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Tefilla for women


Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 10, 5771
I have a question with regard to women and Tefilla. I know that a women is not obligated to prayer like a man is, however if a women takes on this obligation, is she also obligated by the times of the prayers (kriyat shema, amidah)? If she says the shema after the zman kriyat shema, would she fulfill her "obligation"?
Shalom, As it is well known, the prayers of women are particularly important, and in fact many of the laws of prayer are learnt from Hannah - a woman. So it is especially nice to answer your question which implies a true devotion to this great mitzvah. It is a matter of debate as to the obligation of women in prayer, and many opinions hold that women are in fact obligated to say the Amidah prayer at Shacharit and Mincha (but not the evening Maariv service) (Mishna Brurah). But you are correct in saying that a woman is not obligated "to pray like a man" - and there are many parts of the service that women do not have to say. For example, the Mishna states that women are exempt from the obligation to say Shema. Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch advises women to say Shema daily in order to accept upon themselves the yoke of heaven, and this is certainly the widespread practice. As to the times - the morning Amidah must be said in its correct time - up to the end of the fourth hour ("sof zman tefillah"). If this is missed it may be said up to "midday" (halachic midday which changes according to the length of the sunlight hours). The Shema may be said at any time, as it is not being said as an obligation, but rather as an acceptance of the yoke of heaven, as we wrote above. The blessings before and after the Shema ("yozer or", "ahava raba", and "ga'al Yisra'el") must also be said before the end of the fourth hour. If this time was missed it is halachically very problematic to say these blessings - but those women who do so have opinions on which to rely. All the rest of the service may also be recited unbounded by time restraints. May all your prayers be heard, together with those of all Klal Yisrael.
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