As we learned, some poskim maintain that women must pray Shaĥarit and Minĥa every day (above, 2:2). Other poskim say that women are only obligated to pray one daily prayer, be it Shaĥarit or Minĥa, and although it is preferable to pray Shaĥarit, one who has difficulty praying in the morning may pray Minĥa (above, 2:3). In practice, it is best to pray both Shaĥarit and Minĥa in accordance with the opinion of most poskim, but a woman who prays one prayer fulfills her obligation (above, 2:5).
Minĥa consists of Shemoneh Esrei. Although men recite Ashrei before it and Taĥanun and Aleinu after it, women are not obligated to recite those passages. Still, a woman who does not recite Ashrei beforehand must wait a few seconds, the amount of time it takes to walk a distance of four amot (as explained above, 10:11), before starting the Amida.
The time for Minĥa was established based on the time that the afternoon Tamid was offered – from half an hour after midday (six and a half seasonal hours into the day). Although, in principle, the time for offering the afternoon Tamid begins at midday, the Sages were concerned that people would err in estimating the position of the sun and cause the offering to be brought before midday; therefore, they fixed the earliest time for the afternoon Tamid at half an hour after midday.
The time for Minĥa lasts until evening; however, the poskim disagree about Minĥa’s precise final time. The disagreement hinges on the deadline for bringing the afternoon Tamid. Some say only until sunset (Talmidei Rabbeinu Yona, Gra, MB 233:14), but most poskim say until nightfall (SA Rema 233:1). In practice, one must try to finish reciting Minĥa before sunset. However, be-di’avad, one may rely on the opinion of most poskim and pray within another 13.5 minutes after sunset, for all agree that in every season night does not begin before then (Peninei Halakha: Prayer 24:4). 1
- To ensure that no one will forget to pray Minĥa, the Sages instituted that from the time of ĥatzot onward, one must be careful not to begin actions that will likely cause him to be so distracted that he will forget to pray, as explained in SA 232:2 and Peninei Halakha: Prayer 24:5-6. The poskim do not say that these prohibitions pertain to women, and it seems that even women who regularly pray Minĥa need not take these precautions. Possibly because women may fulfill their obligation of prayer by reciting only Shaĥarit and possibly because women were at home and were not preoccupied work or preparations for long meals, the Sages did not institute these safeguard because they Sages did not make enactments about uncommon occurrences. Based on this, even according to the poskim who maintain that women must pray Minĥa, the precautionary prohibitions do not apply. As with other mitzvot, one must simply plan her time properly. ↩