Ta'anit Esther

General Notes

Ta'anit Esther commemorates the three-day fast that Esther asked the Jews to observe before she went before King Ahasuerus to plead on behalf of the Jews. It is typically observed the day before Purim, but is moved to Thursday when it would otherwise fall on Shabbat.

This is a minor fast day. For those who choose to fast, the fast begins at sunrise and ends at sunset.

Shacharit Torah Reading 

Exodus 32:11-14 (P 647, RP 588), 34:1-10 (P 658, RP 593)

3 Aliyot

Shacharit Torah Reading Notes

There is a special custom regarding the chanting of the following:

o 32:12 ("Shuv mei'charon . . . l'amecha")

o 34:6-7 ("Adonai Adonai . . . v'nakei")

o 34:9 ("v'salachta . . . u'n'chaltanu")

When the reader reaches these verses, the congregation recites the verses first. The reader then repeats them in High Holy Day cantillation. The rest of the portion is read in regular Torah cantillation.

Shacharit Haftarah 

Exodus 32:11-14 (P 647, RP 588), 34:1-10 (P 658, RP 593)

Mincha

We add a Torah service (MT 104) after the Chatzi Kaddish (MT 57). The afternoon reading is the same as the morning reading.

After the Torah reading, we read the Haftarah for public fast days.

When we recite the Amidah on fast days, we replace Shalom Rav with Sim Shalom (MT 98)

Mincha Haftarah Reading

Isaiah 55:6-56:8 (P 1681, RP 1489)

Purim (begins at sundown)

General Notes

The Mitzvot of Purim:

It is a Mitzvah to hear the reading of Megillat Esther. The Megillah is traditionally read at both the evening and morning services. On Purim, we give Mishloach Manot, gifts of food and drink to our family and friends. One should give at least two types of food to one person.  It is also a Mitzvah to give Matanot L'Evyonim, gifts to the poor. We should give a gift to at least two people. Finally, one should partake of a S'udat Purim, a festive Purim meal in the afternoon.

Procedure for Reading the Megillah:

1. The reader should unroll the Megillah scroll and fold it like a letter.

2. The reader recites the blessings before beginning to chant (MT 573).

3. The reader then chants the Megillah, keeping in mind the following:

    a. Many communities have the custom to recite certain verses to special melodies. These verses and melodies vary    from community to community.

    b. The following verses are chanted according to the trope for the book of Lamentations: 1:7, 2:6, 3:15, 4:1, 4:16

    c. Before the reader chants 2:5, 8:15, 8:16, and 10:3, the congregation should recite the verses. The reader should then continue with the chanting of the special verse.

    d. In 9:7, the names of Haman's sons are traditionally chanted quickly on one note, and in one breath, if possible.

    e. Whenever the reader chants Haman's name, the congregation makes noise in an effort to blot out his name.

4. The reader then chants the blessing after the Megillah. These blessings can be found in the Koren Siddur, pp. 903-904. Traditionally, this blessing is followed by the chanting of Shoshanat Ya'akov.

For  more information on reading Megillat Esther and examples of melodies see ATC II, 85 and A.W. Binder, Biblical Chant, Sacred Music Press, 1963.

Ma'ariv

Add Al Hanisim for Purim (MT 557) to the Amidah (MT 94)

Read the Megillah after the Amidah (for procedure, see above "Reading the Megillah")

After reading the Megillah, continue with concluding prayers