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When somebody is organizing learning for a coordinated siyum (e.g. for a yahrzeit), I'm never sure whether as a woman I can sign up to help (assuming I can meet the expected level of learning). Are these for men only, or both men and women? Does it depend on something? If so, on what?

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This might depend on the function of the siyum. Since the level of obligation in the mitzva of Torah study is different for men and for women, a woman making a siyum or contributing to the studying for a siyum might not effect results ranging from exempting a firstborn from fasting on Erev Pesach to metaphysically providing a deceased man's soul with merit equivalent to his having learned the entire Mishna (assuming a mechanism similar to that described by the Roke'ach (217) regarding giving charity in the merit of the deceased). –  Fred Oct 23 '13 at 4:54
    
@Fred Yes, but possibly even an einah metzuvah can effect a greater mitzva than a metzuveh depending how much effort is expended, what depth of study is achieved, etc. –  Double AA Oct 23 '13 at 5:09
    
@DoubleAA That's true. I'm just bringing up something to consider. –  Fred Oct 23 '13 at 5:40
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

While, as Seth J answered, there's likely nothing wrong with it, anyone signing up to study toward a communal siyum in someone's memory should bear in mind that doing so is partially for the deceased's relatives' peace of mind and comfort. If the relatives are of the sort that would be disturbed by a woman's contributing toward the siyum, it might be better for her to avoid doing so; if she doesn't know the relatives, it may be worth asking whoever's organizing the siyum about the relatives' sensibilities and biases.

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Barring some case in which a random stranger sees a post asking others to learn, I think that if someone is asking others to learn for a Siyum they are organizing, for whatever purpose, if women's learning is not entirely outside the community's norms, I think it would be incumbent upon the organizer to state that the effort is centered around men's learning, to the exclusion of women's participation. –  Seth J Oct 22 '13 at 18:11
    
@SethJ, yes, that seems reasonable, and doesn't contradict what I wrote in the answer. –  msh210 Oct 23 '13 at 17:38
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In an Orthodox setting, the woman will not likely be asked to lead the Siyum (although...) or say the Kaddish, but just scrolling through some of the past Siyumim posted here, you can see a number of women who signed up to learn.

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If the siyum is on mishnayos I think everyone will be delighted if a woman learns *masechta Avot (Pirkei Ovos). A woman could also pay a man to learn for the zechus of the nifter. Anything else would be risky depending on the crowd.

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To someone unfamiliar with the norms of various communities, this answer implies that there is a very good chance that the woman's participating more directly in the learning would risk seriously offending someone. I think that this is an overstatement of both the prevalence and seriousness of that risk. Welcome to Mi Yodeya though and thanks for participating! –  Double AA Oct 22 '13 at 21:59
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