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QUESTION

Maryland, USA

Wondering if we can roll out the entire Megillah across two tables, instead of folding it igeret style. We have multiple readers for each of the readings, and this would minimize contact and allow us only to have one person at the table (as opposed to having others helping to hold the klaf – especially for the women’s reading). I am wondering if it is ok to have it pre-rolled out like this? Also, can we practice the Shabbat before (after davening) with an actual megillah? (Is there a muktzeh she’eilah?) Shabbat is really the only time I can gather all the readers due to schedules and the fact that our shul shares space with school.

ANSWER

First of all – this is a great idea, if you need to have all the readers in shul (I assume based on a lack of kosher megillot to go around).

As to your questions – no, it is not muktzeh. It is a sefer that you are allowed to read from. According to Shulchan Arukh (based on Ran), they were never included in the issur muktzeh to begin with and you can move them even without any purpose. Shulchan Arukh OC 308:4,

כתבי הקודש ואוכלין, מותר לטלטלם אפי’ שלא לצורך כלל

Now, there is a Pri Chadash OC 688:6, who argues that they are muktzeh and that one cannot read them on Shabbat, since we are not allowed to do a mitzvah reading on Shabbat lest we come to carry them. All the poskim argue on this – it makes no sense. If we have done the mitzvah before (as those who would read on the 15th would do if the 15th fell out on Shabbat), then there is no concern that you will come to carry it to do the mitzvah, because you already did the mitzvah. And if the reading is on Sunday, there is no concern you will come to carry it because the mitzvah time has not yet arrived. So – there is no need to worry about this position at all. See Mishnah Berurah 308:22 and all the Achronim there.

As to hachanah – no problem, as you are actually reading from it, you are using it on the day itself, You are learning from it and gaining skill in it. You are not doing something that is only of benefit tomorrow. The poskim say that even if you have to bring it to shul on Shabbat Erev Purim, which is clearly hachanah, you are allowed to do so if you read from it a little bit, because then you are doing some use on Shabbat itself.

See in this regard, Arukh HaShulkhan OC 693:3,

כשחל פורים במוצאי שבת יש להיזהר שלא להביא את המגילה בשבת לבית הכנסת, דאסור להטריח את עצמו משבת לחול,.. אך אפשר אם יעיין בה להבין בשבת עצמה ללומדה ולדורשה, אפשר דמותר להביא, שהרי עושה זה בשביל שבת, שהרי מותר ללומדה בשבת

Machatzit HaShekel on Orach Chayim 688:10,

אם לא שילמוד מתוכה בבית הכנסת דבר מה מבעוד יום בשבת.