Can Women Read The Megillah For Men?

Orthodox Rabbi Gil Student writes:

There is a recent news item quoting R. Ovadiah Yosef as permitting women to read megillah on Purim for men (Haaretz, Arutz Sheva). This is in the news because R. Yosef recently said it publicly but it is not, in my opinion, newsworthy because he has consistently ruled like this for decades and has published this ruling multiple times in his writings (e.g. Yechaveh Da’as 3:51, 5:34; Yalkut Yosef, vol. 5 pp. 287-289).

However, I believe that there are three important comments to be made about this ruling.Click here to read more

  1. The first is that R. Yosef is clear that women may only read megillah for men when there is no man available who is able to read. This is because the Shulchan Arukh (Orach Chaim 689:2) quotes an opinion ("yesh omerim") that women cannot read for men. While the Shulchan Arukh rules like the first view, we should be concerned for the second rule when possible and not have women read for men. If a man who is able to read is not available, then we can follow the first view.
  2. Second, this ruling is only for Sephardim. Ashkenazim follow the Rema who adds to the above in Shulchan Arukh the comment that "some say" that women who read megillah recite a different blessing because their obligation is different from men.

    There are a few recent articles arguing that this only applies during the day and not at night, but they are (in not just my opinion but that of many others) entirely unconvincing. R. Aryeh Frimer, a self-described feminist and a chronicler of halakhic views on women’s issues, concludes in his article "Women’s Megilla Reading" (link): 

  3. And finally, it is not true that there is a Charedi conspiracy of chumros (strictures) to prevent women from reading megillah for men…. See also this article by R. Yehudah Henkin in which he also concludes that women may not read megillah for men: link.

See also these two article in the Torah U-Madda Journal, vol. 9:

  • R. Avi Weiss, "Women Reading the Megillah": link
  • R. Aaron Cohen, "Women Reading the Megillah for Men: A Rejoinder": link

Y. Aharon posts: None of the arguments that have been raised here against women reading the Megillah are relevant to the issue of a woman reading for women. Even the consideration of the megillah reading (as pirsumei nissa) being enhanced in the presence of a large number of men and women, i.e, in shul, doesn’t apply to the many women whose family obligations prevent them from attending the regular shul readings. Instead, they arrange for "private" readings – often by young bachurim who do not read accurately. In their case, it makes more sense to hear the reading from an adult, learned woman. That is the more honorable way which also allows them to better participate in the event, i.e. by booing Haman.

LIMER RICK POSTS:

There once was a woman from Manila
Who wanted to read the Megillah
No one would heed her
To make her the reader
Leaving her between Charybdis and Scylla

JOE SCHMO POSTS: Who says that an Askenazi Jew cannot follow the psak of R.Ovadia Yosef, an undisputed gadol and gaon of our generation?

Why does skin color or country of origin determine one’s "halachic allegiance" ? Why is there such a concept at all of ‘halachic allegiance,’ (meaning, one that persists to today when Jews are no longer cut off from other communities, or no longer live in "Ashkenaz" or "sepharad" or Poland,etc) where did it come from, what are the sources to back it up as valid in a Torah framework even now?

If ROY has daath Torah, and his reasoning on the issue is considered valid and consistent by the Jew in question who accepts his authority, and it makes more sense than a contrary opinion, why must said Jew "ally" himself with a posek of similar skin color or similar national origin from 3-10 generations ago rather than follow this psak? Not that I particularly care to hear megilla read by a woman vs. a man, but on principle I disagree with/ do not understand the premises of this discussion. Someone please explain.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Orthodoxy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.