Some poskim say that according to Rambam, women are only obligated to pray once daily because in Rambam’s opinion, the mitzva of prayer is rooted in the biblical commandment to turn to God in prayer daily. Since this mitzva is not dependent on time, women are obligated to fulfill it. Women are only exempt from time-bound positive mitzvot, but are required to fulfill mitzvot that are independent of time. Although every day brings with it a new mitzva to pray, nevertheless, prayer is not considered a time-bound mitzva as all days are equal, without exception for festivals, Shabbat, and weekdays. Additionally, within the 24-hour period itself, the Torah did not fix a specific time for prayer; hence the biblical commandment to pray is a daily mitzva that is not dependent on time.
It follows, then, that the rabbinic enactment that men pray three times daily does not apply to women; rather, women are biblically obligated to pray only one prayer daily. However, since the Sages established a fixed prayer formula, women must fulfill their biblical commandment to pray by reciting the Shemoneh Esrei instituted by the Sages. Additionally, since the Sages set fixed times for prayer, women must pray during one of those times, be it during the time for Shaĥarit, Minĥa, or Ma’ariv. 1
- As we saw in the previous note, according to the interpretation of Rif and Rambam, the Gemara states that women are obligated in prayer because it is a mitzva that is not time-bound. Biblically, there is an obligation to pray every day and the whole day is valid for prayer; therefore it is not bound by time. Many Aĥaronim, among them Baĥ and Pri Ĥadash, understand Rambam’s and Rif’s opinion to mean that women must pray once a day. Many poskim (such as Pri Megadim) maintain that SA also rules accordingly. This is the ruling and explanation given in Yabi’a Omer 6:17 and Yeĥaveh Da’at 3:7, where other Rishonim and Aĥaronim who also take this stance are mentioned. ↩