Rabbi: Women’s Megilah Readings OK According to Jewish Law
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin notes that Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef himself permitted women to read the Book of Esther for other women.
By TOVA DVORIN
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Rabbi of the city of Efrat, released a statement Sunday noting that the phenomenon of all-women’s megilah reading (theBook of Esther) on Purim follows Jewish law.
The Book of Esther, known in Hebrew as Megilat Esther, recounts the events of the Purim holiday, which will be celebrated around the world next week. The holiday calls for the megilah to be read in front of the populace – traditionally being a man reading for a quorum of at least ten men – twice during the holiday, once during the night and once the next morning.
But not only are women key to the Purim story – the Jews having been saved by Queen Esther – but they are also equally as obligated to the reading as well, despite being exempt from time-bound commandments in most circumstances.
As such, Rabbi Riskin asked Sunday why some authorities prohibit women from conducting their own private readings. He noted that the Torah calls for “every Jew” to hear the megilah.
“While I do not hold that women are permitted to fulfill men’s obligations to hear the megilah on Purim night, how can authorities claim that its is preferable for a man to read megilah for an audience of women?” Rabbi Riskin asked. “The issue was even brought to Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, who ruled that there is no problem [with an all-women’s reading] and thus, there is no room for doubt.”
In the Hebrew language statement, Rabbi Riskin noted that women studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum have been reading Megillat Esther for over 20 years.