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woman’s obligation to pray


Rabbi David Sperling

Iyyar 15, 5776
Shalom, First of all thank you for your very helpful side. I am coming back to my roots and I am learning a lot throught it! I just read the article about woman’s obligation to pray. I want to start with the prayers, but I don’t know exactly what is meant by: "Women who are busy raising children and running the house are unquestionably permitted to fulfill the commandment of prayer by reciting the morning blessings and the blessings of the Torah alone." can you clarify for me which passages are exactly meant, please? we have an Artscroll Siddur (for men) and we understand some Hebrew. can you please indicate what is meant exactly by giving me the first Hebrew word of each section (there are many pages for the morning blessings and I don’t know where we have to start and what to leave out) and the very last sentence to say. (I am a beginner and I have little children at home, so I would like to start with the absolute minimum...) your help would be greatly appreciated. Best wishes,
Shalom, Thank you for your question. It's wonderful to hear that we are of help to you on your exciting journey back to your roots. May you be blessed with every success. As to the basic prayers, I will try to outline them for you (I hope we are using the same Siddur – but even if not, you should get the general idea, and you can always write again with further questions). On waking up, even before getting out of bed, you should learn to say the one sentence of "Modah Ani…" up to the end of the sentence "…emunatecha". (In my Artscroll it is under the heading "Upon Arising"). In the siddur they have another line ("Reshit Chochma..") but you should skip it, and only focus on Modah Ani. After getting up and when you are ready, and have found a few minuets to set aside for prayer (which is an amazing thing, considering taking care of the children – so you should feel very proud of yourself at this point of the day!), go to the sink and wash your hands. The ideal way to do this is to pour water from a cup over your right hand, then left hand, three times (that is 6 pourings altogether) – but don't get to worried about the details at this stage. The main thing is to wash your hands with water, and then dry them. Now, from the Siddur you should say the blessings for washing your hands and for having gone to the bathroom – these are two blessings that start with the words "Baruch Atah …" the first one is short and finishes with the words "…al netilat ya'dayim" and the second one is a bit longer and finishes with the words "u'mafli la'asot" (in my siddur they are printed under the heading "Morning Blessings" after Adon Olam and Yigdal). Next you will say "Blessings of the Torah" – starting with "Baruch Atah … la'asok b'divray Torah …" and saying all the blessings and verses until "u'bain sh'aino ben brit". This is three pages worth, and finishes before the section called "The Akedah" starts. It includes the blessings for learning Torah, three sections of Torah to learn (the priestly blessing, a mishna, and some Talmud), the blessing "Elohai Neshama…" and then the long string of blessings thanking Hashem for the world we live in, and meriting to be a part of it. After all that, if you have an extra moment, you should say the first line of Shema Yisrael (found later in the Siddur). When you get all this under your belt, you can add the first paragraph of Shema, and then some other prayers – but, you should take these steps "slowly slowly". Now, having prayed all that – I'd suggest to close your eyes for a moment and turn to Hashem in your own words. Praise Him for all He does, ask Him for all you need, Thank Him for all you have. From the heart – with love. Many Blessings.
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