Sunday, March 20, 2005

To stomp or not to stomp that is the question...

In all the shuls in my neighborhood growing we have the custom for people (especially children) to make noise during the recitation of Haman. As I got older I decided I liked this idea less and less and opted for Minyan where this custom was kept to either a minimum or not at all. One of the main reasons I don't like it (beside for all the gunpowder I would inhale) is it takes forever to finish the megillah this way. If one is supposed to concentrate and not miss a word I find the quicker the better-less of a chance for your mind to wonder etc to mention missing words from all the noise. Well as it turns out I learned this weekdays Mishanh Berurah (The great Chofetz Chiam) explains where this minhag (custom) stems from.

This practice traces its origin to French and German rabbis of the thirteenth century, who, in accordance with a passage in the Midrash, where the verse "Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek" (Deut. xxv. 19) is explained to mean "even from wood and stones," introduced the custom of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones and of knocking or rubbing them constantly until the name was blotted out.The Chofetz Chiam then states the minhag we currently have (just making noise ) is a bad one. When one makes the noise the Bal Koreh must start over again and there is not supposed to be a hafsek (a pause or break) in the recitation of the megilah. There are many shuls where I doubt based on the amount of noise that the congregation is even fulfilling the mitzvah of Megilah.
I look forward to a quick and noiseless megilah reading this year ( at the 5:30 AM minyan).

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