I know that a woman can't write a sefer torah. What about Megillat Esther? If a female soferet wrote a Megillah Esther, would it be kosher?

  • 3
    It's important to note that everyone agrees women are valid for writing the other 18 books of Nakh. Most Shuls don't have enough of those and most male Soferim are too busy with more conventional STaM, so it's an important niche that artistically inclined women can easily jump in and fill to serve God and contribute to the community.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 16:08
  • @DoubleAA as in for shuls that want their Haftaros and other Megillos out of a klaf?
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 1:36
  • 1
    @Shalom or any other purpose you can come up with. "They" say what drove the community in Yerushalayim to seek out the details of the rest of Tanakh from Aleppo is a fear that Ezra and Daniyel and Iyov would show up at Techiyat Hametim and say "I worked to write you such a good book and there are no copies left??"
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 1:50
  • Hey among the Sefardim, Iyov will always have Tisha B'Av ...
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 9:22

2 Answers 2


There is a long list of decisors who permit a woman to write a Megillah

R Eliezer Melamed, author of Peninei Halakha, (here, note 10) writes

The Aĥaronim debate whether a woman may write a Megilla.

Birkei Yosef, Mateh Yehuda, and Pri Megadim posit that since a woman must read the Megilla, she may write one.

R. Akiva Eger, Avnei Nezer, and others maintain that she is invalidated from writing a megilla, just as she is invalidated from writing a Torah scroll.

Lishkat Ha-sofer 28:7 (by R. Shlomo Ganzfried, author of Kitzur [SA]) brings a support for those who permit women to write a Megilla from the verse “Then Esther wrote” (Esther 9:29), the source from which Megilla 19a derives the law that a Megilla must be written like a Torah scroll. He concludes that le-khatĥila, one should use a Megilla that was written by a man, in order to satisfy all opinions. Be-di’avad, however, when the only available Megilla was written by a woman, one may read from it and even recite the berakhot over it.

@DoubleAA (in comments) notes the Avnei Nezer actually retracts his position later in responsum #518 and R Akiva Eiger only says he isn't sure why the Shulchan Arukh permitted it. He mentions the Shulchan Aruch, Arukh haShulchan, Teshuva MeAhavah, Tzitz Eliezer, Sdei Chemed and Pri Chadash all permit it.

Sefaradi decisors also approve (here)

Maran Ha’Chida writes in his Sefer Birkei Yosef that a Megillah written by a woman is absolutely valid, for since they are obligated to read/listen to the Megillah, they may likewise write a Megillah. He supports this ruling from the fact that the Rambam omits the law that a Megillah written by a woman is invalid.

Likewise, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yonah Navon zt”l (rabbi of Maran Ha’Chida) writes in his Sefer Get Mekushar that a Megillah written by a woman is valid and he proceeds to support this with several proofs. Many great Acharonim rule likewise.

Hagaon Harav David Oppenheim brings a proof that a Megillah written by a woman is valid, for the verse in the Megillah states, “And Queen Esther wrote,” from which our Sages derived (Megillah 19a) that the Megillah must be written in a scroll with black ink. It would be counter-intuitive that the first Megillah in history which serves as a basis for the laws of writing a Megillah, was invalid.

Thus, halachically speaking, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l rules (in his Chazon Ovadia-Purim, page 235) that a Megillah written by a woman is absolutely kosher. Similarly, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a rules likewise in his Yalkut Yosef-Purim (page 515) for many different reasons.

See also R David Sperling's writeup here.

  • This provides no context for the dissenting opinion. On what level or in what opinion do they say it's prohibited? Rabbenu Tam even invalidates missing letters! What a misleading post. This is why one can't just read conclusions of responsa and be ready to Paskin. (I'm sure R Melamed actually did read the sources of course and is not claiming to explain the issues, but people should be aware of the problems with learning from summaries always and especially here where this summary doesn't capture the nuances involved.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 12:38
  • Notably, the Avnei Nezer actually retracts his position later in responsum #518. R Akiva Eiger only says he isn't sure why the Shulchan Arukh permitted it. The real source that prohibits it is the Maaseh Rokeach, but his basis in Rabbenu Tam's position can hardly be called Ikar HaDin and shouldn't be worse than a Megillah with a missing letter. Also worth adding the Arukh haShulchan, Teshuva MeAhavah, Tzitz Eliezer, Sdei Chemed, and Pri Chadash to the list of those who permit (and of course, the Rambam and Shulchan Arukh and all Rishonim none of whom ever list such a invalidation).
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 15:22
  • @DoubleAA looks like you have an answer here !
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 15:41
  • 1
    @DoubleAA I’d be happy to add your points to my answer or, better, write up one based on your points that you can then copy and paste into an answer from you. I also don’t want to leave mistaken views out there
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 17:07
  • 1
    IIRC the Pri Megadim debates the issue, it's not so clear-cut. R. Michoel Elias, in Minchas Mordechai, suggests that those who would prohibit would "vatichtov Esther" the same way one opinion in the Gemara interprets "vatikach Tzipora tzur" -- she ordered it to be done, by a man.
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 23:43

This question is not explicitly addressed by the Rishonim. However, the Gemara equates a number of the laws of Megillah with those of a Sefer Torah, deriving each law from a separate verse (see Megillah 16b, 19a). Since a woman is disqualified to write a Sefer Torah, the question is whether the equations of Megillah to Sefer Torah are the exceptions or the rule. This is a dispute among the Rishonim.

The Ramban (Megillah 17a) writes:

וי"ל מגילה נקראת ספר ונקראת אגרת, ולא ידעינן לאיזה דבר הוקשה לספר ולאיזה דבר הוקשה לאגרת... ואמרו בירושלמי מה בין ספרים למגילת אסתר אלא שהספרים נכתבים בכל לשון ומגילת אסתר אינה נכתבת אלא אשורית הא לכל דבריהם זה וזה שוין, וכ"כ רב אחא משבחא בשאלתות

אבל ר' משה הספרדי ז"ל אמר שא"צ עבוד לשמה, שמא הוא סבור לומר דלשמה כיון דאינו דבר הניכר בה כלל אינו כדברים שמגופה וכדברים שהן בה ואינן מגופה, אלא כדברים שהן חוץ לגופה ודינה בה כדין אגרת, אבל הירושלמי שכתבתי יקשה עליו, אא"כ יאמר דקולי ספרים קתני חומרי לא קתני, ואינו מחוור כלל.

ומסתברא שלא הקלו משום אגרת אלא בפסול שאינו מתפשט בכולה, כגון תפירה מקצתה בגידין כדין ספר ומקצתה בפשתן משום אגרת. ומזה אמרו דהשמיט בה ,הסופר אותיות או פסוק, וקראן הקורא כמתורגמן, יצא. והוינן בה קראן על פה ומתרצינן לא קשיא הא בכולה הא במקצתה, דכיון דפסול דמקצת היא, כשרה כאגרת, שאלו בס"ת שהשמיט בו אות אחת פסול, אלא קל הוא שהקילו במגילה משום אגרת

According to the Ramban, the general rule is that the laws of Sefer Torah apply to Megillah (with some exceptions). If so, the law that a Sefer Torah written by a woman is pasul would apply to Megillah as well (at least if it was written wholly by a woman). This is also the clear position of Rabbenu Tam, cited by the Tur (OC 691):

ור"ת ז"ל כתב כיון דנקראת ספר נותנים לה כל דין ס"ת חוץ ממה שמפרש בהדיא, דהיינו שאם הטיל בה ג' חוטי גידין כשרה, אבל לכל שאר הדברים היא כספר תורה, לענין עיבוד לשמה והיקף גויל וחטוטרת חתי"ן ותליית ההי"ן וקופי"ן וכל גופות האותיות כצורתן וזיונן של שעטנז ג"ץ ובחסירות ויתרות וצריכה עמוד בראשה וחלק בסופה כדי להקיפה בו הכל כס"ת

On the other hand, the implication of the Rambam (Hilchot Megillah 2:9) is that a woman can write a Megillah, since he lists only the invalidation of goy and min:

או שכתבה גוי או מין, פסולה

The Maggid Mishneh explains that the Rambam only equates Megillah to a Sefer Torah for those things which the Gemara mentions:

ואין העור שלה וכו'. זה פשוט שלא נזכר בה עבוד ואינה כס"ת אלא לדברים שהשוה לו

If so, we can understand why a woman would be valid to write a Megillah.

In fact, this is the argument of the Chida (Birkei Yosef 691:6) to allow women to write the Megillah: Since the Shulchan Aruch cites the Rambam's view that lishmah is not required for Megillah as primary, based on the Maggid Mishneh we can infer that women are allowed to write the Megillah as well:

יש להסתפק אשה שכתבה מגילה, מי מדמינן לספר תורה להא נמי ופסולה, או דילמא ספר תורה שאני, והמגילה כשרה? ולכאורה נראה להכשיר, ממ"ש התוס' בגיטין דף מ"ד, אהא דאמרינן סתו"ם שכתבן עכו"ם וכו' ואשה וכו' פסולין, שנאמר וקשרתם וכתבתם, כל שישנו בקשירה ישנו בכתיבה, וכו' דדוקא בסתו"ם דרשינן הכי וכו', אבל שאר נביאים לא. והוא הדין נימא גבי מגילה שכתבה אשה כשרה. אך אין ראיה מזה, דהא לכמה מילי מקישינן מגילה לס"ת. אבל ראיתי להרמב"ם שכתב פ"ב דמגילה דין ט' ואין העור שלה צריכה עבוד וכו'. וכתב הרב המגיד זה פשוט, שלא נזכר בה עבוד, ואינו כספר תורה אלא לדברים שהשוה בו, עכ"ל. וכפי זה אפשר להכשיר זו מגילה ניתנה ליכתב ביד אשה, שהרי לא הוזכרה הך פיסולא דאשה לכתיבת המגילה, וכללא כייל לן הה"מ דאינה כס"ת אלא לדברים שהושוה בו. ואף דבהא דעבוד איכא רבוואתא דפליגי, מ"מ מרן סתם בסמוך כהרמב"ם, דאין העור צריך עיבוד לשמה. וידוע דדעת מרן כסברא דכתב בסתם. וכ"כ הפר"ח, דיש להכשיר בדיעבד, וכוותייהו נקטינן. ולסברת הרמב"ם כבר כתב הרב המגיד דאין לנו במגילה אלא מאי דאתמר בהדיא דהויא כספר תורה.

However, the Chida's argument is based on the opinion that Megillah does not require lishmah. If so, since Ashkenazi pesak follows the second view of the Shulchan Aruch, that Megillah requires lishmah (at least lechatchilah), it would follow that Ashkenazim should not accept the position of the Birkei Yosef regarding women writing a Megillah (lechatchilah).

There may be another possibility for why women can write a Megillah even though they cannot write a Sefer Torah. A woman cannot write a Sefer Torah based on the principle of כל שישנו בקשירה ישנו בכתיבה (Menachot 42b). However, since women are obligated in the Megillah, perhaps they should be allowed to write it as well (this is the argument of the Pri Megadim). However, this argument of the Pri Megadim depends on how we understand the extension of כל שישנו בקשירה to Sefer Torah. According to the Tosfot HaRosh (Gittin 45b), this halacha disqualifies women from halachot of writing:

ודוקא ס"ת הוא דילפינן מתפלין ומזוזה דכתיבה מכתיבה ילפינן אבל בשאר מצות לא.

Based on this reasoning, women presumably cannot write a Megillah. However, if the halacha disqualifies women from writing a sefer Torah because they are exempt from that mitzvah, then we can understand the Pri Megadim. Therefore, if we hold like R. Tam that women should not tie tzitzit because they are exempt and the halacha of כל שישנו disqualifies them, they should be allowed to write a megillah. (Cf. Avnei Nezer [OC 516] who maintains that even according to R. Tam that women may not tie tzitzit, women are invalid to write a Megillah--since a Megillah is equated to a Sefer Torah. This is based on the Avnei Nezer's understanding that Megillah is part of the distinct category of sefer Torah, tefillin and mezuzah. See also R. Michoel Elias, Minchat Mordechai al HaTorah, inyanei Purim; R. Mordechai Rabinovitch, Tzafoh Ha-Tzafit, on Aroch Ha-Shulchan cited below [n. 38]; and R. Menachem Genack, Gan Shoshanim vol. 3.)

The Aruch Ha-Shulchan (OC 691:3) decides in favor of the lenient view, noting that a woman is even permitted to tie tzitzit, and therefore all the more so can she create a Megillah in which she is obligated:

ונראה דגם אשה פסולה לכתיבת המגילה, אף על פי שחייבת בה, כמו שפסולה לכתיבת ספר תורה, תפילין, ומזוזות; אף על פי שחייבת במזוזה, וכמו כן מגילה (הגרע"א). ויש מי שמכשיר (ברכי יוסף הובא בשערי תשובה).

וכן נראה לי: דבשלמא בספר תורה, תפילין, ומזוזות, דרשינן "וקשרתם... וכתבתם" – כל שישנן בקשירה ישנן בכתיבה, וכל שאינן בקשירה אינן בכתיבה. וממילא דאשה, כיון דאינה בקשירת תפילין – אינה בכתיבה גם לענין מזוזה, אף שחייבת, כיון דחדא פרשה היא עם תפילין.

אבל למגילה לא שייך זה. ואדרבא: כיון שחייבת – וודאי דכשרה לכתיבה. והרי מותרת לעשות ציצית, וסוכה, ושופר, אף על פי שפטורה מהם, וכל שכן מגילה שחייבת בה. וכן מבואר מהטור, ושולחן ערוך, והרמב"ם, וכל הפוסקים שלא הזכירו אשה לפסול במגילה.

(See also Orah ve-Simchah, Megillah 2:9 no. 50, who rejects the argument of the Pri Megadim for a different reason, but nevertheless accepts his conclusion.)

The Sdei Chemed (Ma'arechet Purim, 12) quotes a manuscript from one of the rabbis of Jerusalem from the year 1734 which argues based on Masechet Sofrim that a woman can write the Megillah: Masechet Sofrim states that anyone who can exempt the congregation of its obligation can write the text as well (cited by Mordechai, Halachot Ketanot: זה הכלל, כל המוציא את הרבים ידי חובתם כותבו). This is based on the position of the Shulchan Aruch and Rambam that women can be motzi men in the obligation of Megillah; however, according to the Rema, who maintains based on the Behag that women cannot be motzi men in their obligation, it would seem based on the same Masechet Sofrim that women would not be able to write a Megillah on behalf of men either. Nevertheless, this Jerusalem rabbi concludes that even if women cannot be motzi men, they can still write a Megillah since they have a connection to the mitzvah.

R. Moshe Sternbuch, Stam ke-Hilchatan, ch. 28, p. 254, argues that women may be invalid for writing a Megillah, even if Esther herself wrote the first Megillah, because the current status of Megillah differs from what was required at the time of Esther. Once the Megillah was canonized as part of kitvei ha-kodesh, it no longer suffices to have a Megillah which does not fulfill the requirements of kitvei ha-kodesh. In this respect, R. Sternbuch argues with his teacher R. Yitzchak Ze'ev Soloveitchik, who maintained that a Megillah does not need to fulfill the requirements of kitvei ha-kodesh in order to be used to fulfill the mitzvah of keriat ha-megillah.

  • I don't understand this at all. If they can tie Tzitzit, then the rule only applies to mezuza and tefillin and sefer Torah as listed in the braysa there. Who said anything about kitvei hakodesh? There are literally dozens of examples of Sefardi Acharonim who say women can tie Tzitzit but can write a Megillah, who claim to be following the Shulchan Arukh here.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 22:57
  • The griz doesn't answer it since accd to the griz not needing kitvei hakodesh would imply no Amud at the end, but the Sefardi Poskim require it. Again logically inconsistent with dozens of Poskim means there's something else going on.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 23:44
  • @DoubleAA See Rashi Megillah 8b s.v. sefarim, cited by Avnei Nezer ibid.
    – wfb
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 16:56
  • I don't know what you are seeing in Rashi that is relevant. Note that avnei nezer retracts somewhat in 518
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:02
  • @DoubleAA Rashi apparently maintains that women cannot write any sefarim, including nevi'im and ketuvim, as the Avnei Nezer notes
    – wfb
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:10

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