04. The Poskim Who Maintain that Women Fulfill Their Obligation with Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah

There are lenient poskim who maintain that according to Rambam’s opinion women are only bound by the biblical command, that is, they are required to recite some sort of prayer every day. They fulfill this mitzva with any petition to God. Therefore, when the Sages instituted the recitation of three prayers in the specific wording of eighteen berakhot, the enactment applied to men but not to women.

Some poskim question how is it possible to fulfill one’s obligation with any sort of petition, for according to Rambam (MT, Laws of Prayer 1:2) even the sequence of the prayers is biblically mandated; one must begin by praising God, then beseechingly and imploringly make requests, and conclude by giving praise and thanks to God. This indicates that when the prayer is not recited in this order, one’s obligation is not fulfilled. So how is it possible for women to fulfill their biblical obligation with any kind of request (Pri Megadim, Magen Giborim)? A few Aĥaronim explain that women may fulfill their obligation of prayer by reciting Birkhot Ha-Torah and Birkhot Ha-shaĥar, for Birkhot Ha-Torah open with praise, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His mitzvot,” continue with words of request, “Please Lord, our God, make pleasant the words of Your Torah in our mouths…and may we and our offspring…know Your Name and study Your Torah…,” and end with thanksgiving, “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who selected us from among all the nations and gave us His Torah.”

The same is true of Birkhot Ha-shaĥar. In all of the blessings there is praise, followed by request in Ha-ma’avir Sheina, “May it be Your will…that You accustom us to [study] Your Torah and attach us to Your mitzvot, and do not bring to error…,” and at the conclusion, thanks, “Blessed are you God, Who bestows beneficial kindnesses upon His people Israel.” 1

  1. MA 106:2 states that perhaps according to Rambam it is possible to fulfill the mitzva with any kind of a request, noting that it is upon this assumption that women who suffice with some sort of request in the morning, rely. (It is noteworthy that also in Birkat Ha-mazon and in Me-ein Shalosh there is praise, request, and thanks, and women who recite those berakhot during the day fulfill their biblical obligation of prayer.) However, MA adds that according to most poskim, women must pray Shaĥarit and Minĥa. Likewise, MB 106:4 concurs that although many women rely on the reasoning that it is possible to fulfill the mitzva with any kind of a request, it is best that they pray two prayers, as in the opinion of most poskim. R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach also states that women customarily practice leniently by fulfilling their obligation with a brief prayer (Halikhot Shlomo 2, n. 5). However, it can be inferred from all of the above-mentioned poskim that le-khatĥila one should not rely on a brief prayer.  

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Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman