Halacha for Wednesday 8 Adar 5780 March 4 2020

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

The Laws of Glassware and Pyrex Regarding the Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures-Continued

In the previous Halacha we have written that according to Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch, glassware does not absorb any flavor from foods placed in it and thus, there is no prohibition to use a glass vessel for meat and then after it is washed well, to use it for dairy (although the Rama does rule st......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils?

Question: Must one designate two different sets of glassware for dairy and meat as one would with other utensils? Answer: We have already established in the previous Halacha that one is obligated to designate two separate sets of dishes and flatware for dairy and meat, for dishes used with either......

Read Halacha

The “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on a New Garment

Question: When is the appropriate time to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on a new garment, at the time of purchase or the first time one wears it? Similarly, must one recite this blessing for every new piece of clothing one purchases? Answer: The Mishnah (Berachot 54a) teaches us ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Milk and Meat Dishes and the Laws of Giving Putrid Taste

When one cooks meat in a pot, the walls of the pot absorb some of the food cooked in it and is therefore considered “meat”. If dairy is later cooked in the same pot, the pot will release some of the meat flavor contained in its walls into the dairy food and will therefore prohibit the en......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Similar Types of Fruit

In the previous Halacha, we have established that one should recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges, which are not so readily available throughout the year. When one merits eating from these fruits the first time during the year and the fruits......

Read Halacha

Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing on Grafted Fruits

Question: May one recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing the first time during the year one eats citrus fruits, such as grapefruits or oranges? Answer: We must first preface this discussion with the law that when one eats a new fruit that one has not yet partaken of that year, after recit......

Read Halacha

The Prohibition of Milk and Meat Mixtures

The Torah states three separate times (Shemot 23 and 34; Devarim 14): “You shall not cook a kid in its mother’s milk.” Our Sages (Chullin 114a) expounded that each of the times this prohibition is mentioned comes to teach us another law: The first time it is mentioned teaches us ab......

Read Halacha

The “Three Weeks”

The three-week period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av is dubbed by our Sages “Between the Straits,” based on the verse (Eicha 1, 3), “All of her enemies overtook her between the straits.” Our Sages tell us that these three weeks between the Seventeenth o......

Read Halacha