Thursday, January 3, 2008

Women's Obligation in Seudos Shabbos

There is a machlokes amongst the rishonim as to why women are obligated in the seudos shabbos. Is it not a mitzvas aseh shehazman gerama? In the Sefer HaYashar of Rabbeinu Tam Chelek HaTeshuvos Siman 70:4, Rabbeinu Tam says the reason for their chiyuv is because "af hein hayu b'oso hanes" (they too experienced the miracle [i.e. of the manna]). The Ramban in Shabbos 117b argues that the reason is that in all "maaseh shabbos" men and women are equal. (See the Ran there in Meseches Shabbos who says, "kol sheyeshno b'shamor yeshno b'zachor d'shamor v'zachor b'dibbur echad neemru etc.)

Let us now pose the following question: are women obligated in the mitzvah of oneg shabbos? According to the Ramban, the answer appears to be yes, for men and women are equal in all maaseh shabbos. I heard the following approach in Rabbeinu Tam, however. Rabbeinu Tam, in fact, held that women are not obligated in the mitzvah of oneg shabbos. However, it is clear from the gemara in Pesachim 99b (mentioned in our previous post) that women are, nevertheless, obligated in the meals of shabbos. This is evident from the fact that the gemara had a gezairah on all people, men and women, not to eat on erev shabbos (in order to eat the meals in a preferable manner). Rabbeinu Tam therefore derived from this that the chiyuv of seudos shabbos cannot be part of the chiyuv of oneg shabbos. As we said in the previous post, the Yeraim (R' Eliezer Mimitz) seems to hold this way, that the chiyuv of seudos shabbos is not related to the chiyuv of oneg shabbos. The Yeraim was, in fact, a talmid of Rabbeinu Tam, and this could help explain his shittah.

However, the idea of saying that women are not obligated in oneg shabbos is not so simple because, of course we all know, that women light shabbos candles. That obligation is part of the inyan of kavod shabbos. It would seem logical that if women are obligated in kavod shabbos, they are obligated in oneg, as well.