Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Tetzaveh-Zachor
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week.
For final rulings, consult your Rav.
WOMEN'S OBLIGATION TO HEAR PARSHAS ZACHOR
QUESTION: Are women obligated to go to shul to hear the Torah
reading of Parashas Zachor?
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 Parashah6. 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
MISHLOACH MANOS: THE BASIC MITZVAH
Mordechai and Esther, with the approval of the Rabbis of the
time, introduced a mitzvas assei(10) which obligates every
person to send two different kinds of foods to one friend on
Purim. Two basic reasons are given for this mitzvah:
There are impoverished people who are too embarrassed to collect
tzedakah for themselves and will therefore not have food for the
seudas Purim. By establishing a system whereby everyone receives
packages of food on Purim, the rabbis ensured that even the most
reticent of individuals will have food for the Purim seudah(11).
Sending food to a friend or an acquaintance is an expression of
goodwill and fraternity. On Purim we wish to instill and
perpetuate these feelings(12).
The goals of both of these reasons must be met in order to
fulfill the mitzvah properly. For instance: One who sends
clothing for mishloach manos does not fulfill the mitzvah(13)
since he did nothing for his friend's Purim meal. Similarly, one
who sends mishloach manos anonymously does not fulfill the
mitzvah(14) since no friendship or goodwill is generated between
him and the recipient.
Nowadays, we are witness to a marked proliferation of mishloach
manos. Although mishloach manos is a relatively easy mitzvah to
fulfill, if one is unaware of the halachos, he could send dozens
of mishloach manos and still not properly fulfill the mitzvah.
In addition, a clear distinction must be drawn between the
minimum requirements for fulfilling the mitzvah, and the hiddur
mitzvah, the more exacting form of fulfilling the mitzvah. There
are also some little known halachos which are important for
those who wish to fulfill the mitzvah according to the views of
all the poskim. We have thus split the halachos into two parts -
the first part discusses the basic rules, and the second part
discusses chumros and hiddurim for those who wish to embellish
upon this once-a-year mitzvah.
Mishloach Manos: THE BASIC RULES
WHO SHOULD SEND: Men and women are personally obligated in this
mitzvah(15). Married women are obligated in their own right and
are not exempted by their husband's mishloach manos(16). It is
sufficient, however, for husband and wife to send mishloach
manos together, as if it is coming from both of them - and the
recipient recognizing that it is coming from both(17).
Some poskim hold that children over 13 - even those who are
being supported by their parents - are obligated(18), while
others exempt them since they do not own anything in their own
Parents should educate their children in the mitzvah of
mishloach manos as they do with every mitzvah(20).
WHAT TO SEND: Any combination of two kinds of food(21), or one
food and one drink(22), or two kinds of drink(23), is
sufficient. Two pieces of the same food are considered as one
food(24). Some poskim(25) specify that the foods be ready to eat
and require no further cooking, while others(26) allow even
uncooked foods to be sent.
TO WHOM TO SEND:To any Jewish(27) adult(28), wealthy or poor,
with whom you are acquainted or to whom you are related.
Although men should send to men only and women to women
only(29), families may send to each other(30).
Mishloach manos should not be sent to a mourner(31) during the
year of mourning for his parents, or during the thirty days of
mourning for other relatives(32). A mourner who receives
mishloach manos need not return them, and the sender fulfills
his mitzvah by sending those mishloach manos(33). It is
permitted for a woman to send to the wife of a mourner(34).
A mourner must send mishloach manos - even if he is in the
middle of shivah. A mourner should refrain from sending "items
of simchah" (items that elicit laughter and merriment)(35).
WHEN TO SEND: Mishloach Manos should be sent and received on
Purim day(36). If it is received at night or on the days before or
after Purim, the sender does not fulfill the mitzvah(37). If it is
sent before Purim but is received on Purim, some poskim hold
that the mitzvah is fulfilled(38) while others hold that it is
HOW TO SEND:The sender himself may deliver the mishloach manos
directly to the recipient(40). Some poskim(41) hold that it is
preferable to send it via a messenger. The messenger may be a
minor or a non-Jew(42). When sending with a messenger, it is
proper to verify that the mishloach manos was indeed
delivered(43), especially if the messenger is a minor or a
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
5. Many major poskim - Chayei Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch,
Mishnah Berurah and Aruch ha-Shulchan - do not address this
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. The poskim (see Achiezer 3:73) refer to this mitzvah as a
mitzvah mi-divrei kabbalah, a rabbinical mitzvah which is
incorporated into the written text (Esther 9:22). Accordingly,
we do not say safek d'Rabbanan l'kulah in regard to the mitzvos
of Purim (Tzafnas Panei'ach to Rambam Megillah 1:1).
11. Terumas ha-Deshen 111.
12. R' Shlomo Alkavatz in Manos ha-Levi quoted in Teshuvos Chasam
Sofer O.C. 196.
17. Harav S.Z. Auerbach (written responum quoted in Halichos Bas
Yisrael, pg. 303 and oral ruling quoted in Halichos Beisah, pg.
354). Accordingly, the amount sent should be double the minimum
amount of mishloach manos.
19. Responsa Kinyan Torah 1:132. It follows that if the children
have their own possessions, then they are obligated like any
20. Pri Megadim 695:14; Eishel Avraham 695; Kaf ha-Chayim 695:57.
This means that parents should give their children food or money
so that they can fulfill the mitzvah - Chanoch l'Na'ar, pg. 66.
See, however, Kinyan Torah 1:132 who holds that it is sufficient
chinuch to allow the children to deliver the mishloach manos.
26. Pri Chadash O.C. 695; Ha'amek Sh'eilah 67:9; Shevet Sofer
O.C. 23; Yechaveh Da'as 6:45. Mishnah Berurah 695:20 quotes both
views without rendering a decision.
27. Responsa Beis Yitzchak (Y.D. 2:142).
28. Aruch ha-Shulchan 695:18 rules that one fulfills the mitzvah
by sending to a minor, but many poskim (Ya'avetz 1:121, Yad
Sofer 24; Kaf ha-Chayim 694:12; Birur Halachah, pg. 405) rule
that one does not fulfill the mitzvah in that manner.