Peninei Halakha

02. Shofar and Musaf on the Days of Awe

Women are exempt from the mitzva of shofar since it is a positive time-bound mitzva, though women who wish to fulfill it earn reward. It is customary for Jewish women to fulfill the mitzva of shofar. If a man who already heard the shofar blows for women, he does not recite a berakha on their behalf. If a woman who follows Ashkenazic custom is present, she recites the berakha before the blowing, and if there are other women in attendance, they listen to her and respond “amen.” However, if all the women present follow Sephardic custom, they fulfill the mitzva without a berakha (SA 589:6; above, 2:8).

As we have learned (above, 2:9), the poskim disagree about whether women must pray Musaf. Some say that since Musaf contains a request for mercy, it is like other obligatory prayers, which, according to Ramban and most poskim, women must recite. Furthermore, since Musaf was instituted to honor the sanctity of the day, women must recite it just as they must recite kiddush (Magen Giborim). Others maintain that since Musaf is time-dependent, women are exempt from its recitation (Tzelaĥ). In practice, since it is a rabbinic commandment, halakhic practice follows the lenient opinion and women are not obligated to pray Musaf, although they may do so and are rewarded for it. On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it is proper that all women pray Musaf because the primary request for mercy on the Days of Awe is in Musaf.

Women fulfill Hatarat Nedarim (the annulment of vows) with the recitation of Kol Nidrei on the eve of Yom Kippur. Therefore, women should make sure to arrive at the synagogue in time for Kol Nidrei. A married woman may appoint her husband as an agent and ask him to annul her vows when he annuls his own. However, an unmarried woman may not appoint another man or woman to annul vows on her behalf (SA 239:56; Taz 46; Rav Pe’alim OĤ 4:34:5),

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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