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Does hearing the megillah read over the internet fulfill the mitzvah? This is not the first year of Covid restrictions, surely it was considered in 2020 or 2021.

I would imagine this is similar to the question of hearing megillah in a large room where electronic amplification is used, or, more distantly, to the question of one who uses a hearing aid (see Can someone wearing a cochlear implant fulfill the mitzvah of hearing the Shofar?)

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    I'm impressed you made it two years without hearing or reading someone talk about what seems to be everyone's favorite COVID halacha topic! There's plenty of write-ups if you Google a bit
    – Double AA
    Mar 9 at 22:48
  • @DoubleAA even before covid some of my earliest jewish learning occurred remotely thru merkos' online school... this was always a topic of discussion around purim and the answer was always you aren't mekayem mitzvah thru the internet
    – ezra
    Mar 10 at 0:29
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    Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Mar 10 at 4:05
  • I think the source for the opinion that its allowed is the Gemara in Sukkah ch. 5 about the synagogue of Alexandria, where the place was so big that people waived flags to let the ones who could not hear, know when to answer "Amen" etc. This proves that although the person did not hear the blessings, it was OK to respond in prayer by seeing the flag at the right time, live. Mar 10 at 14:34

2 Answers 2

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During COVID, OU published the following ruling on the topic, allowing it only in the most extreme cases.

  • Those who are ill or have had serious exposure and must remain in isolation must not come to shul. To fulfill the Mitzvah, they should have a kosher, hand-written Megillah in hand from which they read audibly, either on their own or assisted by a reading heard electronically.
  • The clear majority of Halachic authorities do not consider Halachically adequate a Megillah reading heard over the phone or online. There is however a minority opinion that does allow for this, provided that the reading is live, and not pre-recorded. Following the Halachic principle that we may rely upon minority opinions under extenuating circumstances, when no better option exists this minority opinion can be relied upon.

chabad.org writes similarly

Today, with the benefit of a better understanding of how these technologies work, the majority consensus is that one cannot fulfill one’s halachic obligations through a telephone or microphone

(see there, footnote 2, for sources)

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  • There's someone that holds you can fulfill the mitzva through zoom or phone?
    – Shlomy
    Mar 16 at 21:51
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    There are some opinions this is possible, which were originally developed for microphones, and some poskim rely on them in extraordinary circumstances (e.g., stuck at home with Covid). See See here (4th para of the answer and sources) and here. They should not be relied upon in practice and for normal circumstances
    – mbloch
    Mar 17 at 3:49
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Rabbi Josh Flug wrote an article on this subject.

In a pikuach nefesh-situation like the Covid-19 period, the following applies:

Therefore, in a situation in which it is impossible to have an in person mikra megillah due to pikuach nefesh considerations caused by Coronavirus, it is permissible to hear mikra megillah via a live phone call or video. We follow the rule that sha’as had-chak ke-di'eved dami; in a sha’as had-chak we allow le-chatchila what is usually only accepted bidi'eved.

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  • Why do you assume a microphone and a phone are the same thing?
    – Shlomy
    Mar 16 at 21:55
  • The size of the phone doesn't seem to be relevant
    – Double AA
    Mar 16 at 22:55

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