There is a fundamental difference between men’s and women’s obligation to study Torah. Men, even after they have learned all of halakha and the fundamentals of faith, are still obligated to set aside time to study Torah and to review and deepen what they have learned. The directive, “Let not this Book of the Torah cease from your lips; study it day and night” (Yehoshua 1:8) is directed at them. Although all week when they are busy at work they fulfill their obligation to study Torah with one chapter of any Torah text studied during the day and another at night (Menaĥot 99b), on Shabbat men must fulfill the verse according to its straightforward meaning, as the Sages said: “You should dedicate Shabbat to Torah alone” (Tanna De-vei Eliyahu §1; above section 1).
Women are not obligated to set aside time for Torah study, but they are obligated to know what the Torah says about how to live life, so that Torah will illuminate and guide their paths in the realms of halakha as well as theology and morals. A woman who can accomplish this with a minimal amount of study need do no more, while one who needs to study a great deal in order to achieve this must do so. This depends on the woman’s disposition and also varies by era. There were times when a small amount of learning was sufficient for most women; but nowadays, when life is more complicated and general wisdom has proliferated, women must study more halakha, theology, and works of moral instruction (Peninei Halakha: Collected Essays I 1:16).
Since women are not obligated to set aside time to study Torah every day and every night, they are also not obligated to dedicate half of Shabbat to learning. However, since Torah makes both men and women happy, there is a mitzva for women to study Torah on Shabbat because it is included in spiritual oneg Shabbat. Additionally, women are obligated to study halakha and theology. As Shabbat is both a holy day and the day on which the Torah was given, it is a fitting time for Torah study and an appropriate time for women to set aside to study halakha and theology. Nevertheless, since according to the letter of the law they are not obligated to set aside time to study Torah, in the years when they are busy with childcare they do not have to set aside time to learn on Shabbat. However, women who are not busy taking care of children should study a great deal on Shabbat, in a joyful and relaxed manner. Even women who are busy around the house should try to set aside some time to study Torah on Shabbat. Participating in Torah classes is recommended, since women also need the Torah’s guidance. At the time of the Sages, there were women who attended the Shabbat drasha; sometimes the derashot were long and the women came home late.
It is wonderful if a couple enjoys studying Torah together. Through their joint learning they merit the presence of the divine, and invite Torah to serve as their guide for life. But a couple who have trouble learning together should not feel bad about it, because sometimes the great love that they share may make it difficult for them to concentrate on learning together.