Purim Halakhah


The following important question was submitted to Rabbi David Clinkin, Dean of the Bet Midrash Le'Badhanim in in Jerusalem and chair of the Va'ad Halakhah of the Council of Torah Sages. Rabbi Clinkin holds a PhD in Talmud from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and is an honors graduate of Rabbi Noah Clinkin's Hebrew Marathon.

Q. Esteemed Rabbi: May a woman be ordained as a Purim badhan (badhanit? badhanah? badhenet? Never mind!)

A. I have researched this diligently and am preparing a bibliography on the subject. In fact, I am preparing a bibliography of Jewish bibliographies. This should help any schlemazel find anything he or she needs to find. Only I forgot where I put it.

Anyway, I digress. The source on this is in Mesechet Badhanim, daf aleph, amud gimel. There, somewhere in the back in tiny Rashi script, you will find the commentary of Rov Kos, one of the most distinguished badhanim of Galitizia. Anyway, basing himself (or debasing himself) on Rov Schmendrik, the Gaon of Chelm, he points out that women are required to hear parshat Zachor and the entire kriat Megilah. This is considered to be so important that one must miss Seinfeld in order to fulfill this commandment.

In addition a woman is obliged to to rejoice on Adar. As this is a mitzvah aseh and is zman grandma (also see Baba Bubba 3c), not only does she have a chiyuv, but may be motei somebody else. Especially if it is a man and he has already passed out from eating too many humentashen. Therefore with the authority of the court on high and with the authority of the court below we hereby declare that a woman may make a fool of herself on the very same basis as a man. It is our opinion that women may be admitted to our distinguished Beit Midrash Le'badhanim with all the rights, honors and privileges thereunto appertaining. I think.

Now, what were the other two halakhic topics?

Ani hakatan,


From Rabbi David Clinkin:

Following up on the question previously asked "May a woman be ordained a Purim Badhan (badhanah, badhenet, badhanit or whatever)." I have discovered some more texts which justify the practice.

Feminist scholars often point out that Michal bat Shaul put on tephilin, as did Rashi's daughters. Actually Rashi's daughters put on Rabeynu Tam's, which really pissed off the old man, but I digress. Anyway, in the incident where Michal chides David for dancing before the ark and making a jerk out of himself, the Mezudat David (a great restaurant, by the way..terrific kebab) says that Michal was really jealous because she too, wanted to party. Hey, it was Purim.

Now, about Rashi's daughters. (You know that Rashi was a French wine grower, but had to quit that business because he got Worms in his grapes, which ruined his Purim completely.) Anyway his daughters (especially Sadie and Bertha) were wont to make fun of the sage for his lousy handwriting. ("Dad, do you actually expect anybody to read that stuff? Looks like chicken tracks!)

Which leads to the second halahic topic. (See, I remembered). The CJLS in a landmark decision in 1950 said that Conservative Jews may drive on Purim to shul. The Va'ad Halakhah, in Israel responded decades later (heck, the mail service stinks) that one must walk to shul on Purim. Residential patterns in Israel are different than in the US and there are shuls and humentashen bakeries everywhere. Mai nafka minah? There are laws in Israel prohibiting anyone from driving who has eaten too many humentashen. It is a fact that one out of every three drivers on Purim has eaten too many humentashen. This presents a serious hazard. The police are establishing roadblocks and administering breath tests to anyone who seems too bloated.

Happy Purim,


(By Rabbi Kenneth Cohen)