregation has heard the Megillah), the deceased is buried (4) and afterwards the [mourner] should say the morning prayers ("yispallel") and read the Megillah or listen to it being read by another person (5). A mourner who hears the reading of the Megillah before the burial of his dead does, however, fulfill his obligation. It is, nevertheless, proper for him to read it again without reciting the blessings (6). He should not, however, wear tefillin even after the burial, since this is the first day of one's mourning (7). During the day of Purim, an "onen" is allowed to eat meat and drink wine (8).


(1) Parents, siblings, children or spouse.

(2) Before the burial a mourner is considered an "onen" and is bound by laws which are slightly different to those of a mourner after the burial.

(3) The reason he shouldn't recite the blessings and read the Megillah himself is because there are authorities who rule that on Purim night all the laws of an "onen" apply, and he is thus exempt from all mitzvos, including hearing the Megillah. There are those who disagree and rule that the mitzvos of Purim take precedence over the mitzvos of mourning, and therefore, the "onen" would be obligated to hear the Megillah (See Shulchan Aruch and Rama 296:7 and Mishna Berura 24-26).

(4) According to many authorities, the congregation's obligation to hear the Megillah takes precedence over the congregation's obligation to help out with burying the dead. Therefore, the custom is that the burial takes place only after the Megillah is read for the congregation in synagogue (Mishna Berura 296:26).

(5) As we saw earlier, before the burial the "onen" is exempt from all mitzvos.

(6) This is because there are authorities who rule that if a mourner hears the Megillah before the burial, he has not fulfilled his obligation because at the time he was listening, he was exempt from all mitzvos (Ibid.).

(7) See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch: Chapter 211:2

(8) As we saw earlier, the mitzvos of Purim take precedence over the mitzvos of mourning.


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