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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo 5773

Ask the Rabbi: Priorities in Last Minute Shacharit for Women

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: During vacation, my teenage daughter is willing to get up to daven by sof z’man tefilla (the end of the proper time for Shemoneh Esrei), but she does no always leave enough time to say everything and still get to Shemoneh Esrei on time. What should she do?


Answer: We will leave the educational part of the question to you and address the halachic elements.

All agree that women are obligated in tefilla (Berachot 20b). There is a minority opinion that it is enough for them to minimally fulfill the Torah obligation by making any request of Hashem during the day (see Magen Avraham 106:2). However, most assume that there is a rabbinic obligation that mirrors a man’s core obligation, which requires saying Shemoneh Esrei, at least at Shacharit (Mishna Berura 106:4). According to the approach that the woman’s obligation is patterned after the man’s, she too should recite Shemoneh Esrei by the end of the fourth hour (a third of daylight), although, if need be, she can do so until astronomical midday, as a man can (see Halichot Bat Yisrael 2:11). Because of the opinions that women have a lesser obligation, it is not uncommon for women to be more lenient.

Women are, strictly speaking, exempt from reciting Kri’at Shema, which is a time-based mitzva (Berachot 21b), but it is recommended that they make a point of accepting the principles of faith included therein by reciting at least part of it (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 70:1). Opinions range greatly regarding Birkot Kri’at Shema for women . Since they are not required to say Kri’at Shema, they ostensibly should not be required to say “their berachot” either, and this is the Magen Avraham’s (70:1) opinion. On the other hand, these berachot  possess an element of tefilla, as we see from the fact that they are recited after sof z’man Kri’at Shema, as long as it is still the time of tefilla (see Shut Harashba I:69; Shulchan Aruch, OC 58:6)HH. There are opinions that not only is a woman not required to recite Birkot Kri’at Shema, but that for Sephardim, who generally say that women may not voluntarily recite a beracha on a mitzva they are exempt from (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, OC 17:2), they may not do so here either. Some say that the rule that Sephardi women may not voluntarily recite a beracha does not apply here because the problem is generally the word “v’tzivanu” (He commanded us), which is not recited here or in general regarding berachot of praise (see Ohr L’tzion II:6:10). This seems to be the more prevalent minhag. On other hand, Rav O. Yosef (Yabia Omer II, OC 6) says that Sephardi women may not recite Birkot Kri’at Shema or even P’sukei D’zimra with Hashem’s Name.

While women (certainly, Ashkenazi ones) are encouraged to recite as much of davening as they can, the aforementioned opinions are important in helping to set priorities. P’sukei D’zimra and Kri’at Shema and its berachot should not be cause that Shemoneh Esrei not be said by its proper time (even though the severity of that time is less than it is for men – see Halichot Bat Yisrael 2:11). The next most important thing is Emet V’yatziv, which contains the mitzva of mentioning the Exodus from Egypt, which women are likely to be obligated in (Magen Avraham 70:1) and finishes with “ga’al Yisrael,” which is an important introduction into Shemoneh Esrei (Berachot 9b). Since saying at least the beginning of Shema does not take much time, that should precede Emet V’yatziv despite a woman’s technical exemption. The next priority is Psukei D’zimra, at least a shortened version, which would be at least Ashrei, and, if possible, Baruch She’amar and Yishtabach, as it is possible that women are obligated in it (see Mishna Berura 70:2). If there is more time, a full Kri’at Shema and its berachot would be appropriate, followed by a longer P’sukei D’zimra (see Halichot Bat Yisrael 2:(7)). Birkot Hashachar can be said after davening and after z’man tefilla if there was not time to recite them before, but one should try to recite Birkot Hatorah before (see Halichot Bat Yisrael 2:6).

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