5

Originally, all of Tanac"h was written on parchment. Thus, all 5 Megillot read during the year were read from parchment.

Most minhagim that I have seen (Nusach Ahkenaz and Sefard) do not currently read any of the Megillot (i.e. - Eicha, Kohelet, etc.) from parchment, except for Megillat Esther.

(I know that there are some customs that still read all 5 from parchment, but it I snot the majority, as far as I know.)

Why and when did this custom change? And why is only Megillat Esther read from parchment?

  • I guess it is because it is the only one that there is a mitzva to read – hazoriz Mar 23 '16 at 19:05
  • Many schuls don't have the other four on hand. That simple. If ploni decided to donate an Eicha, or a Kohelet, Shir Hashirim, or Rut, I'm sure they'd lehn from it. – Noach MiFrankfurt Mar 23 '16 at 19:23
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    My nusach Ashkenaz shul reads all but Eicha from a klaf and we say al mikra megillah and shehekhiyyanu. – magicker72 Mar 23 '16 at 19:27
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    @NoachmiFrankfurt some Shuls have haftorahs on a klaf and they do not lain from it (it is hard for them) – hazoriz Mar 23 '16 at 19:32
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/10695/4940 – magicker72 Mar 23 '16 at 19:42
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UPDATE I removed the reference to the haftarah as it is not analogous to the megillah. However that discussion is found at Reading the Haftorah From Printed Materials However, I have found references that speak of the other for megillos

Megillas Esther has the requirements of reading from a klaf as part of the mitzvah and one would not fulfill the mitzvah if this were not done. THe other megillos do not have that requirement as part of a mitzvah. When printing became practical, then they began using printed copies just as was done with the Haftara (as seen in the linked article above).

Megilla

11) The entire Megillah must be read from a kosher scroll, written with proper ink, parchment, markings (sirtut), etc. One who recites the Megillah by heart has not fulfilled his obligation.

The other megillos are not required to be read from a klaf as pointed out by The Reading of Eicha on Tisha B'Av

This discussion goes into the details of whether or not it requires a bracha. However, during the course of the discussion, we see that the halacha of the other megillos does not require a klaf, unlike megillas Esther. See the Fourth reason of the Rama not to recite a bracha for the other megillos.

The Book of Eicha is one of the five megillot (scrolls). Masechet Soferim 14:1, states that when one reads one of the five megillot, the beracha of Al Mikra Megillah is recited. R. David Avudraham, Tefillot HaPesach codifies the statement of Masechet Soferim. Ramban, Torat Ha'Adam (Chavel ed. Pg. 258) applies the statement of Masechet Soferim specifically to the reading of Eicha. Nevertheless, R. Yosef Karo, Beit Yosef, Orach Chaim 559, notes that common practice is to refrain from reciting the beracha of Al Mikra Megillah on all of the megillot with the exception of Megillat Esther.

Rama, Teshuvot HaRama no. 35, addresses the practice of refraining from the recitation of a beracha. He presents four reasons for this practice. First, perhaps the beracha of Al Mikra Megillah is only recited upon obligatory readings of a megillah. If the megillah is read because of a minhag, one does not recite a beracha. [Rama does note that the reading of Eicha can be considered an obligatory reading since it is based on Talmudic sources.] Second, there are different versions of Masechet Soferim as to what beracha should be recited. One version is to recite Al Mikra Megillah. Another version is to recite Al Mikra Ketuvim. Rama suggests that a tradition developed to omit the beracha in order to avoid this question. Third, Rama questions whether it is actually appropriate to recite a beracha on reading a megillah (aside from Megillat Esther). Although Masechet Soferim does endorse reciting a beracha upon recitation of the megillot, Rama suggests that the statement in Masechet Soferim is based on opinions and traditions that are not considered common practice. Fourth, Rama suggests that one may only recite the beracha of Al Mikra Megillah if one is reading from a text that is written on parchment and was written according to the laws of writing a sefer Torah. Since most communities do not have megillot that are written on parchment (with the exception of Megillat Esther), they do not recite the beracha of Al Mikra Megillah.

Rama concludes that one should never recite a beracha on the megillot (with the exception of Megillat Esther) even if they are written on parchment. He notes that if the only reason to refrain from reciting the beracha is that they are not written on parchment, synagogues would make it a priority to purchase a set of megillot. Since we do not find such a practice, it must be that one would not recite a beracha on the megillot even if they are written on parchment.

Magen Avraham 490:9, disagrees with Rama's conclusion and rules that one should recite a beracha on the reading any of the megillot (except Kohelet). [Magen Avraham does not seem to require parchment in order to recite the beracha. Ostensibly, Magen Avraham is following his own opinion (284:1) that there is no requirement to use parchment for the Haftorah text (see "Reading the Haftorah from Printed Materials").] Mishna Berurah 490:19, sides with the opinion of Rama that one should not recite a beracha on the megillot. However, he notes that one can justify the practice of reciting a beracha if the megillah is read from parchment. The Vilna Gaon's personal practice was to read all of the megillot from parchment and to recite a beracha (see Ma'aseh Rav no. 175). Those communities that follow all of the minhagim of the Vilna Gaon recite a beracha on reading the megillah from parchment. [See R. Yechiel M. Tucatzinski, Sefer Eretz Yisrael 21:2. R. Tucatzinski implies that reading from a parchment is necessary regardless of whether one plans on reciting a beracha.]

  • You have a partial answer, actually. The 1st part answers why specifically Esther is read from a klaf. It doesn't answer when or why the other megillot stopped being read from a klaf and why these were permitted. You seem to be citing halachot regarding haftarah, but I don't see how it relates to the other megillot on Yom Tov. – DanF Mar 23 '16 at 20:20
  • @DanF I brought in a link that shows that the other megillos are not required to be written on a klaf while discussing whether or not to say a bracha on them. I bolded the relevant part. In order to be understood, I did not edit out the rest of what I quoted. – sabbahillel Mar 23 '16 at 20:43

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