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Halachot regarding women reading megilla for men .pdf

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Can a woman fulfil a man’s obligation to read the megillah?
The starting point is that one person can only fulfil another’s personal obligation if they are at least equally
obligated in the mitzvah.
The Talmud declares that men and women have an equal obligation to read the megillah just as they have
equal obligations to celebrate Shabbat, to participate in the Seder and to light Chanukah lights.
‘Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi stated that women are obligated in the reading of the megillah because
they were also involved in the miracle.’ (Megilla 4a)
On this basis Rashi and Rambam rule that men can fulfil their obligation through the reading of women.
‘All are kosher to read the megillah. Whom does the word “all” include? It includes women.’ (Erechin
2b/3a, quoting Mishnah Megillah 2:4)
‘The word “all” comes to include women, who are obligated in the reading of the Megillah and who
are kosher to read for men and to discharge their obligation.’ (Rashi on Erechin 3a)
‘All are obliged to read it: men, women, converts and freed slaves. . . . One who reads and one who
hears the reading have both fulfilled their obligation, provided that they hear it being read by
someone who falls under the obligation. Therefore, someone who hears the megillah read by a child or
by someone who is mentally deficient (lacks the mental capacity to be obligated in mitzvot) has not
fulfilled his or her obligations.’ (Rambam Hilchot Megilla 1:1-2)
The Shulchan Aruch confirms that all are obligated to read the megillah: men and women. (Orach Chayim
There is a view held by some Rishonim, based on the Gaonic work Halachot Gedolot and cited in Tosafot on
Erechin 3a, that listening is different from reading, and that while women are obligated to listen they are not
obligated to read. This would mean that women would be unable to read for men. The Shulchan Aruch cites
this as a minority view:
‘If a deaf mute, or a minor, or a mentally-deficient person reads, someone who listens from this person
does not fulfil his obligation. There are those that say that women cannot discharge the obligation of
men.’ (Orach Chayim 689:2)
We posed the question to Rabbi Daniel Sperber, the posek for our community. Rabbi Sperber ruled that
women can certainly read for men.

Gaonim= Rabbinic authorities in Babylon soon after the Talmud was written
Rishonim = Rabbinic authorities who live after the Talmud but pre-date the Shulchan Aruch (including Rashi, Rambam and Tosofot)
Shulchan Aruch = preeminent code of Jewish law. Compiled by R. Joseph Karo (Spain and Israel 1488-1575)
Posek = Rabbi who gives halachic rulings

Kehillat Nashira and Benedict Roth, February 2017

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