All in One Breath: Ten Sons of Haman

Ask the Rov: Is it preferable to read the names slower to ensure that I read them all from inside?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah

Chazal say that the names of Haman’s ten sons should be recited in one breath to indicate that they we all hanged together and died at once.1

Rishonim extend this to the previous words, “five hundred men.” Although these men weren’t killed simultaneously with the sons of Haman, the ten sons were the “chiefs of fifties” over these 500 people.2 If one assesses that he won’t manage to make it all the way through, he should just begin from the ten sons.3

It is customary for the congregation to also read the names of the ten sons to themselves prior to the baal korei. One explanation offered by the Rogatchover Gaon is that while the baal korei can be motzi the congregation with the reading of the words through shomei’a k’oneh, he cannot be motzi them with his “one breath.”4 Others explain that this is to ensure they hear all the words since the baal korei reads them quickly, or due to the noise made by the children during the reading of the names.5

If one didn’t read them in one breath, Tosafos rules that one is yotzei, while the Raavya writes that one was possibly not yotzei and should read them again.6 The Rama rules that one is yotzei b’dieved, and poskim add that he can still fulfill the directive by repeating it in one breath.7

When reading quickly, the baal korei must makes sure to read all the words from inside — each one with the corresponding “v’eis.” If the rush to read it in one breath will cause him to read some of the words by heart, is it preferable to read them slower in more than one breath?

The halacha is that following either option, he will be yotzei b’dieved.8 Some poskim prefer trying to read the names in one breath due to the Raavya’s view that one’s obligation may not be fulfilled without this.9 Yet others hold that we aren’t concerned for the Raavya’s view and it is therefore better to focus on reading it from inside so that the kriah should be proper.10

See Sources (open PDF)

From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash

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  1. If you take into consideration the mishna berura’s “chap” that if it’s ok if the megila is missing words, it’s also ok to say some words outside. It would seem that it would be better to read them in one breath, as the missing a word from inside becomes a non-issue.

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