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When do we read the Megillah?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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The most common Megillah is Megillat Esther - the Scroll of Esther which contains the Purim story.

Megillat Esther is read twice on Purim: once on the night of Purim at the end of the evening services, and once again the next day after the Torah reading during the morning services. If one is not able to read/hear it in the morning, they may read/hear it all day until sunset.

There are four other Megillot and they are read in many communities on the following holidays:

Megillat Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs) is read on Passover. Passover is when our "romance" with G-d officially began.

Megillat Rut (Ruth) is read on Shavout. Ruth is the grandmother of David and David passed away on Shavuot. (See here for additional reasons).

Megillat Eichah (Lamentations) is read on Tishah b'Av (the 9th of Av). Eichah recounts Isaiah's lamentations for the destruction of the Holy Temple and Jerusalem and is most appropriate for this solemn day, the anniversary of that destruction.

Megillat Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is read on Sukkot. The theme of Sukkot is joy, and the wise adages of Kohelet bring joy to the moment, and joyous perspectives to life.1

Footnotes

  • 1. Additionally, Kohelet speaks about the "vanity" of materialism and the value of trust in G-d, which we demonstrate on Sukkot by leaving the "comfort" of our homes to dwell in the Sukkah - G-d's shelter.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Purim
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
Megillah
A scroll. Usually a reference to the Book of Esther, one of the books of the "Written Torah", which is read--from a scroll--on the holiday of Purim.
Esther
1. Jewish wife of Persian King Ahasuerus in the 4th century BCE. Foiled the plot of Haman, the prime minister, to exterminate all the Jews. The holiday of Purim commemorates this miraculous salvation. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which chronicles the abovementioned story.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Av
The fifth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to July-August. The saddest month of the year due to the destruction of the Temples, and the many other tragedies which befell the Jews in this month.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
David
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
Isaiah
1. One of the greatest prophets, lived in the 7th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies of Isaiah. The book is filled with prophecies concerning the Messianic redemption.
Song of Songs
One of the 24 books of the Bible, authored by King Solomon. This book, which ostensibly is a love poem, is an analogy meant to depict the love between G-d and His bride, the Jewish Nation.
Ruth
1. A Moabite woman who accompanied Naomi, the Jewish mother of her deceased husband, back to Israel. She converted, married, and was the ancestor of King David. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, which chronicles the events of Naomi's life.
Lamentations
One of the 24 books of the Bible, this poetic scripture, authored by Jeremiah, prophetically details the destruction of Jerusalem.
Ecclesiastes
One of the 24 books of the Bible. This book of wise sayings was authored by King Solomon.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.