Section E). Should the local rabbi be afraid, however, that a rift in the community might result, he should refrain from taking any position whatsoever on the matter. Similarly, R. Jacob Ariel maintains that while basically women can read for other women they should not specifically break off from the rest of the community to do so (because of “pirsumei nisa”) unless necessary or in an instance where a separate reading for women will take place anyway; see: R. Jacob Ariel, Resp. beOhalah shel Torah, II, O.H., sec. 105 and his comments in Moshe Stern, Megillat haAtasma’ut, Mekor Rishon, 7 Adar 5761 (March 2, 2001) p. 16-17.
Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, Resp. Yabia Omer, VIII, O.H. sec. 56, end of no. 4, writes: “. . . Resp. Mishne Halakhot (Mahadura Tinyana, I, O.H. sec. 550) challenges the custom of women who make a minyan by themselves for mikra Megilla . . . On the contrary, the aforementioned custom should be encouraged.” The cited Resp. Mishne Halakhot deals with a custom for one woman to read the Megilla for all the women present. R. Yosef’s teshuva seems to imply that he approves of this custom in its entirety. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out for accuracy that this responsum deals with the question of women’s counting for a minyan for mikra Megilla, not with the question of whether women can read for other women. Indeed, to the best of our knowledge, R. Ovadiah Yosef never tackles this latter question head-on in any of his writings, though neither does he rule it out, despite his many opportunities to do so. This is presumably because he maintains that by law (mi-tsad ha-din according to Sephardic usage), women can read even for men, though he permits it in practice only if there are no other viable options (bi-she’at ha-dehak). See Yehave Da’at, V, sec. 34, note 2, p. 162; MeShiurei Maran haRishon leTsiyyon Rabbeinu Ovadiah Yosef Shelita, I, Gilyon 19, VaYera 5756, sec. 2; Me’or Yisrael, I, Megilla 4a, s.v. “Tosafot d”h nashim”; Yalkut Yosef, V, Dinei Keriat haMegilla, sec. 12, p. 287; Kitsur Shulhan Arukh Yalkut Yosef, sec. 689, no. 7. Indeed, his son R. David Yosef, Torat ha-Moadim: Hilkhot u-Minhagei Purim ve-Hodesh Adar, sec. 5., note 9, p. 139, s.v “ve-ha-Rama,” indicates that despite the rulings of Magen Avraham and Korban Netanel (vide infra), Ashkenazi (and certainly Sefardi) women can read for other women.
The above posekim who permit a women’s Megilla reading reject two often-quoted rulings: The first is that of Magen Avraham, O.H. sec. 689, no. 6, who, based on Midrash Ne’elam Rut, indicates that it is preferable for women to hear the Megilla from men. Although R. Israel Meir haKohen cites Magen Avraham in Mishna Berura, O.H. sec.