synagogue,101 rather than with the community at large, if such allows for greater concentration. In addition, among those posekim who maintain otherwise, namely that tefilla be-tsibbur is to be preferred, some do so on the assumption that communal prayer for men is an obligation, while increased kavvana is merely a hiddur mitsvah.102 Were communal prayer not a bona fide obligation, but simply a meritorious performance of the commandment, then they too might well agree that enhanced kavvana would take priority. It follows that those women who find that their “service of the heart” is of a superior quality when “davening” with an all-women’s prayer group can muster significant halakhic authority in support of their forgoing a normative public prayer service in favor of a women’s service.103
Turning now to the reading of Megillat Ester: many noted halakhists104 rule that women, unlike men, are not required to hear a public reading of the Megilla.105 Moreover, contrary to the conclusion drawn by R. Schachter, the consensus of leading aharonim106 is that ten women alone do indeed constitute a proper minyan107 for both the reading of the Megilla and reciting of “Ha-rav et riveinu” benediction which follows it.108 As a result of the above two halakhic rulings, it is a prevalent custom worldwide109 to have a second Megilla reading for women, where no provisions are made to have present a minyan of ten men. It would appear, therefore, that the majority of posekim would find no strictly halakhic imperfection in an exclusively women’s Megilla reading.
R. Schachter’s final argument, concerning Parshat Zakhor, while clearly rooted in the sources, appears to be constructed from minority opinions. First, most authorities rule that only men were commanded to remember the wanton attack on the Israelites by the Amalekite armies; women have no obligation whatsoever to participate in the yearly reading of Parshat Zakhor.110 Moreover, even if women are required to recall the battle with Amalek, it does not necessarily follow that they must fulfill their obligation through a Torah scroll reading, with the usual benedictions, and in the presence of a minyan. Most latter-day scholars reject the idea that a minyan for Parshat Zakhor is biblically mandated,111 and, consequently, that the attendant blessings are an integral part of the fulfillment of the mitsvah.112 Accordingly, many leading posekim allow women to read Parshat Zakhor from a printed Humash or even to recite it by heart in the privacy of their own home.113 The common rationale behind these leniencies is that the requirements of a Torah scroll, minyan and benedictions are all part of