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QUESTION

Canada

If a ba’al korei gets an important call mid-megillah that they can’t ignore, can they continue the megillah from when the call came in or do they need to repeat the megillah? Should they repeat the berakhot?

ANSWER

The general halakha is that even a large interruption – כדי לגמור את כולה – is bedieved okay in the case of megillah (and pretty much everything else) – see Shulchan Arukh OC 690:5 and Rema. However, as Mishnah Berurah 690:18 points out, we find in Hilkhot Keriat Shema (Shulchan Arukh OC 65:1) that if the interruption was מחמת אונס, due to something out of your control, you do have to go back if the break is long enough כדי לגמור את כולו, to finish the entire recitation. He assumes the same would be true here regarding megillah. The reasoning behind this is that only if you can control it and choose to go back, then it isn’t a real hefseik. (Arukh HaShulchan OC 690:10 questions how clear it is that our case is comparable to Keriat Shema, and argues that it is possible that nothing is ever a hefseik by megillah).

Let’s assume we are dealing with a real אנוס. Say he’s a doctor and it’s the hospital calling, or his wife is about to give birth and she is calling, or he’s been waiting a long time trying to get a vaccine appointment, or anything of that nature. Would that mean that he does have to start again from the beginning if it is כדי לגמור את כולו?

The short answer is no, he would not have to start again, but it would, in my opinion, be ideal if he did so if he were just reading for himself. Here’s why:

Mishnah Berurah 65:2 points out that many poskim rule that אונס is a problem is only when the אונס is internally generated, or there is a halakhic problem with him reading, e.g., the person has to go to the bathroom urgently, so he can’t lein right now halakhically. However, if the אונס is external, e.g., there are robbers or a fire, then it is not a hefseik. This case is an external אונס, and there is no halakhic problem with him reading now, so it should be fine even if you wait כדי לגמור את כולו.

So why is it not ideal to continue from where he left off? Because this distinction between types of אונס is not stated in Shulchan Arukh and there are shitot that even an external אונס requires re-reading if it is כדי לגמור את כולו. See Arukh HaShulchan OC 65:4 who raises this concern that every אונס (excluding those that are a person’s choice) creates a hefseik. In the end, though, he puts it aside and rules that an external אונס that does not create halakhic inability does not create a hefseik,

ובודאי להלכה אנו תופסים כדעת רוב רבותינו לחלק בין אונס ללא אונס ובארנו דגם ליסטים מקרי אונס ודוקא כשהעיכוב היה מחמת עצמו כגון שרצה להפסיק או הפסיק מחמת מריבה שהיה בידו שלא להפסיק זה לא מקרי אונס אבל כל שהעיכוב מחמת אחרים מקרי אונס
אמנם דעת הראב”ד והמאור הוא דאונס לא מקרי אא”כ לא היה יכול ע”פ דין להתפלל כגון שמשתין או המקום אינו נקי אבל שארי מיני אונסין לא נחשב אונס כלל לענין זה
ולכן לדינא בתפלה… אבל בשארי דברים נקטינן כהראב”ד והמאור וגם בתוס’ משמע כן [וכ”כ המג”א סק”ב]:

Bottom line – This is a case of an external אונס. Although in general אונס is defined as a hefseik and requires the person to read again if it were כדי לגמור את כולו, that is limited to cases of internal/halakhic אונס and would not apply to this case. So there is no need to go back to the beginning. Continue where you left off.

However, given those who argue that אונס creates a hefseik even when it is external, it might be a good idea, as a chumrah, to read from the beginning if he is just reading for himself and it is not an undue tirchah. You should not make brakhot again, since me’ikkar ha’din you do not have to go back.

If it is a case of reading for a tzibbur, you should definitely continue from where you left off. Reading from the beginning in this case is only a chumrah at it cannot be done at the expense of the tzibbur.