Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Women Reading Megillah For Men

There are at least six potential problems that could arise from women reading the megillah to be motzee men:

1. Kol B'Isha Ervah - This is a problem according to the opinion of the Kol Bo (45). It would seem that not everyone agrees this is the case. One proof against the Kol Bo could be from the gemara in Megillah 23a where women are only prohibited from being called up to read the torah due to kavod hatzibbur. Otherwise it seems to be permitted.

2. Kavod Hatzibbur - The Mishna Berurah 689:7 says that just like women do not read from the torah to the congregation because of kavod hatzibbur they also should not read from the megillah.

3. The obligation for women is only to hear the megillah, whereas the obligation for men is to actually read the megillah. Thus, the obligation for women is on a lesser level than for men and the general rule is that a lesser obligated person cannot be motzee a person obligated at a greater level. This position is taken by Tosafos in Megillah 4a and is the subject of a machlokes rishonim.

4. Some acharonim say that the obligation for men is in the category of divrei kabbalah, whereas women are only obligated m'drabbanan. Divrei kabbalah would be a higher level of rabbinic obligation, and thus women could not be motzee men. This is the opinion of the Turei Even and the Ohr Sameach (Megillah 4a).

5. The Avnei Nezer in O.C. 511 says that the reading of the Megillah also fulfills the obligation of zechiras mechiyas amalek which women are not obligated in (because they don't need to wipe out amalek). Thus, once again, since they are not obligated they cannot be motzee one who is.

6. The Gra in Y.D. 178:7 holds that which Jews would not have done on their own, but are only doing to imitate the gentiles is a problem of b'chukosehem lo selechu. Thus, some have argued that here too, if the woman is reading for the man in order to imitate the ways of the goyim this could be a problem.

*For more on this subject see Rabbi Alfred Cohen's article on this subject in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society Volume 30. And, once again, for final rulings call your local halachic expert.