By Rav Doniel Dombroff
Caution to the Reader:
Some of this article is based on hearsay and has not been verified in print.
A few years ago, a shul in Bnei Brak instituted a policy that there should be no banging during the reading of the Megilah. To enforce this rule, the gabai announced that the baal koreh will not be motzi anyone who violates the policy. As can be expected, there were offenders. Following the completion of the Megilah, the violators asked the baal koreh if the gabai was referring to them. The baal koreh confessed that yes, he was not motzi them in his reading of the megilla. At that point the question was submitted to Rav Nissim Karelitz, who ruled that no one in the shul was yotzei, except the ladies.
This surprising p’sak is based on a t’shuvah brought by the Shaarei Teshuvah O.C. siman 685 regarding a similar case involving t’kias shofar. In that case, an appeal was made to the community asking that everyone contribute funds toward the remuneration of an imported baal tokea. As to be anticipated, some members contributed and some did not. Prior to shofar blowing, the gabai announced that anyone who did not contribute as requested may as well leave now because we are not going to be motzi him. Sure enough, the baal tokea violated his orders and had them in mind. The p’sak was that no one was yotzei. There is a dissenting opinion brought there that the tzibur was yotzei. However, the dissenting view is actually the opinion in line with our psak.
The understanding of these rulings is that the process of being motzi another individual uses the mechanism known as sh’lichus. Although there is a concept known as Shomea KeOneh – in other words, hearing the recitation of another individual is considered as though it was recited by the individual himself – it requires the concept of shelichus to effectuate this.Therefore, since he contravened the instructions of the gabai, who represented the tzibur, he violated and nullified his sh’lichus, and, accordingly, no one was yotzei. It should be noted, however, that the Shaar Hatziun siman 690:44 clarifies that the requirement of having the listener in mind is only necessary according to the opinion that holds Mitzvos Tzrichos Kavanah. In other words, the sh’lichus is really only needed for the kavanah of the mitzvah to be conveyed to the listener, not for the action itself.
Parenthetically, the Mishnah Berurah is of the opinion that only by day is the mitzvah of megila a chiyuv medivrei kabbalah, in other words, from Mordechai and Esther [Kesuvim]. By night, it is only mederabanan. As such, there are opinions that it would be more lenient by night in regard to the obligation of kavanah.
The same concept would apply in our case of Megilah. The women only have a mitzvah of sh’mia, listening to the Megilah, and not k’riah, reading the Megilah, as the men do. Therefore, the women can be yotzei without using sh’lichus, whereas the men need sh’lichus as well. This is in line with the dissenting view mentioned earlier regarding our case of shofar: The obligation of shofar is shemiah only, and therefore there would be no need for sh’lichus. In essence, it would be similar to the women in our case of megilah, as we explained. Therefore, it seems that our p’sak would follow the second opinion mentioned regarding shofar. In other words, the only difference between the two opinions by shofar is whether or not sh’lichus is necessary for a mitzvah which is only shemiah.
However, what is difficult with this ruling is that the Mishna B’rurah in siman 689:6 brings an opinion that b’shas ha’dechak, in an emergency situation, a katan may be motzi others based on the opinion of R’ Yehudabrought in the Mishna in Maseches Megilah. However, we know that a katan is excluded from serving in the role of a sh’liach.
Perhaps we can suggest an answer based on the Turei Even (Chagigah 6) that raises the following concern: How is a katan ever able to fulfill a mitzvah; halachah doesn’t recognize his kavanah. He answers that, perforce, since he is unable to have kavanah, his mitzvah is respectedeven without it. In other words, it is the lack of kavana that normally undermines the mitzvah , whereas by a katan it’s not a lack, its simply his inability to have kavannah.
What emerges is that there are two components: The kavanah to create a ma’aseh mitzvah, and also the kavanah to submit the mitzvah. The first component is not applicable, since its already a ma’aseh mitzvah for the katan, therefore it is a ma’sseh mitzvah for the gadol as well.
Nonetheless, the listener would have to have kavanah when hearing the Megilah from the katan, because there are two requirements for kavana: To turn it into a maaseh mitzvah, which, as we explained, happens automatically by a katan. and to submit the mitzvah, so to speak, which can be accomplished by the listener himself. Therefore, since we don’t need the kavanah of the katan, sh’lichus, as well, would not be needed, and shomea k’oneh will suffice.