Contributed by: Rabbi Haim Shaul
Who is required to hear the Megilah?
Everyone (yes, everyone) is required to hear the megilah of Esther at night, and then to hear it again during the following day. To accommodate, Ahaba Ve Ahava has two night readings for those who arrive home late from work.
If by some chance, an individual got stuck and was unable to hear the megilah at night, he/she can not make up for it and hear it twice the next day. This shows how vital hearing the megilah at night truly is. Everyone should make the necessary plans and precautions to be in shul early.
Women are required to hear the megilah for they were also saved in Hashem's miracle. If they cannot make it to shul, they still need to hear the megilah from one who is well-versed in reading it.
One who hears the megilah with the assistance of a hearing aid, fulfills his/her requirement to hear the megilah entirely.
We look to train children to come to shul, be a part of the holiday in the right fashion, and listen to the megilah. However, if the child will only disturb others, and will not gain any practical expereicen from being in shul, parents are encouraged to leave the child home- for there is no purpose to bring them.
What about hearing the Megilah with...?
One who hears the megilah over a radio of the Internet does not fulfill the requirement, even if the broadcast is live.
Hearing the megilah through an intercom or microphone is only permitted when the congregation would still be able to hear the reading without the device. Meaning, if you removed the intercom or microphone, would everyone still be able to hear the reading? If yes, and the intercom or microphone is only being used to enrich the experience, it is allowed. If not, then the use of an intercom or microphone is not permitted.
What are the specific laws regarding hearing the Megilah?
One has to hear the megilah (and berachot) with the intent to fulfill the requirement to hear the megilah.
One who is reading along with the chazzan from a kosher megilah, is allowed to make the berachot on his own.
One must hear the entire megilah and try to not miss any word.
One is forbidden to speak during the megilah reading. This is simply because one cannot listen and speak at the same time. Therefore, the person misses a verse and is then required to go back and read the megilah from that verse. Because most people do not have a kosher megilah in front of them, one who misses a verse is in a difficult situation. But, the solution is simple. Do not talk.
It is our custom to say 4 pesukim from the megilah out loud in unity. They are:
"Ish yehudi haya beshoshan..."
"Balailah Hahoo Nadidah Shinat Hamelech…"
"Omordechai Yatza Milifneh Hamelech…"
"Layihudim Hayitah Ora ViSimcha…"
One is not allowed to eat before the megilah reading at night, or before the megilah reading in the morning. However, it is permissible to eat fruits and a small piece of cake with tea. However, meals with bread are prohibited.