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According to several online sources, at a public reading of Megillat Esther it is preferable that one should follow along silently from a kosher scroll, so that if you miss hearing a word you will nevertheless have fulfilled the mitzvah of reading the entire Megillah from a scroll.

This seems to imply that the hearing of the Megillah is not the essence of the mitzvah -- and indeed the same sources linked above all say that the real mitzvah is to read the megillah.

So my question: if one is, for reasons of health or other complicating factors, unable to attend a public megillah reading, so is going to read it privately at home, from a kosher scroll -- does that reading need to be done out loud, or is a silent reading sufficient?

(A related question is at Would somebody be yotze the Megillah reading by watching it LIVE STREAMING while following from a Kosher Megillah?, but that question has no answers, and adds the complicating additional factor of listening to a live stream while simultaneously following along silently. Which, to be honest, I am also interested in -- but I would like to separate out the two issues of "reading silently" and "listening to a livestream", which I think each raise separate questions.)

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  • Your source says "If one missed a word from the Chazan he must verbally read that missed word. He must continue reading the missed word until he catches up to the Chazan’s reading, in which case he is to stop verbalizing the words and listen to the reading."
    – Double AA
    Feb 25 at 3:18
  • @DoubleAA Does "verbalize" mean "out loud"? What about sub-vocalization, i.e. moving one's lips but not making audible sound?
    – mweiss
    Feb 25 at 3:20
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The Talmud discusses whether one who is deaf can read the Megillah. The discussion is complicated, but the bottom line is that it is definitely better to read out loud so that one could hear. If one did not read the Megillah out loud, it is subject to Machlokes if they were yotzei. A rav should be consulted.

Sources: https://www.sefaria.org/Shulchan_Arukh%2C_Orach_Chayim.689.2?lang=he&p2=Megillah.19b.6&lang2=he&p3=Kaf_HaChayim_on_Shulchan_Arukh%2C_Orach_Chayim.689.8.1&lang3=en&p4=Mishnah_Berurah.689.5&lang4=bi

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