Women Reading and Women Writing the Megillah
Commenting on a psychologist’s assertion that “girls like to climb trees because they want to be like boys”, Simone de Beauvoir suggests, “It never occurs to him that they like climbing trees.” Women participate in mitzvot in order to build a relationship with God and with other human beings; they do not sanctify Shabbat because men do, but because they must; they do not read the Megillah because men do, but because they must.
A number of ahronim write that women are disqualified from writing the Megillah. These include the Ma’aseh Rokeah, R. Me’ir Pearles, R.Akiva Eiger, R Yosef Messas, Melekhet Shamayim, and the Sha’arei Teshuvah.
Yet there is a strong trend in halakhah to validate a Megillah written by a woman. The Derishah goes further, regarding women as eligible to write a sefer Torah as well; and while the Shulhan Arukh and all other rishonim disagree with the Derishah, they fail to mention women among those who are disqualified from writing a Megillah. The omission is glaring, given that the gemara and rishonim all explicitly disqualify a woman from writing Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzot. This silence along with strong theoretical arguments, lead a large number of major ahronim to rule either in principle or in practice that scrolls of Esther written by women are valid. These ahronim include R. David Oppenheim, the Hida, the Peri Megadim, the Teshuvah mei–Ahavah, the Matteh Yehudah, the Keset ha–Sofer, the Sedei Hemed, the Arukh ha–Shulhan, the Avnei Nezer, the Beit Oved, and the Tsits Eliezer. Given the number, stature, and compelling reasoning of these ahronim, it seems that the weight of the halakhic discussion inclines toward regarding women as eligible to write scrolls of Esther for communal ritual use provided that they are competent in the requisite halakhot.
Rabbi Ross Singer – “Women and Writing the Megillah“