Bringing the Megillah to Life

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megillahBy Gavriel Horan

Paying proper attention to the Megillah reading each Purim is one of the most difficult mitzvos to perform.Halachah requires one to be attentive during the entire reading, listening to every single word along with the ba’al koreh.  If such a feat is challenging for those listeners who are familiar with the original text, imagine how hard it is for those who don’t understand a word of Hebrew! For unaffiliated Jews experiencing Purim for the first time, the Megillah reading is nothing but confusion. They may have fulfilled their obligation by simply hearing the ba’al koreh read from a kosher scroll, but they miss the opportunity to connect to the depth of the words and message of the Megillah. For many, Purim is their first taste of Judaism, however, without comprehension it does not exactly leave them thirsty for more.

This Purim, following along with the reading will be a bit easier for many newcomers. For years, experienced outreach veteran Rabbi Yitzchak Weinberger of New Jersey, was bothered by the predicament that Purim posed to kiruv professionals. Rabbi Weinberger has helped found adult Torah education centers in Miami Beach, Florida and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is currently a Coordinator of Torah Links of Northern New Jersey – a branch of the state-wide Torah Links kiruv network. He dreamed of producing high quality visual material that could be shown by outreach organizations while the Megillah is read, enabling those who don’t understand Hebrew to enjoy the reading as well. “I realized that to run an effective kiruv Megillah reading we need to bring the Megillah to life for people who don’t know Hebrew,” he said. After reading a feature about the multimedia kiruv organization, Torah Live, he was inspired to contact them to mention his idea.

Torah Live is an educational Torah organization founded by Rabbi Dan Roth that combines interactive multimedia presentations with live lecturers to teach Jewish law, philosophy, and ethics. Rabbi Roth was inspired by Rabbi Weinberger’s idea and got his graphic team to work illustrating portions of the Megillah to accompany the reading or to be used as teaching material before Purim. In addition to the full Hebrew text, each slide contains the English translation as well as a beautiful picture capturing the scene. In this way people can follow along the Hebrew together with the ba’al koreh while watching the slides.

World renowned Rabbis R’ Yitzchak Berkovits of the Jerusalem Kollel and R’ Yisroel Reisman of the Agudath Israel of Madison in Brooklyn, shlita, give their whole hearted endorsement to the idea of screening visual aids during the Megillah reading.

“Holding the attention of the congregation for the duration of the entire Megillah has been a concern for centuries,” Rabbi Berkovits writes. “It is for this reason that four pivotal verses are read aloud by the entire congregation. The issue is even more pronounced when the Megillah is read for beginners – young and old – unfamiliar with the Hebrew text. Torah Live, known for its innovative approach to Torah education, has once again created a state-of-the-art production to keep one’s interest and follow the Megillah reading. Very much like the illustrated Megillas of old, the reading is accompanied by a most beautiful slide show of scenes from the Megillah along with the entire text in both the original as well as an English translation. I firmly believe that this visual aid will indeed succeed in helping so many who would otherwise find it difficult – if not impossible – to fulfill the mitzvah of Kriyas Hamegillah.”

To date, kiruv organizations throughout the world – in Mexico, South Africa, Australia, the U.K., and across North America – have expressed great interest in this necessary program. Member of international organizations from Aish HaTorah to Chabad have similarly jumped on the band wagon along with a large number of Jewish outreach schools.

“This is truly exciting news for all outreach shuls,” Rabbi Yakov Vann, Rav of the Calabasas Shul just outside of L.A., said. “In many cases, this is the very first time that the entire kehilla of men, women and children can follow along with the reader. This is really deserving of a shechiyanu!”

Any organizations interested in more information should contact Torah Live directly at: [email protected]

{Gavriel Newscenter}


  1. Good idea, however the visual aids may serve as a distraction and actually distract the listener from the Baal Koreh’s words.

    The Riv’ash has a Teshuva: 388 and 391 were he discusses a similar topic. Ayin Sham in detail…

    However the RambaN, the RaN and the Rivash agree that the megilah should not be read in a foreign language to non-hebrew speakers by those who can read (and understand) Hebrew.

    Even if one does not understand it in Hebrew, it is best to hear it in Hebrew as based in the Gemarah and Poskim. The time to study the megilaand indeed the Haggadah, or the meaning of the Yom Kippur Davening is BEFORE they are read not during the megila, Seder or Yom Kippur.

  2. so people will focus on the show and not really listen? how can that work? why dont they just do what was done in the olden days? have a meturgaman. someone to explain it verse by verse in the mother tongue of the crowd?

  3. #2 Secular

    After that great shiur, I now face a shaila. May I close this page on my computer? It will cause your great pilpul shiur to be erased. ???


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