|In the Ezrat Nashim, Women's Gallery, waiting to hear the fourth and final Megillat Ester reading for 5777.|
The reason that Megillah readings are the most difficult and stressful for me is simply because I can't do it myself. I'm also hypersensitive to noises and too easily distracted. Add those problems to my deteriorating hearing, and I need a "quiet reading." That means a reading in which there isn't noise, or very little noise, when Haman's name is said. And what happens is that there's usually an "echo" effect. The noise somehow gets dragged out another few words. And then I'm lost, miserable and even angry. Yes, I get angry on Purim.
"Why can't people aim their noise-making more accurately?" I keep muttering. "A lot of them are just copycats and start their noise-making when it should be finished."We are supposed to follow the reading word by word, which is very hard for me. If it was just a matter of attending and tuning out with my eyes closed, I could just find a corner and meditate, but that's not the case. I have discovered that sitting in the back by a wall is helpful. At least the noise can't come from all four directions.
I ended up hearing the Megillah at three different venues, by three different readers. Both nights I went to the same place where a neighbor read according to his "quiet" rules. There was moderate, bearable noise for the first and last readings of Haman's name, plus a bit of additional noise by people who hadn't heard or paid attention to the "rules." Sitting with my back to the wall helped, but I had trouble following the reading. The first morning I went to a different neighbor. The venue was very pleasant, absolutely no loud noises, but not the clearest of readings. So, there, too, I got lost a few times. The final, fourth reading I end up where I had sworn I wouldn't go. Yes, I went to our neighborhood shul, but instead of the women's later reading, I went to the early morning one. The noise wasn't all that bad, and I sat in the back of the Ezrat Nashim, Women's Gallery. And in the synagogue there was the best reading. It was very easy to follow and understand every word he said, B"H.
On Purim I certainly had enough to eat at the two festive meals. And it was great fun to see all of my grandchildren and be a guest after decades of hosting, though I did offer to host this year and even host next year.
It's good that the more drizzly day was the second day, aka Shushan Purim. The Shiloh Purim Street Festival takes place on "regular" Purim.
Now there's just a month to Passover. EEKS!