A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS TETZAVEH
WOMEN'S OBLIGATION TO HEAR PARASHAS ZACHOR
QUESTION: Are women obligated to go to shul to hear the Torah reading of
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).
SELECTED PURIM HALACHOS
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
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).
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
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
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).
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).
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.