Sunday, February 11, 2007


Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi ruled: It is obligatory for women to hear the reading of the Megilla, because they benefited also by the same miracle (Haman’s decree to kill all the Jewish people included the women).

The Rishonim dispute whether a woman can read the Megillah and discharge the obligation for a man. Rashi (Eruchin 3a) maintains that she could and Tosfos cites a Behag that she cannot. There are those that explain the Behag that he holds that a woman is only obligated to hear the Megillah but not to read it. Rashi’s viewpoint is easily understood by the fact that the Gemora explicitly states that women are obligated in the reading of the Megillah. The Beis Yosef (O”C 689) writes that according to the Behag, the correct version in the Gemora is that women are obligated to hear the Megillah.

Mishna Berura (689:13) writes that the reason a woman cannot read the Megillah on behalf of a man is because it is similar to Kerias HaTorah, where a woman is disqualified because of public dignity.

The Eshkol offers a different explanation and states that a woman cannot read the Megillah for a man because of the prohibition of “kol b’isha ervoh.”

The Imrei Baruch explains the viewpoint of the Behag why women will only be obligated to hear the Megillah and not to read it. The Gemora below (14a) states that the prophets offered a kal vachomer argument in creating an obligation to read the Megillah. If the Jews, who were liberated from slavery in Mitzrayim and brought to freedom, sang praises to Hashem when they saw the Egyptians drowning; certainly we should commemorate our deliverance from death to life. That is why we read the Megillah publicly, where we are thanking Hashem for saving us from Haman’s decree. There is a distinction, however, between the way the men sang praise and the way the women sang. Moshe recited each phrase and all the male Jews repeated after him. The women did not sing; Miriam said each phrase and they responded with musical instruments, not with singing. According to this, we can say that the same distinction should apply by Megillah. The men, who sang songs of praise by the sea, have an obligation to read the Megillah; the women who only heard the songs of praise have an obligation to hear the Megillah, but not to read it.


Anonymous said...

before I challenge this, how does he know that only Miriam sang and not the other women?

Avromi said...

Diyuk in Rashi chumash that he doesn't say "v'hen onin achareha" like he says by the men.

Anonymous said...


Avromi said...

however, i have diyuk from yalkut 241 that seems to imply that all the women recited shirah.

Jonathan said...

Seems to me that there is a flaw in this argument.

Miriam was a woman and she sang (presumsably in the hearing of the entire congregation).