the more intricate areas of Jewish law, such as the laws of nidda (family purity) and Hoshen Mishpat (monetary matters). Only such rabbis were of the caliber necessary to rule on halakhic issues with far-reaching communal ramifications.217* A few months after the above responsum appeared, a subsequent, undated, English218 clarification was issued, again penned by R. Mordechai Tendler on R. Feinstein’s stationery. It reads as follows:
In the last few months, there have been numerous requests of rabbanim [rabbis], rashei kehillot [community leaders], and members of women’s organizations for clarification of the letter written in my Grandfather’s shlita”h name to Rabbi Fund. Upon consultation with my Grandfather shlita”h the following clarification is being offered. As stated in my letter, the detailed discussion was purely in a theoretical sense. My grandfather pragmatically feels that the possibility of a group of women, or for that matter men, existing in any one community which will fulfill the lengthy philosophical criteria mentioned in his printed teshuvah is extremely remote. Therefore, realistically speaking, he doesn’t commend or actually condone the establishment of women’s prayer groups.
Rav Mordechai Tendler Segan le-Mori Savi ha-Gaon Rav Moshe Feinstein Shlit”a
R. Feinstein’s final teshuva was given orally in October 1985 and was quite unequivocal. R. Chaim Spring requested that R. Mordechai Tendler discuss with his grandfather the propriety of a women’s Megilla reading held yearly in Rehovot, Israel. R. Tendler answered that R. Feinstein had no objections to such a reading.219 It must be acknowledged, though, that inasmuch as women are fundamentally halakhically obligated in hearing the Megilla, the notion of a women’s Megilla reading poses less of a problem for rabbinic authorities than does the idea of a women’s prayer group. As a result, many posekim220—including some who oppose women’s prayer groups221—concur that there is no halakhic problem with women reading Megilla for themselves, individually or in a large group.
As already noted, a similar approach to women’s services has been adopted across the Atlantic as the official policy of the office of the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain in consultation with the London Beit Din. The text of their ruling reads as follows: