Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Every Single Word

On Purim we're supposed to hear the Megillah, the Scroll of Esther, twice. First at night, after fasting all day and then in the morning. In Jerusalem and the other "walled cities," there's a break of a day between The Fast of Ta'anit Ester and Purim.

The words of the Megillah aren't supposed to be "background," like what's played at a wedding during the main course, or elevator music. We are supposed to follow every single word.

That's easier said than done. The general technique is to look at the text while listening to the words. The Megillah is no short page or two. It's a short book of quite a few chapters. Just concentrating on such a long story is difficult, but in most synagogues, the noise is horrendous.

The custom is to make noise to blot out the evil Haman's name. Some people simply tap their foot on the floor or their fingers on the table or chair. It's supposed to be just as the name Haman is said. That's possible if you're actually reading the Megillah, but most people, especially children, don't. That's the cause of the "echo phenomena." That's the noise made by people who only start when others are finishing, and then others copy them, etc ad headache.

Some people, kids and those who must have already suffered nerve damage to their ears, so they haven't a clue, or don't care, that the bongs, cap guns and other very noisy and dangerous "noise makers" make it impossible to hear the Megillah properly.

I started going to the "women's reading" when I had children. Then I continued, since I prefer the dignified, easy to concentrate atmosphere. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I heard the Megillah in a regular synagogue reading. I like "home readings." They're quieter and easier for me to follow. I found that synagogue readings for women are also noisy. People behave best at home.


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