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Megilah, 4

MEGILAH 2-5 (Elul 27-Rosh Hashanah 5760) - have been dedicated by Dr. Jack and Sarah Dimenstein of Zurich Switzerland. May they be blessed with a year of health and prosperity, physical and spiritual!


QUESTION: Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi rules that women are obligated in the Mitzvah of Mikra Megilah. Tosfos points out that even though our Gemara says that they are obligated in the Mitzvah, the Tosefta says that they cannot read the Megilah for men. Why not? If they are obligated in the Mitzvah, why can they not be Motzi men?


(a) The RITVA says that the words of the Tosefta are in error. Our Gemara says clearly that women are obligated in the Mitzvah, and thus they can be Motzi men. This is also the view of RASHI (Erchin 3a, DH la'Asuyei), who rules that a woman may read for a man. This implies that a woman's obligation is the same as a man's.

(b) TOSFOS in Sukah (38a, DH b'Emes Amru), citing the BEHAG, says that women are not able to be Motzi a *Tzibur* (a large group) of men because of Kavod ha'Tzibur (it is a lack of Tzniyus). However, a women is able to be Motzi an individual man alone.

(c) TOSFOS here (DH Nashim, and in Erchin 3a, DH la'Asuyei) understand the Behag differently. He says that the BEHAG means to say that women can only be Motzi other women, but not men. What, then, is the point of telling us that they are obligated in the Mitzvah? The Chidush is that women only have an obligation to *hear* the Megilah, and not to *read* it. We might have thought that they need someone who is also obligated to *read* the Megilah to be Motzi them. Therefore, the Gemara teaches that they fulfill their obligation by hearing the Megilah read by another woman. Men, on the other hand, are obligated to *read* the Megilah, and therefore women cannot be Motzi men.

What is the logic behind the separate nature of the obligation for women and for men?

The MARCHESHES (Hagaon Rav Henoch Eigis of Vilna, may Hashem avenge his death), explains that the reading of the Megilah is made up of two components: (1) reading as a Zechirah (verbal declaration of remembrance) of Mechiyas Amalek (see Megilah 18a; the Avnei Nezer also infers this from a Yerushalmi). (2) Pirsumei Nisa (publicizing the miracle of Purim). The Marcheshes explains that a woman is obligated only in the component of Pirsumei Nisa, since they were part of the miracle of Purim; a woman is not obligated to read the Megilah in order to fulfill Mechiyas Amalek, because only one who is obligated to go out to war against Amalek is obligated in the Mitzvah of Zechiras Mechiyas Amalek (Chinuch, Mitzvah #603; see also Or Same'ach, Hilchos Megilah 1:1, who explains in a similar manner).


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