Megillah Reading between Shekiah and Tzeit HaKokhavim
New York, NY
If we take our baby to an early reading that’s between Shekiah and Tzeit, do my husband and I have to also take turns going to readings that are actually at night while the baby sleeps?
The first question is whether someone is yotzei during Bein HaShemashot. See Shulchan Arukh OC 692:4 where for a case of serious ones or illness, we allow one to read even from Plag! But see Mishnah Berurah and Biur Halakha, where the Achronim are pretty machmir in a normal case, even regarding Bein HaShemashot. That being said, I think that if it started 14 minutes after Shekiah, then in difficult cases such as yours, one could rely on the Gra who says it’s already night, and that even according to those who say it’s Bein HaShemashot, it might be night even according to them. This is a classic sefeik sefeika – maybe the halakha is like Gra and it’s night, and even if the halakha is not like Gra and it’s bein hashmashot, it might still be night.
In addition, one could simply argue that Bein Hashmashot is fine, since there is a debate of the poskim if it is good and thus it should be fine because of safeik derabanan.
Indeed, Arukh HaShulchan OC 687:4 writes that if it was already read Bein HaShemashot (as opposed to not having yet done so), then בדיעבד one is yotzei because it is a derabanan.
This case was one where it already happened – you already heard the megillah – and I would say that they can rely on the logic above, backed by the Arukh HaShulchan and the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh.
In cases of real need, one could go to a megillah reading that starts 14 minutes after Shekiah, given that for the Gra it’s already night, and the Shulchan Arukh rules that it is kosher starting at Plag, and that we are talking about a mitzvah derabanan.