I had been under the impression that for all five of the megillot you say a bracha before the reading, and this is the practice I've observed. When preparing for Shabbat chol hamoed Sukkot this year I went to look up the bracha and was surprised to not find it in an Artscroll siddur. I checked a couple other siddurim without success, then consulted Isaac Klein's Guide to Jewish Practice , where I found a comment that we do not say a bracha for Sukkot. (I didn't check to see what Klein said about the others, though I did check Shir Hashirim in Artscroll and didn't find it there either.)

Everybody agrees that reading the megillah at Purim is a mitzvah and has a bracha, but now I'm wondering about the other four cases. Are we supposed to say the bracha for all of them? If not, why not?


3 Answers 3


Most will tell you that reading the other 4 Megillahs is custom, not Rabbinic decree. That's the general practice.

The Vilna Gaon, however, is of the opinion that all 5 Megillahs must be read from a handwritten parchment klaf, and (if done so) have the blessing "who commanded us regarding Megillah reading." You will see this opinion out there too.

(Mind you, Shir HaShirim, Esther, Eicha, Ruth aren't that bad out of a klaf, but even the most veteran of readers will tell you that reading Kohelet without printed vowels or cantillation marks is a total killer. I've even heard of Haftorahs being done out of a handwritten parchment that also contained vowels.)

H/t Double AA, who pointed to responsum of Rabbi Moshe Isserles #35 (pdf).

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    The rama does seem to agree to the Gra. See his teshuva (#35) on the matter.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 5:11
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    I would argue that everyone agrees it's a minhag, just that some require a bracha anyway because reading from Tanach is definitionally a kiyum mitzva. See Sofrim 14:1 (the original source for the bracha on all the megillot) where it compares that bracha to a bracha said upon reading ketuvim. Why is there a bracha on ketuvim? When do we read ketuvim? Rather maybe it's a special form of birkat hatorah said when learning nach, but REAL nach! It's not a bracha on a minhag. Let us not forget that the Gra was very opposed to brachot on minhagim (such as yom kippur candles) yet he says to bless here!
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 8:32
  • Writing this made me think through it again and I think there might be a connection between my suggestion and the Rambam Tefillah 13:6 regarding reading the last 8 pesukim of the Torah beyachid. Maybe they get a bracha beyachid as limmud like nach! Just an idea...
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 8:58

When it is read from a Klaf then you make a Bracha, however most Shuls do not read the Megilos from a Klaf only on Purim and therefore they do not make the Bracha Al Mikrah Megilah only on Purim.


I'd like to add (because the question differentiated between Kohelet and the other 3: Rut, Eicha and Shir HaShirim) that even among those who do recommend saying a bracha when reading from a klaf, the Magen Avraham in OC 490 sk 9 says that Kohelet is excluded and no bracha is recited upon it even when reading from a klaf. Despite this prominent opinion, I have never seen a shul differentiate between the different megillot (following the ruling of the Gra there).

  • Thanks for bringing that! Does it happen to say why that difference? Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 14:14
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    @MonicaCellio, Hazal debated whether Kohelet belonged in the canon of Tanakh to begin with, or had the full sanctity of Scripture.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 15:41
  • @Shalom, and Shir haShirim too, right? Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 15:52
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    @MonicaCellio The argument is brought in the mishna Yadayim 3:5 See there for a number of opinions about what the argument was (a meta-machloket!)
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 1:57
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    @DoubleAA, thanks for the pointer! Wow, interesting stuff there -- Shir HaShirim being likened to the holy of holies is new to me. Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 4:59

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