New York – A Womans Halachic Obligation To Daven


    fileNew York – The halachic laws regarding a woman’s obligation to pray have perhaps been somewhat enigmatic. We have all heard that women are exempt from time-bound mitzvos. And yet, although the mitzvah of davening is a daily obligation, with different times of the day associated with different tefillos and the recitation of the Shema in the morning and evening, numerous poskim, including the Mishnah Berurah, require that women daven.

    What are their obligations exactly? What if they generally attend a class, for example, and are running late? Should they skip parts of their regular davening routine? And why are women exempt from time-bound mitzvos anyway?

    There are at least two explanations for the idea, which is mentioned in Kiddushin 29a, that women are exempt from time-bound mitzvos. The first explanation is that women are generally entrusted with the important task of overseeing the spiritual development of the children of the family as well as taking care of the physical needs of the family. (See Avudraham in his commentary on the siddur.)

    The Maharal (Derashos al HaTorah, end of Sefer Be’er HaGolah, page 28, cited in Pinas HaHalachah) explains that women are on a higher spiritual plane and can more easily achieve d’veikus to Hashem. A woman can therefore achieve her Olam Haba even without the time-bound mitzvos and without the toil that is involved in immersion in Torah studies.

    Specific Laws And Customs

    Modeh Ani. The Mishnah Berurah rules (1:8) that women are obligated in the tefillah of “Modeh Ani” upon wakening. When it comes to hoda’ah, giving thanks, women are just as obligated as men. (We see that a woman who has given birth is obligated in thanks.) It seems that unless they have a minhag otherwise, they should recite the standard nusach of “Modeh” and not “Modah,” the female conjugation of the verb (based upon Eishel Avraham, O.C. 46).

    Netilas Yadayim. Women must also ritually wash their hands, netilas yadayim, in the morning upon waking up. Like men, they can do so after Modeh Ani. If a woman will not be able to daven the other berachos in the morning, she should recite the berachah of Al Netilas Yadayim immediately after washing or, if she needs to use the facilities, she should recite it with Asher Yatzar afterward (see M.B. 1:4 and B.H. “Afilu”). If she will be reciting the other berachos in the morning, she should wait to recite the berachah of Al Netilas Yadayim with davening. The berachah of Elokai Neshamah should also be recited by women. It should ideally be said along with Asher Yatzar (M.B. 6:12).

    Birchos HaShachar. Women are obligated in the recitation of the Morning Blessings (M.B. 70:2). Even though they may be considered time-bound mitzvos, women are included in these blessings because they were established based upon the order of the world and its conduct—how mankind benefits daily.

    Birchos HaTorah. Women should say the Blessings of the Torah, including Birkas Kohanim and Eilu Devarim (selected passages of the Mishnah) that come right afterward in the Siddur (S.A. 47:14). If, however, one did not say it and subsequently recited Ahavah Rabbah and the Shema in her regular davening routine, she should not later recite the Birchos HaTorah (see Yeshuos Yaakov 47:8; the reason is that her recitation of Kerias Shema is probably considered to be “learning,” since she recites it on account of minhag and not obligation.)

    Korbanos. The Mishnah Berurah rules, like the Magen Avraham (47:14), that women should recite the korbanos section of davening—Parashas Olah, Parashas Tamid, and the Ketores. Those who follow the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Lubavitch women) only have to recite the Korban Tamid (SAR 47:10).

    Pesukei D’Zimrah. The Mishnah Berurah rules that women should recite Pesukei D’Zimrah (MB 70:2). This is the minhag of most women who daven regularly. Lubavitch women are not obligated in reciting it, but may do so if they wish (SAR 70:1).

    Shema. Although technically women are exempt from reciting Shema, the Shulchan Aruch rules that it is proper to instruct them to accept the yoke of heaven with the recitation of at least the first pasuk. The minhag has spread, however, to recite all three paragraphs of the Shema and its blessings. The section after the Shema known as Emes V’Yatziv should also be recited. Since women are obligated in the tefillah of Shemoneh Esreih, they should also place Geulah (the section after Shema) next to tefillah (i.e., Shemoneh Esreih) in their davening. They must therefore recite the sections right after the Shema and before the Shemoneh Esreih.

    Shemoneh Esreih. The Mishnah Berurah rules that women should recite the Shemoneh Esreih for Shacharis and Minchah (M.B. 106:4) since tefillah is a request for mercy. (It may be true for Ma’ariv, as well, but the minhag has not been like this.)

    Tachanun. Women are exempt from the recitation of Tachanun (Responsa Machazeh Eliyahu No. 20, as cited in Pinas HaHalachah, p. 40). Women have never accepted the tefillah of Tachanun upon themselves, and the minhag is that they do not recite it.

    Ashrei and U’va L’Tzion. Women are exempt from reciting these latter tefillos as well (See Machazeh Eliyahu). The reason is that the prayer of U’va L’Tzion was instituted so that K’lal Yisrael would be involved in a minimum of Torah study each day. The latter Ashrei was instituted to make a separation between the tefillah and the latter Kedushah in U’va L’Tzion. Therefore, women are exempt from both of these tefillos.

    Shir shel Yom. Since the recitation of this tefillah was established based upon saying the prayers on the korbanos when they are brought in their proper time (see Maseches Sofrim 18:1) and women are obligated in the recitation of korbanos, it is likely that they are likewise obligated in the Shir shel Yom. Women should therefore recite this tefillah if possible.

    Aleinu. The Levush (O.C. 133:1) explains that the prayer of Aleinu was established to recite praise and thanks for Hashem after Shemoneh Esreih just as the Pesukei D’Zimrah was established prior to Shemoneh Esreih. Since this is the case and the Mishnah Berurah does rule that Pesukei D’Zimrah should be recited by women, it seems that they should recite the Aleinu as well.


    With this brief overview, we can now return to our original questions about whether a woman who is running late for class should skip portions of davening. While it may not be found in the Shulchan Aruch, there is a general obligation mentioned by almost all of the gedolei ha’mussar and roshei yeshiva of our generation that each and every student should feel an obligation to keep the sedarim of our schools and our yeshivos.

    Classes, shiurim, and sedarim should start on time, and it is each student’s obligation to help maintain an atmosphere of punctuality and timeliness. That being the case, young ladies in high school or seminary should make every effort to come on time so they can daven properly and not be late for class.

    In the event that she is on time and she cannot keep up with the davening, she should recite the berachos and the korbanos at home and skip the sections after Shemoneh Esreih. Later, after class, she should recite Aleinu and the Shir shel Yom.

    Schools should also be careful to ensure that the students have sufficient davening time. It is important to remember that the purpose of tefillah is to further the unique d’veikus Bashem that K’lal Yisrael has enjoyed since the dawn of Jewish history.

    The author may be reached by e-mail at

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    1. Kol hakovod to Rav Hoffman, shlita, for making clear that a woman has essentially the same chiyuv to daven as men, with some minor exceptions noted, and needs to organize her life to provide sufficient time to daven with kavanah.

      • thats terrific for the women..
        maybe the next step will be a “chiyuv” to require the men to help out at home.. like changing soiled diapers, cooking and serving meals (cleanup / diswashing too) and dont forget the laundry and food shopping..

        • There is nothing mutually exclusive about davening and finding time to share the household chores and taking care of the children. My wife and I both work and we share the cooking/cleaning/helping kids with homework. We both find time to daven every day in our own derechs and are better off because we take the time to step back from our hectic lives to thank hashem for our health, happiness and parnassah. For those men who think that by having their wives daven every day, they might, chas vachalilah, have to work a bit more around the house or spend more time with the kids, get over it. You should be doing that already whether or not your wives or girlfriends are shomrei torah umitzvot.

      • So on top of being the breadwinner, (cos the trend is for men to sit in kollel) the woman has to run the home, take care of the kids, and now she still has to organise her life to find time to daven. Gimme a break.

    2. the halacha is clear that womon are NOT chayev to say shmona esrei a short prayer of any kind would suffice , thats what my mother grandmother and was the common practice among choshuva yidden for hundreds of years.

      • Not sure where you learn your halacha but the Shulchan Oruch HaRav and MIshne Berura clearly pasken lmaisa that women ARE mechuyiv in shomene esrei of shacharis and mincha. Along with the other parts mentioned (korban hatamid, birchos hashachar and bircos hatorah, and preferrably shema and pesukei dzimra).

        • Where does the Shulchan Oruch Harav and the Mishna Berura get their psak from? There is no mention of a chiyuv for a woman to daven from all of Shas! In fact when Chana davened, Eli Haohen thought she was drunk, since he never saw a woman davening.. When Rivka davened, Rashi writes that Yitzchok’s tefillah was actually heard.

          • um…. he thought she was drunk because she was moving her lips while davening quietly which was unheard of until then, not because she was a ‘woman davening’

      • “ I never heard of this rabbi”

        Rav Hoffmany is a great talmid chochom and recognized posek who writes on occasion for VIN and other important sites for orthodox yiddin. His views provide an objective and easily understood summary of the concensus view of gadolei hador in matters of halacha.

    3. All the above might be correct, but I never saw my mother or grandmother daven. and they are /were very choshove an holy women. Instead of preaching the outward form of true Jiddishkeit, they shold teach girls the time honored and true inner values of our living link to Har Sinai. When it comes to inner tznus, humbleness before Hashem, real midos toivos, these get swept under the rug, but frumkeit, which was not our mesoire is shown and propogated today.
      This is not the real Jiddishkeit, Sorry

      • Our mothers and bubbas would have been even more chosheve women but more importantly, more satisfied women and more able to support their mishpachas, if the men in their lives would not have brainwashed them not to daven. The ability to take time and have a personal conversation every day with hashem allows a woman to be a better mother, wife and household manager.

      • What was okay for one generation may not work for this generation. This generation needs to push to a much higher madreiga (hence the need for Bais Yaakovs and seminaries) to fight the even greater forces of tumah in the world that exist. Your grandmother did not have internet, untzniusdik ladies magazines, cellphones and text-messaging to distract her, but your children’s children’s children are facing a violent and pritzusdik world that is invading our private homes at an alarming rate. While I agree with your statement, you are neglecting to mention that even choshuve Chassidische teachers in Chassidic girls schools are checking their email messages and text-messaging in the classroom IN FRONT OF THE GIRLS and are falling into the pit of darkness by succumbing to this lunacy every day.

        • “even choshuve Chassidische teachers in Chassidic girls schools are checking their email messages and text-messaging in the classroom IN FRONT OF THE GIRLS and are falling into the pit of darkness by succumbing to this lunacy every day”

          Sorry, but I’ve seen pictures of great rabbonim in EY and the US checking their email and using PDAs so what kind of lunacy are you talking about. I assume you are not suggesting that these chosshuve beis yaakov rabbonim and teachers are secretly viewing porn or otherwise engaging in illicit activity. Please get a life and stop insulting shomrei torah umitzvot who rely upon email and PDAs to make more efficient use of their time. They are not choteh u’machi es harabim as you suggest.

          • Sir, I respectfully disagree with you. Once a teacher enters a classroom, she is in full view of her pupils and is indeed a role model. I grew up without email and cellphones and internet. None of my teachers had this sickness of constantly checking their messages or text-messaging girlfriends or sisters. This is indeed a disease of lunacy and a breach of protocol and proper behavior. I don’t think Rabbis should be on the street talking on cellphones or engaging in this lunacy with email and text messaging in full view. This behavior can be done discreetly in an office. I live in Boro Park so I am exposed to it constantly and I find this behavior an imitation of the goyim and disgusting. I have a life so stop using that goyish insult to shut me up. I dispute that you have seen “great rabbonim” checking their email in the street or in front of their congregations; I think you are lying to intentionally mislead.

            • If you’ve never seen rabbonim checking their email you must live in a cave. Thats also ther reason you don’t have any friends who email you since the reception in a cave is generally very schvach. You can waste time on the phone or writing letters in longhand and using snail mail. The rest of the world has passed you by.

            • Blocking and diverting…..typical tactics of verbal abusers. Nothing of what you said undermines the statements I made about how Bais Yaakov teachers should not be using internet in the class or talking on cellphones in class. Sir, I have more education in one little finger that you will ever hope to achieve in your entire lifetime so don’t try to outsmart me.

      • I had no trouble with your posting until you wrote “this is not the real Jiddishkeit, Sorry.” With all due respect who are YOU to determine what is the real Yiddishkeit?

      • to old fashioned: I do not daven every morning. maybe now I will. BUT my grandmother who was from a small town in Romania got up every morning to daven and say tehilim before going to work. We all just became too busy in our fast paced lives.

      • How did such “chosheve” women have a son/daughter who has such a narrow and backward view of yiddeshkeit. Its not torah moshe mi’sinia for women to stay home, clean and take care of the kids. Some of the greatest women in jewish history were outspoken and assertive leaders of klal yisroel

    4. We have finally impressed upon women that their kids and family are their first chiyuv and it is OK for them to miss a tefilla for the sake of her other chiyumvim. Now your wonderful article will give women a wonderful sense of guilt when they miss a tefilla. I can just imagine all the calls to my husband, the Rabbi…..we will see many frustrated husbands upset that their wife HAD to stop for Mincha and therefore two kids got into a fight, a third fell into the toilet and yet another ate peanuts and was in the Hatzala van on the way to the hospital. I was always a big davener, and I still am. There were times when my kids were all little and my husband told me NOT TO DAVEN. It was hard, but I realized that he was right. Although Maariv is not a chiyuv at all for women, many daven it because night is a time when all the kids are (hopefully) sleeping and one can have peace and quiet. Better to tell the women to daven to Hashem in any language at any time about anything…and leave the formal tefillos for when they will have the time to focus and mean what they are saying. Meanwhile all the single girls should be davening and enjoying their time while they can…

    5. Rabbi Weinberger lists the Halachos and their order of importance, along with what the Alter Bubbes used to do in the Artscroll Women’s Siddur. A woman with young children is not Mechuyav to daven when her children need her

    6. Well, it is very nice if a woman finds the time to daven but if it goes on the cheshbon of the kinderlech its not ok (as far as I know) I am a mother b”h and I am embaressed to say but I don’t always get to daven I definately feel guilty but I know I’m doing the right thing

    7. If I stop watching my toddler for one minute, she gets into trouble. My other kids were the same at that age. How, pray tell, am I supposed to say shemone esrei if I’m home alone with the kids. On yom kippur I tried davening neilah for a few minutes and gave them food to eat, and still had to communicate with them using “nu” and hand motions during shemone esrei. Sometimes I think that rabbonim who paskin like this don’t know what it’s like to have kids or only had aidel kids who played nicely in the corner. There are definitely valid sources that say women don’t have to daven.

    8. Rabbi Frand says according to the shitas HaRambam the minimum that a women needs to daven each day is to utter some form of praise and thanks to Hashem. Obviously a women who has more time should daven properly but for a mother with young children who doesn’t have an extra second acknowledging Hashem is enough.

    9. Rabbi Yair Haufman is to my memory a modern orthodox and that his right but it seems to me that he is trying here to show an egalitarian approach to suit his vision.

      By carefully collecting opinions to each section of the tefilah he comes to his own conclusion about women’s chiyuvim. To cite the Mishna Berurah on a site that is visited by frum Jews of many persausions is not being honest and fair to visitors of this popular site.

      The Magen Avraham (usually the most widely accepted view in psak) notes that most women don’t daven and he offers a defense of that practice. That should really close the case for those who base their entire yiddishkeit on tradition of our pious mothers and grandmothers who did not daven regular tefilos.

      Of course there is a major dispute amoung the poskim including the mishna brurah if the minhag should be changed but it is not for an internet Rabbi to make psakin on who shall be followed. And if he is merely citing various views, why did he not cite those poskim who defend the wide practice of women not davening, I suspect it was because of his mondernist views which is his right and I respect that right.

      As for the Mishnah Brurah the sefer Sichos Chafetz Chaim [vol1:27], his son Rav Aryeh Leib Kagan Zt”L writes “my mother almost never davened as long as we did not leave from under her care, saying: that my father [the chafetz chaim] exempted her [from davening] as long as she is involved in bringing up the kids”

      In the sefer Shu”t Machaze Eliyahu [19] brings in the name of the Chazon Ish when he was asked about womens obligation to daven, he replied that those women who are occupied with children are in the catagory of a person whos mind is distracted and is exempted from this chiyuv as in the Talmud Eruvin [65:1].

      Just two sources which are easily accessable to anybody who calles himself Rabbi.

    10. that didn’t answer alot of questions. Shachris only or also mincha? what about maariv? What about mussaf on SHabbos and YT? Do women also have to say shema and amidah in the proper zemanim?

    11. Yoine Cohen well said.

      I am not sure if Hoffman is so modern, but I also noticed the selective citations.

      I’ll be dan l’kaf zechus that he wasn’t so much preaching to every woman that she must daven even if her family duties make it difficult, but was addressing those women that do have time to Daven, and want to know which parts of Tefilla even apply to them.

      This Limud Zechus had better be right, because the end of his piece about their being a “chiyuv” to come to class on time is utterly ridiculous seen in any other light.
      Does he seriously believe that coming on time to class is a bigger obligation than caring for one’s children?
      I hope not.

      So he must be assuming that women with children are Pattur and he’s only talking to those who can daven.

      (Or he could just be acting politically correct with his ambiguous wording about a “general obligation” to come to class on time.
      After all , he teaches for a living. )


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