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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Tetzaveh

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.



QUESTION: Are women obligated to go to shul to hear the Torah reading of Parashas Zachor?

DISCUSSION: There is a Biblical mitzvah to read Parashas Zachor from a Sefer Torah once a year. Although the Rabbis have instituted that Zachor be read in public on the Shabbos before Purim, the mitzvah can be fulfilled by performing it at any time during the year. Most poskim, therefore, consider the reading of Parashas Zachor to be a mitzvah which is not time-bound, thus making it obligatory upon women(1).

There is, however, a view in the Rishonim that holds that women are not obligated to hear Parashas Zachor(2). Making mention of the evil perpetrated on us by Amalek is a mitzvah that is limited to those who can and will fight against Amalek. Since women do not go out to war, they are exempt from the mitzvah of mentioning the treachery of Amalek.

There are conflicting views among the poskim as to what is the practical halachah. Some rule that women are obligated in Parashas Zachor(3) while other poskim note that it is commonly accepted that women do not go to shul to hear Parashas Zachor(4). Since there is no clear-cut ruling(5), it is commendable for women to make the effort to go to shul to hear the public reading of the Parashah(6). Indeed, in many congregations it is the accepted practice for women to do so.

Men or women who are unable to go to shul should read Parashas Zachor aloud for themselves from a Chumash since, according to some poskim, one can fulfill the mitzvah in this fashion(7).

It is questionable if a Sefer Torah may be taken out of the Aron ha-Kodesh specifically to read Parashas Zachor for women. Harav M. Feinstein is quoted(8) as strictly prohibiting this practice(9).


  1. One should not refer to the tzedakah coins which are given before Purim as "machatzis ha-shekel," since then they may be considered hekdesh and may not be used. They should rather be referred to as "zeicher l'machatzis ha-shekel(10)."
  2. One can fulfill the mitzvah of matanos la-evyonim with the money given for zeicher l'machatzis ha-shekel, provided that the money is given to bona fide aniyim (poor people) on Purim day(11).
  3. Matanos la-evyonim may not be given from ma'aser money(12). Some poskim rule that zeicher l'machatzis ha-shekel may not be given from ma'aser money either(13).
  4. Even one who is not fasting may not eat anything from half an hour before nightfall until after the reading of the megillah(14). On Purim morning, too, one may not eat breakfast before he or she hears the reading of the megillah(15).
  5. One who is not feeling well because of the fast or any other reason, may eat or drink before the megillah an amount no greater than the volume of 2 fl. oz(16). A frail or sickly person, for whom this small amount is not sufficient, may eat more, provided that he appoints someone to remind him to hear the megillah(17).
  6. If a word of the megillah was misread so that its meaning was distorted, the word should be reread. If it was not reread, some poskim maintain that the reading is valid regardless and no rereading is required(18). Other poskim rule that if the misread word was not corrected on the spot, the megillah should be reread [without a blessing] from the point where the mistake was made(19).


1 Minchas Chinuch 603.

2 Sefer ha-Chinuch 603.

3 Binyan Tziyon (8) quoting R' Nosson Adler; Yeshuos Malko (3); Mahri"l Diskin (5:101); Minchas Elazar (2:1-5).

4 Toras Chesed (37). See Avnei Nezer O.C. 509 and Marcheshes 1:22 who maintain that this is a time-bound mitzvah. Harav C. Kanievsky (Ta'ama d'Kra) quotes the Chazon Ish as having exempted women.

5 Many major poskim - Chayei Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Mishnah Berurah and Aruch ha-Shulchan - do not address this issue.

6 See Yechaveh Da'as 1:84; oral ruling of Harav M. Feinstein (Halichos Bas Yisrael, pg. 297).

7 See Nitei Gavriel 4:9-10.

8 Mo'adei Yeshurun (Purim, pg. 47).

9 See also Mikra'ei Kodesh (Purim, 5) who prohibits reading from the Sefer Torah expressly for women. Harav S.Y. Elyashiv is quoted (Halichos Bas Yisrael, pg. 296) as ruling that a minimum of ten men must be present for such a reading to take place. See Minchas Yitzchak 9:68.

10 Harav Y.M. Tikotinsky in Luach Eretz Yisrael. A similar halachah concerning Pesach meat is recorded in O.C. 469.

11 Beiur Halachah 694.

12 Mishnah Berurah 694:3.

13 Be'er Heitev 694:2 quoting the Shelah.

14 Mishnah Berurah 692:14.

15 Ibid. 692:15.

16 Ibid. 692:14. The shiur is based on the measurements of Harav M. Feinstein. One who usually follows the measurements of the Chazon Ish may eat up to 3.5 fl. oz.

17 Mishnah Berurah 692:16.

18 Aruch ha-Shulchan 690:20. This is similar to the view of the Eliyahu Rabbah and Derech ha-Chayim quoted and rejected by the Beiur Halachah 142:1.

19 Beiur Halachah 290:14.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc.

Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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