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Why do we read the Megillah by night and then again by day? Wouldn't it be enough to read it once!

  • Maybe we should read it at Mincha too in addition to Shacharit and Maariv. Why is once sufficient? – Double AA Mar 24 at 0:29
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The Talmud in Megillah 4a lays out the requirement for reading the Megillah both at night and during the day:

ואריב"ל חייב אדם לקרות את המגילה בלילה ולשנותה ביום שנאמר אלהי אקרא יומם ולא תענה ולילה ולא דומיה לי סבור מינה למקרייה בליליא ולמיתנא מתניתין דידה ביממא אמר להו רבי ירמיה לדידי מיפרשא לי מיניה דרבי חייא בר אבא כגון דאמרי אינשי אעבור פרשתא דא ואתנייה איתמר נמי אמר רבי חלבו אמר עולא ביראה חייב אדם לקרות את המגילה בלילה ולשנותה ביום שנאמר למען יזמרך כבוד ולא ידום ה' אלהי לעולם אודך

R. Joshua b. Levi further said: It is the duty of a man to read the Megillah in the evening and to repeat it in the day, as it is written, O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou answerest not, and in the night season and am not silent. The students took this to mean that the [Megillah] should be read at night, and the Mishnah relating to it should be learnt in the morning. R. Jeremiah. however, said to them: It has been explained to me by R. Hiyya b. Abba [that the word ‘repeat’ here has the same meaning] as when, for instance, men say, I will go through this section and repeat it. It has also been stated: R. Helbo said in the name of ‘Ulla of Biri: It is a man's duty to recite the Megillah at night and to repeat it the next day, as it says, To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee [by day]. and not be silent [by night]. O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever. (Soncino translation)

Rashi, commenting on the words "repeat it in the day", explains:

זכר לנס שהיו זועקין בימי צרתן יום ולילה

A remembrance of the miracle, for they cried out in the time of their distress day and night.

Apparently, then, reading the Megillah at night and during the day is meant to correspond to the crying out that occurred both at night and during the day.

This reason is cited by R. Joseph Karo in his commentary to R. Jacob Ben Asher's codification of this law in Tur O.C. 687.

  • 4
    I only just saw that you posted your answer before I got mine out. As yours quotes all of my sources but more comprehensively, as well as in addition to others, I’ve withdrawn my answer in deference to yours. – DonielF Mar 24 at 1:47
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    See also the Aruch Hashulchan's take on what each limmud would indicate – רבות מחשבות Mar 24 at 2:14
  • @רבותמחשבות Are you going to write that up as an answer? I was also thinking it could be a valuable expansion of the acharonim's takes. – WAF Mar 24 at 6:39
  • @WAF nope, not planning on it - go ahead! – רבות מחשבות Mar 24 at 7:30
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The Sefas Emes (in explaining the somewhat unusual language of the Gemara M'gila 4a, which says "לשנותו", to repeat it, in the day) explains that the nighttime reading is actually a preparatory reading for the day, and we only read at night so that the daytime reading will be the second time reading (in order that people be more "ready" for it, and it will enhance the פרסומי ניסא, publicizing of the miracle). Here's a snippet:

והנה למסקנא יש לדעת למה אמר לשנותה ולא אמר דחייב לקרותה בלילה וביום ... ואפשר דהא דאמר ולשנותה משום דעיקר מצותה ביום היא והקריאה בלילה היא רק שיהיה ביום קריאה שניה ונפקא מינה דהיכא דביממא לא יהיה עליו חיוב גם בלילה פטור ...

  • @WAF sfas emes on the gemara there in megillah 4a – Y     e     z Mar 26 at 5:41
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    You're not gone! Edited in the citation. – WAF Mar 26 at 6:47

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