Halacha » Mitzvot for Women on Purim

Mitzvot for Women on Purim

Women and Purim

On the holiday of Purim, the women have almost the same obligations as the men, save for some minute differences. Although women are normally exempt from Mitzvot which aren’t consistent and are time-bound; when dealing with the holiday of Purim, women are obligated as well. This is because they were part of the miracle of Purim as well (מגילה ד,א), since they were also included in Haman’s decree to kill all the Jews (רש״י שם), and because they played an integral role in the miracle of Purim; the salvation came about in the merit of a woman- Esther (רשב״ם בתוספות).

Still, we find the following Halachic differences  between the obligations of men and women:

Parashat Zachor

The Torah obligates us to read Parashat Zachor every year from a Kosher Sefer Torah, in order to remember the evil things Amalek has done to our nation upon our exodus from Egypt. There is a dispute amongst the poskim whether women are also obligated to go to Shul and listen to the reading. Some say that she is exempt because the meaning of this Mitzvah is to command us to wage war against Amalek and only men are supposed to fight a war (מנחת חינוך מצוה תרג).

Others argue that women must hear Zachor, because it’s not a Mitzvah which is bound to time, since although the Hachamim established the recital on the Shabbat preceding Purim, one can perform this Mitzvah any time during the year .

Lema’ase since it’s a question of a Biblical commandment, women should try to put an effort to go to Shul on that Shabbat and hear the Parasha (חזון עובדיה עמוד ט).

It is correct to have a special reading in every shul during the afternoon hours to enable the women who can’t come in the morning to come and hear the Parasha.

Machatzit Hashekel

Although women aren’t obligated to give Machatsit Hashekel, the minhag is that women do give Machatzit Hashekel as well (הגרי״ש אלישיב באשרי האיש ח״ג פמ״ב וכן הגרש״ז אורבעך בהליכות שלמה עמוד שכז וכן חכם עובדיה בחזו״ע עמוד קה ) but since it’s usually given in Shul, the husbands usually give for their wives and daughters.

Mishloach Manot & Matanot L’evyonim

Although women are obligated as well to send Mishloach Manot and Matanot L’evyonim, there is a discussion in the Poskim how a married woman should perform this Mitzvah. Some say that women don’t have to worry about this Mitzvah, as while her husband is sending his basket and giving Matanot he should give as well for his wife (מגן אברהם סי’ תרצה סקי״ד). But the correct way is that she should perform those Mitsvot herself (קיצור ש״ע סי’ קמב ס״ד וכן פסק בחזו״ע עמ’ קמ).

In the event that she can’t send her own basket or give the Matanot, then her husband should give on her behalf and inform his wife, and similarly inform the person receiving them, that it’s from his wife (הליכות שלמה עמוד שלח).

Drinking wine

There is a discussion in the Poskim whether it’s correct for one to get drunk on purim and how to perform what Chazal said עד דלא ידע, but for women it’s clear that she shouldn’t be involved in drinking at all (שבט הלוי ח״י סי’ חי).

Megillah reading

Women have a different type of obligation with regards to the Megillah reading. While the man’s obligation is to read the Megillah (although one can perform the “reading” obligation through hearing, by means of the Halachic mechanism of שומע כעונה), a woman’s obligation is to merely listen to the reading but not read. This has various implications (ש״ע סי’ תרפט ס״ב).

  1. A woman can’t read for men because their obligations are different as explained. Therefore if a husband can’t read for any reason, his wife wouldn’t be able to read for him(משנ״ב שם סק״ז).

  2. Women shouldn’t read the Megillah but rather hear it from a man, unless there is absolutely no way for her to hear it from a man, in which case she should read it (משנ״ב שם סק״ח).

  3. If there are no men to read for the women, they should read themselves, but recite the Beracha differently (רמ״א שם ס״ב): אשר קדשנו במצותיו וציונו לשמוע {י״א מקרא} מגילה

Some poskim argue on the above ruling and write that women have the same obligation as men, thus she can read for men and say the bracha of על מקרא מגילה (חזו״ע).

House work

Some poskim write that concerning work, Purim should be treated the same as Chol Hamoed, thus women should refrain from doing house chores like washing laundry, cutting hair etc. (הגר״ח קניבסקי בתורת המועדים סק״א ובן איש חי כי תשא אות כא)