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Today’s Halacha is In Memory Of
 Ester bat Ovadia

Dedicated By
Shlomo Bahary

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May A Megilat Esther Be Written By A Woman

A question was posed by a person who purchased a high quality Megilat Ester that met all the halachic requirements of the Megila at the highest standard. He later discovered that the Megila was written by a woman, and wondered whether it was suitable for use for the Misva of Megila reading. Must a Megila be written by a man, or do we allow using even a Megila written by a woman?

When it comes to a Sefer Torah, Halacha very clearly disqualifies a Torah written by a woman. The Sages infer from a pair of verses in the Torah that a Torah scroll must be written by somebody who is included in the obligation of Tefillin. Since women are exempt from the Misva of Tefillin, they may not write a Sefer Torah.

However, this Halacha does not necessarily mean that women are disqualified from writing a Megilat Ester, as the guidelines for writing the Megila are less strict than those that apply to a Sefer Torah. For example, whereas the parchment used for a Torah scroll must be processed “Lishmah” (with the purpose of the Sefer Torah in mind), no such requirement exists regarding a Megilat Ester (according to the view accepted by the Shulhan Aruch). Similarly, a Sefer Torah written with one’s left hand is not suitable for use, while a Megila written with one’s left hand may be used. (This is the position of the Peri Hadash, as codified by Hacham Ovadia Yosef in Hazon Ovadia – Purim, p. 238.) The question thus arises as to whether we may also allow the use of a Megila written by a woman, even though we are stringent in this regard when it comes to a Torah scroll. We should bear in mind as well that women are included in the Misva of Megila, perhaps giving us more reason to allow the use of a Megila written by a woman.

Indeed, the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204) writes in Hilchot Megila (chapter 2) that a Megilat Ester written by a gentile or Jewish heretic may not be used. Tellingly, he makes no mention of women in this context. Several authorities infer from this passage that a woman may write a Megilat Ester, and this is indeed the ruling of the Hida (Rav Haim Yosef David Azulai, 1724-1806) in his work Birkeh Yosef (691:6). The Hida even allows a woman to write a Megila on the level of “Le’chatehila” (at the optimum standard, as opposed to “Be’di’avad,” or after the fact). This is also the ruling of the Bet Obed (p. 169), and the position accepted by Hacham Ovadia Yosef, in his work Hazon Ovadia – Purim (p. 235; listen to audio recording for precise citation).

Summary: A woman may write a Megilat Ester, and such a Megila is suitable for use for the Misva of Megila reading.

 


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