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 for examples of melodies see ATC II, 85 and A.W. Binder, Biblical Chant, Sacred Music Press, 1963.
We add Al Hanisim for Purim (MT 557) to the Amidah (MT 94)
Exodus 17:8-16 (P 506, RP 447, WTC 398)
Add Al Hanisim for Purim