Megillot and Cases
Megillat Esther, or Book of Esther, tells the story of the Jews in Persia during Achashverosh’s kingship. At the center is Queen Esther and Mordechai, who thwarted evil Haman’s plan of killing every living Jew. According to Halacha, Jewish law, the Megilla must be read both at night as well as on the morning of Purim.
Megillah, in Hebrew, means “scroll.” While it is not mandatory to read the book of Esther from an actual scroll parchment, many choose to procure an actual scroll and a matching case. While, again, this is by no means obligatory, it shows eagerness to keep this important commandment. You can choose a Megillah in different sizes and materials. More importantly, if the type of script is important to you, you can choose from a megillah in k’tav Arizal, Beit Yosef or Eidot Hamizrach.
The different styles of k’tav, or script, generally follow the geographical dispersion of the Diaspora over the centuries. Ashkenazis form Germany, England, Russia and Lithuania generally use the Beis Yosef script, while Polish, Romanians and Hungarians, among others, use the Ari Zal version, which is Hassidic. Sephardi Jews from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Morocco and North Africa generally use the Vellish script. For many, it is of utmost importance to use the style that was customary in the country or area from which their family originates. As always, in case of a doubt, a Rabbi may and should be consulted.
The Megillah-case plays a double role: it keeps the Megillah intact throughout the year, and it serves an aesthetic purpose. During the year, many like to use the cased magillah as a showpiece or home accessory. This is due to the fact that many cases are beautiful and very striking. There are different cases that vary in size, material and, of course, price. If every piece of Judaica you own is made of Sterling Silver and you refuse to even conceive of the possibility of owning a non-silver Judaica, like many silver-fanatics, you can find a sterling silver Megilla case.
If you want to go really extravagant, you can opt for a hexagonal, sterling silver and gold Megillah case with a Hebrew inscription and an image of Jerusalem’s walls in gold. But if your budget will not allow you to purchase something like that, you can go for a cheaper option, like silver-plated, or certain types of wood. There are gorgeous wooden Megillah cases that combine silver, if you insist on the latter. If you like wood, a recent trend is Megillah case embellished with inlaid wooden mosaics on six sides. If placed on a mantelpiece, this amazing Megillah-case is likely to be mistaken for a work of art.
Megillot & Cases Guide
The Story of Queen Esther is one of the most dramatic in the Bible. Listening to the story, which is read in synagogue on Purim, is one of the Mitzvoth, or commandment that Jews that Jews perform during the Purim holiday. Many Jews prefer to own their own scroll and usually these scroll are stores in ornate, yet sturdy cases.
Queen Esther has also inspired Israeli jewelry artists, discover the symbolism between Esther and Star of David necklace in our Jewish blog.
What is a Megillah?
The term Megillah actually means a scroll, but it is usually interpreted to mean the story of Esther. The case is the storage receptacle for the Megillah scroll when it is not being used.
The scroll is made from parchment and is written on in black ink. The case may be made of several different materials, the most common of which are wood, sterling silver, leather and velvet.
The actual Megillah scroll, like the Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzahs are governed by specific rules in Jewish law and therefore the only variations possible regarding the actual Hebrew text is slight variations on script used. The case, however, can be decorated with almost anything imaginable.
Megillah cases are usually decorated with designs relating to Purim, such as masks and crowns. They have the Hebrew words “Megillat Esther” or “Scroll of Esther” on the front and can be in any font.
Wood and Leather cases, the most affordable cases after velvet cases, are usually embossed with the text of the Megillah. Solid wood cases are made from hardwoods such as oak, spruce and mahogany, although they also are made of bamboo. These cases are very often overlaid with silver panels that are decorated with engraved designs. There are also wood cases that are painted with depictions of Jerusalem, a Persian skyline and objects used on Purim.
Cloth Megillah cases are the simplest and most affordable case and have the words “Megillat Esther” embroidered in them together with a simple floral pattern and crown. It should be noted that these cases can be any color, although they are typically black or navy blue.
Sterling silver Megillah cases are the most expensive but also the most elaborately decorated cases. In addition to having the words “Megillat Esther” engraved into them, they also are engraved with floral patterns and geometric patterns such as diamonds and other shapes.
Like most Judaica objects, Megillah cases can be personalized with engravings of names if from silver. If made from wood, they may be painted with depictions of Judaica or with names.