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I was on the bima during the Rabbi's reading of the Megillat Esther this year and was holding one end of the scroll flat. As he advanced through the columns he moved the scroll along and at one stage I let go of my end by accident. The scroll immediately started to roll up but he caught it and we folded it properly again.

When this happened I said 'Sorry' without thinking and then realised I had made a hefsek during the reading.

Afterwards I asked if that counted as a hefsek and was told there is room to be lenient.

My question is how is a hefsek defined in this context? Please supply sources.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

After the fact:

Unless the interruption was halachically mandated (eg: he needs to use the facilities), no time or speech interruption affects the validity of your megilla reading (SA OC 690:5).

An interruption between the bracha and the beginning of reading does affect the validity of the bracha-mitzva connection. (MB 692:9, also see footnote 12 in Shaar haTzion).

Additionally, Shut Imrei Yosher II:139 writes that anything said without thinking may not be an interruption at all.


Interrupting lechatechila during megilla has the same law as interrupting between paragraphs of shema (MB 692:9). One can ask about the welfare of one to whom he owes respect, and may return such a greeting to anyone who initiates. Although I don't have a proof, apologies following an incident where such an apology is socially expected may fall into the same category as returning a greeting. (CYLOR)

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Since usually the definition of a hefsek is related to a loss of concentration on the subject, manifested by an action or a verbalization, saying Sorry without thinking about it, on the one hand seems like one.

Ask a real rabbi though.

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source.......... – Shmuel Brin Mar 12 '12 at 16:02

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