The Famous Rogatchover Gaon On Neshima Achas


megillas-esther1Nowadays, the minhag is for each person to say the names of the sons of Haman by himself in one breath, and not to rely on the baal kriah and the din of shomei’ah ke’oneh, that hearing is like saying. However, the Mishnah Berurah brings from the Chayei Adam that this is not correct and everyone should remain quiet and listen to the baal kriah.

Our minhag of saying it ourselves is based on a famous explanation of the Rogatchover Gaon, Rav Yosef Rosen, who says that while the baal kriah can be motzie us with the words, he cannot be motzie us with the neshima achas with one breath, and therefore we must say it ourselves. 

Rav Moshe Shternbuch (2:358) questions the logic of the Rogatchover. Since the “one breath” is part and parcel of the reading of the names, says Rav Shternuch, there is no reason why we are not yotzei with the baal kriah‘s efforts just like by tekias shofar.

Rav Shternbuch therefore offers an alternative reason why we read it ourselves. He says that since the baal kriah reads it quickly in order to say it in one breath, he may leave out letters and then we are not yotzei. Therefore, we read it ourselves before the baal kriah, just to make sure that we are yotzie. (This should be done even if you are not reading from a kosher megillah, because since you’ve already heard most of the megillah from the baal kriah you are yotzei even if a minority is read by heart.) 

Note that while Rav Shternbuch takes issue with the Rogatchover’s vort, it is actually consistent with the famous explanation of the Bais Halevi as to why a kohein can’t be motzie another kohen with Birchas Kohanim. The requirement of kol rom – saying the Birchas Kohanim loud – is not included in the shomeiah ke’oneh and must be done by the kohein himself, similar to neshimah achas which is beyond the inclusion of shomeiah ke’oneh.

{By Dovid Newscenter/ contributed to this post}


  1. Our minhag of saying it ourselves is based on the fact that that is and was the minhag. The famous explanation of the Rogatchover Gaon is just that an explanation for an ancient minhag