Amalaik & Purim
Rabbi Daniel Myers
Question: [Shmuel Myers]: Are women obligated to hear Parshat Amalaik on Shabbat Zachor?
Answer: The Saifer Hachinuch (Mitzvah 603) writes that the Mitzvah to hear Parshat Amalaik does not apply to women since they are not obligated in the Mitzvah to destroy Amalaik. The Minchat Chinuch (ibid. note 3) argues with the Chinuch and maintains that they are in fact obligated in the Mitzvah
for the following reasons:
1) This Mitzvah is a Mizvat Asai which is not time-bound; (see below Q.126) therefore, no exemption applies, especially since this Asai is coupled with a Lo Taasai which prohibits one from forgetting that which Amalaiik did to us...
2) The Gemara in Sota (44b) states that during Milchemet Mitzvah no one, even a Kalah from her Chupah, is exempt from the Mitzvah of Milchama. Therefore, a woman should not be exempt from Parshat Amalaik. (See below Q.127)
3) The obligation to hear Parshat Zachor is not necessarily dependent on the Mitzvah to wipe out Amalaik. Therefore, even if women were in fact exempt from the Mitzvah of destroying Amalaik, they would still be obligated in the Mitzvah of Zecirat Amalaik. During the Messianic era, when there will be no remnant of Amalaik left, it is quite reasonable to maintain that we will still be Chayav in Zechirat Amalaik! In conclusion, men and women are both Chayav in this Mitzvat Asai. (For a defense of the Saifer Hachinuch, see Halichot Bat Yisrael 22:1 note 2)
This Machloket Haposkim has continued over the generations: Rav Natan Adler, the Rebbe of the Chatam Sofair, and the Minchat Elazar both maintained that women are in fact obligated in Zecirat Amalik. (Binyan
Tzion 8, Minchat Elazar 1:5) The Avnai Naizer and the Gaon Milublin held that women are exempt. (Avnai Naizer O”C 509, Torat Chesed 37) Harav Ovadya Yosaif concludes that although many Poskim exempt women from this Mitzvah, it is still proper for them to go in order to fulfill the Chiyuv according to those who are stringent. (Yechaveh Daat 1:84) Halichot Bat Yisrael writes that women are accustomed to go to Shul to hear Parshat Zachor. (22:1)
Question: Why does the Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah 603, see Q.125) maintain that Zechirat Amalaik is not a Zman Grama (time-bound) Mitzvah when in fact the Chiyuv is at a specific time, namely, the Shabbat before Purim?
Answer: Harav Ovadya Yosaif (Yechave Daat 1:84) writes that Midoraita there is no set time for this Mitzvah, it can be performed at anytime throughout the year. However, Chazal, obligated us to read the Parsha on the Shabbat before Purim in order to juxtapose the Mitzvah of Michayat Amalaik (wiping
out Amalaik) with Michiyat Haman. (See Rashi Megila 29a “Umafsikin”) Therefore, Midoraita, the Mitzva is considered a Mizvat Asai Shelo Hazman Grama and women are Chayavot, according to the Minchat Chinuch.
Question: Does the Mitzvah of Michiyat Amalaik apply today?
Answer: At first glance, one may assume that the Mitzvah is no longer applicable since we can not identify the biological descendants of Amalaik. However, the Rav ZT”L disagreed with this approach and stated the following: Rambam (Hilchot Milachim 5:4) writes that we can no longer fight against the seven nations since their memory has long since perished. Regarding Amalaik, he simply writes that there is a Mitzvah to destroy them; however, he does not write that they have perished! It would appear that Amalaik is still in existence, while the seven nations have descended into the abyss of oblivion. But where is Amalaik? I once heard the following answer from my father and master of blessed memory, namely that any nation that conspires to destroy Knesset Israel becomes, according to Halacha, Amalik. Thus, if any people seek to destroy us, we are commanded to do battle against it when it rises up against us, and this battle of ours is a
Milchemet Mitzvah based on the Passuk in Shmot “The Lord will have war with Amalaik from generation to generation.”
Question: [Mr. Philip Brody]: Can one count the profit that the Shul receives from the Mishloach manot project as Maasair?
Answer: Rav Moshe (Choshen Mishpat 2:58) writes that one can count the money that he spends on a Yeshiva dinner for Maasair, except for the value of a meal. The value is not the cost of the caterer's meal, but a meal that he would have at home. Rabbi Kamenetsky maintains that one deducts the amount that he determines such a meal is worth to him. (Hilchot Tzedaka by Rabbi Shimon Taub, p.169) This Machloket would have no practical ramifications in our case, since both Poskim would agree that all the money that goes to the Shul would be considered Maasair except for that money which was spent on the actual Mishloach Manot. There is no subjective value that needs to be taken into consideration. L'maaseh, one can count the Shul's profit as Maasair.
Question: [Mr. Phillip Brody]: Can one fulfil his obligation of Mishloach Manot with the Mishloach Manot (M.M.) that is sent through the Shul's M.M. fundraiser?
Answer: If the sender's share in the M.M. would have the proper Shiur for M.M., it would appear that he would be Yotzai. (See Q. 131 regarding the shiur for M.M.) Actually, according to some Shitot, there would even be an advantage to such M.M., since it is done through a Shliach, which is necessary according to the Binyan Zion. (M"B 695:19).
Question: What is the Shiur for M.M.?
Answer: According to the Biur Halacha (695:4 "Chayav"), the Gemara Yerushalmi maintains that the M.M. must be a Chashuv gift according to the standard of the receiver. Therefore, if one gives a wealthy person a piece of bread and a can of tuna, for example, he may not be Yozai. Although other Seforim do
not mention such a Chumra, Lechatchila it is proper to follow the Yerushalmi. The Aruch Hashulchan (695 :15) also writes that one should not give M.M. which is simply a Czayit.