the opinion of some of the great latter-day authorities,” women, like men, are obligated to hear the reading of this portion of the Torah. In addition, according to some views, this reading carries a biblical requirement for a minyan.82 Furthermore, other halakhic authorities maintain that the attendant blessings are an integral part of the mitsvah.83 Since the reading of Parshat Zakhor with a minyan and its attendant blessings requires the presence of ten adult males, women cannot fulfill their obligation of keriat Parshat Zakhor in its fullest sense in an all-women service.84
The Rashei Yeshiva are indubitably correct that by not praying with men, women forgo reciting those sections of the tefilla reserved for a minyan. It must be emphasized, however, that women, though obligated in private prayer, are freed from any requirement of public worship, tefilla be-tsibbur.85,85* (Furthermore, there is even a minority opinion of several leading posekim who maintain that women sitting in the Ezrat Nashim (a separate women’s section or balcony) never fulfill tefilla be-tsibbur.86) Hence, women are equally freed from any need to answer to barekhu, kaddish, kedusha, etc. Similarly, the vast majority of posekim, both rishonim and aharonim,87 totally reject the opinion of Magen Avraham and exempt women from any requirement to hear the Torah reading.
Indeed, actual practice as sanctioned by leading halakhic authorities runs counter to the “incomplete fulfillment” argument as applied to women in these cases. Thus, Magen Avraham88 himself records that, contrary to his aforementioned view, the prevalent custom of the women in his very own community was actually to walk out during the Torah reading. The permissibility of this practice has been reaffirmed in the modern period by many noted posekim.89 In addition, it is well known that the famed R. Elijah of Vilna advised the women of his family not to attend the synagogue altogether.90 Finally, tefilla is part of the regular school day at yeshiva day schools and high schools for women, yet rarely are arrangements made for a male minyan to be present at these times to enable tefilla be-tsibbur and keriat haTorah.
Clearly, women cannot be censured for their non-fulfillment of optional mitsvot.90* Indeed, it is precisely for this reason that most authorities maintain that women who purposely perform time-determined commandments in an incorrect manner do not violate the biblical injunction, “Every matter which I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto nor diminish from it.”91 This requires some elaboration.
As noted earlier, women are exempt from the performance of time-determined