Volume 35 Number 94
                 Produced: Thu Feb 21  5:45:51 US/Eastern 2002

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Women's Megilla Readings and Women and Minyan for Megilla
         [Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer]


From: Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2002 15:18:40 +0200
Subject: Women's Megilla Readings and Women and Minyan for Megilla

                        WOMEN'S MEGILLA READINGS
                        (Note: Women for Women!)

               Excerpted from: "WOMEN'S PRAYER SERVICES -
                  THEORY AND PRACTICE", Part 1: Theory
                  by Aryeh A. Frimer and Dov I. Frimer
               Tradition, 32:2, pp. 5-118 (Winter 1998).
     Available at: http://mail-jewish.org/Womens_Prayer_Service.doc

 a) Many leading poskim have concurred that there is no halakhic problem
with women reading Megillah for themselves, individually or in a large
group; see:

(1) In October 1985, R. Chaim Spring requested R. Mordechai Tendler to
discuss with R. Moshe Feinstein the propriety of a women's Megillah
reading held yearly in Rehovot, Israel; R. Tendler answered that R.
Feinstein had no objections to such a reading.
(2) Ma'aleh Adumim Chief Rabbis Joshua Katz and Mordecai Nagari,
Ma'alot, no. 185, Parshat Tetsaveh 5756, Halakhah Sedurah, sec. B, no. 5
and conversation with Dov I. Frimer, March 23, 1996 - this ruling was
reprinted the following year as well in Ma'alot, Parshat va-Yikra 5757,
Halakhah Sedurah;
(3) R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin, "Mahu Kavod ha-Tsibbur," Hadarom, 55 (Elul
5746) p. 33-41 (see especially top of page 37) - expanded and revised in
Resp. Bnei Vanim, II, no. 10; R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin, Tsibbur Nashim
be-Keri'at ha-Megillah, Keshot, 4 (Adar II/Nisan 5755), sec 14, p. 8-10
- reprinted in Resp. Bnei Vanim, III, sec. 7;
(4) R. Gedaliah Felder, cited by R. Henkin in Hadarom, ibid. In a
conversation with Aryeh A. Frimer, April 29, 1992, R. Henkin reaffirmed
the accuracy of this citation, despite its omission in the revised Bnei
Vanim presentation of this responsum. Similar opinions have been orally
expressed by (in alphabetical order):
(5) R. David Cohen, conversation with R. Shael I. Frimer, March 1979,
and to Aryeh A. Frimer, March 1980;
(6) R. David Feinstein, conversation with Aryeh A. Frimer and Noach
Dear, March 26, 1991, and to Aryeh A. Frimer, Dov I. Frimer and Noach
Dear, March 19, 1995;
(7) R. Levi Yitzchak ha-Levi Horowitz, The Bostoner Rebbi, conversation
with Mr. Noach Dear, March 1990 - however, on April 13th, 1997, the
Rebbi's gabbai, Nesanel Peterman, wrote the following: "Since the Rebbi
considered this issue in the early 1990's, the whole question of women's
'rights' has become more complex and the Rebbi would like to consider
the wider issues further."
(8) R. Aharon Lichtenstein, conversation with R. Chaim Brovender, March
1992 and February 1994, and to Dov I. Frimer, October 21, 1992 and
February 19, 1994, also permits a women's Megillah reading.
Nevertheless, R. Lichtenstein does advise Jerusalemite women not to hold
such a reading when the fifteenth of Adar falls on Shabbat (known as
Purim meshulash). In such an instance, Jerusalemites read on the
fourteenth and many posekim maintain that, since this reading is not on
its normally designated date, a minyan is an absolute requirement. (In
all other years, a minyan is advisable but not a prerequisite to
fulfillment.) While most authorities agree that ten women do constitute
a minyan for mikra Megillah even on Purim meshulash, a minority dissent
(see A.A. Frimer, "Women and Minyan", Tradition 23:4 (Summer 1988), p.
54-77). R. Lichtenstein maintains, therefore, that it is best to be
stringent so as to be sure that one's obligation has been fulfilled. Rav
Aharon explained that the Rov (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik) preferred
that women be machmir for the same reasons (to be yotzei kol ha-dei'ot
lekhathila) every year. Hence, the Rov preferred that women did not have
their own service for mikra Megillah.
(9) R. Aaron Soloveitchik, in a taped conversation with Dov I. Frimer,
July 8, 1997, ruled that in those communities, such as in Israel, where
there is already an established custom to have a second Megillah reading
for women, it is irrelevant whether the reader is male or female.
Elsewhere, where such a minhag is not so common, a special women's
Megillah reading should not be permitted (for hashkafic and public
policy reasons). Should the local rabbi be afraid, however, that a rift
in the community might result, he should refrain from taking any
position whatsoever on the matter.
 (10) R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yabia Omer, VIII, O.H., sec. 56, end of no. 4
writes: "...Resp. Mishneh Halakhot (Mahadurah Tanyana, I, O.H., sec 550)
challenges the custom of women who make a minyan by themselves for mikra
Megillah...On the contrary, the aforementioned custom should be
encouraged." The cited Resp. Mishneh Halakhot deals with a custom in
which one woman reading the Megillah for all the women present. Thus the
implication of R. Yosef's teshuvah seems to be that he approves of this
custom in its entirety. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out for
accuracy that this responsum deals with the question of women counting
for a minyan for mikra Megillah - not with the question of whether women
can read for other women. Indeed, R. Ovadiah Yosef never tackles this
latter question head on in any of his writings, though neither does he
rule it out either, despite his many opportunities to do so. This is
presumably because he maintains that by law (me-tsad ha-din) women can
read even for men; though he permits it in practice only if there are no
other viable options (bi-she'at ha-dehak); see: Yehaveh Da'at, V, sec.
34, note 2, p. 162; Me-Shiurei Maran ha-Rishon le-Tsiyon Rabbenu Ovadiah
Yosef Shlita, I, Gilyon 19, va-Yerah 5756, sec. 2; Me'or Yisrael, I,
Megillah 4a, s.v. "Tosafot d"h nashim"; Yalkut Yosef, V, Dinei Keri'at
ha-Megillah, sec. 12, p. 287; Kitsur Shulkhan Arukh Yalkut Yosef, sec.
689, no. 7. Indeed, following his fathers analysis, his son R. David
Yosef, Torat ha-Moadim: Hilkhot u-Minhagei Purim ve-Hodesh Adar, sec.
5., note 9, p. 139, s.v ve-ha-Rama, indicates that despite the rulings
of Magen Avraham and Korban Netanel, Ashkenazi (and certainly Sefardi)
women can read for other women. We note that the Torat ha-Moadim comes
with an approbation of R. Ovadiah Yosef in which he indicates that he
reviewed the entire book carefully;. hence, we can correctly conclude
that he approves of women's megillah readings.
(11) R. Ariel Pikar, Tehumin 18 (5758), pp. 361-368.
(12) R. Raphael Evers, Resp. vaShav veRafa, O.H., sec. 31.
(13) Beersheba Chief Rabbi Elijah Katz, haEshel (Bita'on haMoetsa
haDatit Be'er Sheva), XIII (Nissan 5736), pp. 41, 42 and 48.
(14) Rabbi Jacob Ariel maintains that while basically women can read for
other women, because of "pirsumei nisa", they should not specifically
break off from the rest of the community to do so - unless necessary or
in an instance where a separate reading for women would take place
anyway; see: Rabbi Jacob Ariel, Resp. beOhalah shel Torah, II, O.H.,
sec. 105 and his comments in Moshe Stern, Megillat haAtasma'ut, Mekor
Rishon, 7 Adar 5761 (March 2, 2001) p. 16-17.

 (b) The above poskim (in section a) reject two often quoted rulings:
The first is that of the Magen Avraham (O.H. 689:2, sec. 6) who, based
on a Midrash Ne'elam Ruth, advised women to hear the Megillah only from
men. Although cited by the Mishnah Berurah, O.H. 689:2, sec. 8, the
Magen Avraham is seriously challenged by him in the Sha'ar ha-Tsiyun no.
16, ad loc. See also R. Moshe Harari, Mikra'ei Kodesh - Hilkhot Purim,
chap. 6, parag. 8, note 29 (in the name of former Chief Rabbi Mordechai
Eliyahu) and R. Nahman Kahana, Orhot Hayyim, O.H. 689:2 note 6.
 The second ruling is that of the Korban Netanel (R. Netanel Weil, gloss
to Rosh, Megillah, chap. 1, sec. 4, note 40) who, based on the Tosafot
(Sukkah 38a, s.v. "be-Emet Amru"), indicates that it is a breach of
propriety (zila milta) for a woman to read Megillah for a group of
women. The Korban Netanel is cited by the Mishnah Berurah, ibid., Sha'ar
ha-Tsiyun no. 15 and Kaf ha-Hayyim, O.H. ibid., no. 17. Nevertheless,
the aforementioned poskim(cited in section a) as well as many others
(cited in section d infra) argue that the Korban Netanel misunderstood
the Tosafot who were in fact discussing the impropriety of a woman's
reading of the Megillah before a community of men. This understanding of
the Tosafot has been confirmed by the text in the Tosafot ha-Rosh (ad
loc.) who explicitly refers to men. According to this approach, the
Tosafot's "zila milta" is in fact only a slightly different formulation
of the Kavod ha-Tsibbur concept applied to keri'at ha-Torah (Megillah
23a; Shulhan Arukh O.H. 282:3). See also R. Chaim Zalman Dimitrovsky,
Rashba, Megillah 4a, s.v. "ve-Amar R. Yehoshua", note 431; the related
comments of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik in Reshimot Shiurim, R. Tsvi
Joseph Reichman ed. [New York, 4749], Sukkah 38a, p. 184, s.v. "bram
le-fi ha-Tosafot"; Otsar Mefarshei ha-Talmud, Sukkah, vol. 2, 38a, s.v.
"I nami meshum".

 (c) As pointed out above, several posekim - in addition to those cited
in sections (a) and (b) - have taken issue with the Korban Netanel.
Hence, R. Jacob Zev Kahana, Resp. Toldot Ya'akov, sec. 5; R. Jehiel
Michel Tucazinsky, Lu'ah Erets Yisrael, Purim de-Prazim; and R. Shlomo
Zalman Auerbach, cited in Halikhot Beitah, Petah ha-Bayit, sec. 25 - all
maintain that one woman may make berakhot for many others. We note,
however, that R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, as recorded in a personal
written communication from his nephew, R. Yitshak Mordecai Rubin, to R.
Asher Viner (Kislev 5794), was, nevertheless, unwilling to permit a
women's Megillah reading, though he does not state exactly why. The
following posekim also set aside the view of the Korban Netanel: R.
Gavriel Zinner, Nitei Gavriel - Dinei u-Minhagei Purim, sec. 13, no. 9,
note 14; R. Zvi Kohen, Purim ve-Hodesh Adar, sec. 10, no. 17; R. Haim
David Halevi, Mekor Hayyim le-Benot Yirael, sec. 34, nos. 6 and 7; and
R. Moses Mordecai Karp, Zer Aharon - Inyanei Purim, Jerusalem: Oraysah,
5749, sec. 21, no. 7, who writes: "All the posekim have stated simply
that a woman can read for other women, and it would seem so even for
many women". See also R. Karp's, Hilkhot Hag be-Hag: Purim, sec. 7, no.
3, note 7, p. 60, where he states: "See the Sha'ar ha-Tsiyyun who writes
in the name of the Korban Netanel that a woman should not read for many
women because of zila milta. This does not seem to be the view of other
posekim." These four authors indicate, however, that, because of the
Medrash Ne'elam, a women's Megillah reading is not preferred; it is,
nevertheless, permitted if necessary. See also Arukh ha-Shulkhan, O.H.,
sec. 271, no. 5, and R. Ben-Tsiyon Lichtman, Bnei Tsiyon, IV, O.H., sec.
271, no. 3, s.v. "ve-Ra'iti," who also disagree with the Korban
Netanel's understanding of Tosafot, though their stance on a women's
Megillah reading is unknown.

 (d) Both of the past Chief Rabbis of Israel have published opinions
against women's Megillah readings: former Sefardic Chief Rabbi R.
Mordechai Eliyahu is quoted by R. Moshe Harari, Mikra'ei Kodesh -
Hilkhot Purim, chap. 6, parag. 8, note 30; former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi
Abraham Kahana Shapira is quoted by his assistant Zalman Koitner, in a
letter distributed by a group called "Women of Efrat for the Achdut of
Halakhah" and published in the newspaper Yom ha-Shishi, 15 Adar 5791
(March 1, 1991), p. 8. This letter indicates that although
"...halakhically, a woman can read for other women", nevertheless "one
should not change the prevalent custom" which has followed the more
stringent ruling of the Mishnah Berurah (Korban Netanel). R. Menashe
Klein also dissents: see, Mishneh Halakhot, mahadurah tanyana, vol. 1,
O.H. sec 550. As noted in sec. a, the Rov (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik)
preferred that women be machmir in order to be yotzei kol ha-de'ot.

          Excerpted from: "Women and Minyan," Aryeh A. Frimer,
                 Tradition, 23:4, 54-77 (Summer 1988).
        Available at: http://mail-jewish.org/Women_and_Minyan.doc

The consensus of leading aharonim is that ten women alone indeed do
constitute a proper minyan for both the reading of the Megillah (in a
regular year and even on Purim Meshulash) and reciting of the ha-rav et
riveinu benediction. See:

 R. Mas'ud Raphael Alfasi, Resp. Mash'ha de-Rabbevata, addenda at end of
II, sec. 689.
 R. Joseph Hayyim al-Hakam of Baghdad, Resp. Rav Pe'alim, O.H. II, sec.
 R. Moses Hayyim Lits Rosenbaum, Sha'arei Emet, 3, Hilkhot Megillah,
Hemdat Aryeh 4:5.
 R. Jacob Israel Algazi, Hug ha-Arets, sec. 3.
 R. Joseph Hayyim Sonnenfeld, Resp. Salmat Hayyim, I, sec. 101.
 R. Zevi Pesah Frank, Mikra'ei Kodesh, Purim, sec. 35 and 50 (note 3).
 R. Avraham Yeshayahu Karelitz, Hazon Ish, O.H. sec. 155, no. 2.
 R. Isaac Halberstadt, Shnai Sarei ha-Kodesh, p. 16.
 R. Sraya Devlitsky, Purim Meshulash chap. 2, parag. 8 and 9 and
addendum thereto.
 R. Hanoch Zundel Grossberg, Iggeret ha-Purim, first edition chap. 7,
parag. 2, second edition chap. 8, parag. 3.
R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yabia Omer, VIII, O.H. sec. 23, no. 27 and sec. 56,
end of no. 4; R. Ovadiah Yosef, Likkutei Kol Sinai, p. 47, sec. 23; R.
Yitschak Yosef, Yalkut Yosef, second edition, Hilkhot Mikra Megillah 7.
 R. Eliezer Waldenberg, Resp. Tsits Eliezer XIII, sec. 73.
 R. Joseph Shalom Eliashiv (personal written communication to AAF, 27
Adar 5754, March 10, 1994).
 Questioner in Resp. Mishneh Halakhot, Mahadurah Tanyana, vol. 1, O.H.
sec. 550.
 R. Joel Schwartz, Adar u-Furim, chap. 8, sec. 5, parag. 2 and 3 and
note 11.
 R. David Auerbach, Halikhot Beita chap. 24, sec. 17-21 and notes 33,
34, 44 and 48.
R. Moses Mordecai Karf, Hilkhot Hag be-Hag: Purim, chap. 8, parag. 13
and 14 note 32 and addendum to chap. 8, parag. 13 note 31, p. 218.
 R. Yehudah Herzl Henkin, Tsibbur Nashim be-Keri'at ha-Megillah, Keshot,
4 (Adar II/Nisan 5755), sec 14, p. 8-10.
 Rabbis Joshua Katz and Mordechai Nagari, Ma'alot, no. 185, Parshat
Tetsaveh 5756; Halakhah Sedurah, sec. B, no. 5.

 However, other poskim dissent:
 R. Shlomoh Kluger, Hokhmat Shlomoh O.H. 689:5.
 R. Hayyim Sofer, Kaf ha-Hayyim O.H. 690:120.
 R. Jehiel Mikhel Epstein, Arukh ha-Shulhan O.H. 690:25.
 Rabbi Menashe Klein, Resp. Mishneh Halakhot, Mahadurah Tanyana, vol. 1,
O.H. sec. 550.
R. M. Feinstein [quoted by R. Dovid Katz, "A Guide to Practical
Halakha - Chanuka and Purim" (New York: Traditional Press, 1979), VIII,
Laws of Purim, sec. 14, no. 15, p. 134].
 R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach cited by R. Nahum Stepansky, veAleihu Lo
Yibol, I, O.H., sec. 431.
 R. Raphael Evers, Resp. vaShav veRafa, O.H., sec. 31 suggests that the
minhag is to be stringent.

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
E-mail: <FrimeA@...>
Tel: 972-3-5318610; Fax: 972-3-5351250
Tel Home: 972-8-9473819/9470834


End of Volume 35 Issue 94