Halacha for Wednesday 6 Adar 5778 February 21 2018

The Obligation of Women in Hearing the Megillah-Eating Before Megillah Reading

Question: Our custom is that women hear Megillah reading on Purim night but not on Purim day. Is this custom correct according to Halacha?

Answer: There is no distinction between men and women regarding the obligation to hear Megillah reading and women are just as obligated as men in this Mitzvah since they too were included in the miraculous salvation in the days of Mordechai and Esther. There is an especially pertinent reason to obligate women to hear the Megillah being read since this miracle was brought about through a woman, namely Queen Esther. This is especially true regarding the Purim day Megillah reading which is more important than the Purim night Megillah reading.

Nevertheless, there were some places where the custom was for women not to hear the Megillah being read on the morning of Purim. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l, in his Sefer Taba’at Ha’Melech (beginning of Hilchot Megillah), quotes the words of the Responsa Mayim Chaim who writes that their custom was that the Megillah would not be read for women on Purim day and he writes that a different Rav questioned this notion. However, he supported this custom based on the words of the Sefer Me’orei Ohr who writes that there is not such a firm obligation to read the Megillah twice and this is only done in commemoration of the fact that the Jewish nation would cry out day and night during their perilous situation, as the verse states, “I will call out during the day and you do not answer and by night and I have not respite.” Thus, they did not wish to burden women who are busy with the other Mitzvot of Purim and one who is involved with one Mitzvah is absolved from another. All of the above is the opinion of the Mayim Chaim who wished to uphold this custom of women not hearing Megillah being read on Purim day.

Maran zt”l writes that this opinion is completely baseless and should not even be said, for any G-d-fearing woman can certain find some time during Purim day to hear the Megillah being read since this is the primary Mitzvah of Purim. Needless to say, the custom of those women who treated Megillah reading on Purim day lightly is not an ancient custom and is merely a custom instituted by ignorant people and it contradicts the Gemara and all the Poskim. There is certainly a Mitzvah to eradicate this custom completely.

Thus, halachically speaking, women are obligated to hear Megillah reading, both on Purim night and then once again on Purim day, as is the law with regards to men, and this law may not be taken lightly.

Eating Before Megillah Reading
One may not eat before Megillah reading. Therefore, those women who do not come to hear Megillah at the time the congregation is praying in the synagogue and wait for their husbands to come home from synagogue and only then do they go to hear Megillah reading should be careful not to eat anything until they hear Megillah reading themselves.

However, they may drink tea or coffee or taste some fruit before hearing Megillah reading. Similarly, one may also partake of some cake or even less than a Kebeitza (an egg’s volume, approximately 54 grams) of bread. Those who act stringently and abstain from eating anything until the Megillah is read are especially praiseworthy. There is no distinction between the Purim night or Purim day Megillah reading, for one may not eat before Megillah reading in any case.

On Purim night in places where Megillah is read immediately following the Fast of Esther and a woman is waiting at home to hear Megillah reading later, she may eat some fruits or a some cake, tea, or coffee even preferably and she need not remain fasting until after she hears the Megillah. (The great Rishon Le’Zion Shlit”a rules likewise in his Yalkut Yosef-Purim, new edition, page 556.)

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Lighting Chanukah Candles on Motza’ei Shabbat and Electric Chanukah Candles

On Motza’ei Shabbat Chanukah, in the synagogue, Chanukah candles are lit first and only following this is Havdala recited in order to delay the departure of Shabbat as much as possible. Although the one lighting the Chanukah candles removes the sanctity of Shabbat from himself, nevertheless, t......

Read Halacha

The Proper Time to Light Chanukah Candles

One should preferably light Chanukah candles immediately when the stars appear in the sky, which is approximately fifteen minutes after sunset during this time of year. Some Ashkenazim, however, customarily light at sunset. The Earliest Possible Time to Light Chanukah Candles Chanukah candles sh......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

The Proper Time for Lighting Chanukah Candles On Erev Shabbat

Praying Mincha Before Lighting Candles On the Friday afternoon of Chanukah, it is preferable to pray Mincha before lighting the Chanukah candles. The reason for this is because the Mincha prayer was established in the place of the daily “Tamid” sacrifice that was brought in the Bet Hami......

Read Halacha


The Obligation of Women Regarding Chanukah Candles

Although women are generally exempt from all positive, time-bound Mitzvot, such as the Mitzvah of Shofar on Rosh Hashanah and Sukkah and Lulav on Sukkot, they are nevertheless obligated to light Chanukah candles, for they were also included in the miraculous salvation of the Jewish nation on the hol......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Women and Zimun

We have explained the primary laws of Zimun that if three men eat a bread meal together, they must perform a Zimun before reciting Birkat Hamazon. This is done by the leader proclaiming, “Nevarech She’Achalnu Mishelo” and the others replying, “Baruch She’Achalnu Mishelo......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Zimun

The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (45a) states that three who have eaten a bread meal together must perform a “Zimun” before reciting Birkat Hamazon. “Zimun” is performed by one of the three reciting, “Nevarech She’Achalnu Mishelo” at which point the others a......

Read Halacha

Embarking on a Sea Voyage on a Jewish Vessel on Shabbat

Question: May one board an Israeli ship whose captain and crew are mostly Jewish if one knows that the voyage will continue on Shabbat as well? Answer: Boarding a Ship Traveling on Shabbat The law of boarding a ship when one knows that the ship will be in the middle of the sea on Shabbat is ......

Read Halacha