According to the first opinion one can read the Megillah with breaks but not omissions. R. Muna presents a limit to the length of the break. It cannot be longer than it would take to complete the whole Megillah.
Joseph, the amora, says that the halakhah follows R. Muna. R. Joseph then explains to Abaye that “long enough to finish the whole of it” means as long as it takes to read from beginning to end. For if we interpreted “long enough to finish the whole of it” to mean from wherever he stops until the end, then the length of a permitted interruption would depend on where he stops. This would mean there is no fixed standard.
The first section here contains a dispute over who said what: Did Rav say that the halakhah follows R. Muna and Shmuel say it does not? Or was it vice versa? Variant versions of this dispute were taught in the Yeshivot in Sura and Pumbedita, two of major centers of Jewish learning in Babylonia.
Joseph uses another instance to conclude that it was Shmuel who ruled according to R. Muna. With regard to a totally different issue, Shmuel ruled according to a minority opinion, so he must be the amoraic sage who did so here as well.
The other case has to do with the laws of levirate marriage. If a woman’s husband dies and they have no children, one of his brothers must marry her or release her from levirate marriage (halitzah). Until he does so, the brothers cannot marry her sister. According to R. Judah b. Batera, this sister is prohibited from marrying all of the brothers because they all have a potential relationship with the widow. If the younger brother has already betrothed this sister, he should wait to marry her until the older brother either marries or releases the widow from marriage. At that point, the younger brother can marry the sister.
According to the first baraita here, if some letters or even some verses are missing from the Megillah, and the reader knows what he is supposed to read, he can read these individual letters or verses from heart, just as a translator translates without reading the translation. In contrast, the other baraita says that if letters are rubbed out are torn, the Megillah is valid only if the words can still be read. These two baraitot seem to contradict each other.
The Talmud resolves the contradiction by positing that the Megillah is invalid only if all of it has rubbed out letters or missing words/verses. But if most of the Megillah is still written correctly, it is valid.
This baraita provides information for someone who skips a verse or for someone who comes late to the synagogue. He needs to hear the entire Megillah, every single verse, in the proper order.
Ashi gives a pretty good definition of napping. I’ve always defined napping as how my father used to do it. When I was a kid, he would nap in front of the TV and I would try to change the station. As soon as I did so, he would wake up and tell me to put the channel back where it was.
If he falls into a deeper sleep than this while listening or reading the Megillah, he must go back and read from the beginning when he wakes up.
Most of today’s section deals with writing scrolls by memory. Is this permissible, or can one write a new scroll of Scripture only by copying an already existent one?
The mishnah says that if someone is writing a Megillah, and when reading it has intention to fulfill his obligation, then he has fulfilled his obligation.
The Talmud examines how this could have occurred. If he was thinking of each verse in his head, and then writing it down from memory, then even if he had intention he has not fulfilled his obligation, because he is not reading it from a scroll. The scroll was not yet written when he recited it.
Rather, he must first write each verse and then recite it. This is not the normal way of writing a scroll, but if he wishes to fulfill his obligation, this is how he must do it.
The problem with the scenario as we understood it above is that the Megillah must be entirely written before he begins to read it. Later in the Talmud we shall see that some tannaim hold that one need not read the entire Megillah; he can start from 2:5 (and some hold even later). Nevertheless, even those tannaim who hold that one can start later in the book, the parts that must be read must be written before any of the reading begins.
Therefore, the mishnah must refer to a case where he is not writing a scroll from memory. He is copying from a book that he already has in front of him. First he reads it, verse by verse, then he writes the new scroll. This would be a normal way of copying a scroll.
Above, we interpreted the mishnah to refer to a case where one copies the Megillah from another scroll. It is at first suggested that this supports R. Yohanan who said that it is forbidden to write a Megillah except based on an already existent scroll.
The Talmud rejects the use of the Mishnah as proof, for it may be that the Mishnah just happens to refer to a case where a person copies from such a scroll. One could theoretically write a Megillah from memory, but one would not be able to fulfill one’s obligation to hear the Megillah while doing so.
The Talmud now discusses R. Yohanan’s prohibition against writing a Megillah by heart. This statement is contradicted by a story in which R. Meir goes to Assia (Turkey) to add a month to the year. While there during the month of Adar, he sees that they do not have a Megillah and he writes one by heart. Thus we seem to see that one can write a Megillah by heart.
Abbahu says that R. Meir is different for R. Meir’s eyes are “straight.” This is interpreted to mean that when R. Meir lifts his eyes away from Torah, the Torah remains “straight before him.” He can reproduce it correctly. In contrast, others, when their eyes fly away from Torah, it is gone, and they cannot produce it correctly. Only R. Meir was allowed to write a Megillah from memory. All others must copy it from an already existent copy.
The Talmud now cites a story where R. Hisda prohibits R. Hananel from writing scrolls by heart, even though R. Hananel could certainly do so. This seems to mean that even exceptional individuals may not write scrolls by heart.
But R. Meir did write a Megillah in Assia. If this was forbidden, how did he do so?
The answer is that it is permitted only in a case of an emergency. In Assia there was no other Megillah from which to copy, so he had to write one by heart.
Tefillin and mezuzot are not like full scrolls. They contain familiar verses and therefore may be written from memory. Tefillin may be written on unlined parchment, but mezuzot require lines.