Chapter: Laws of Women’s Prayer

Laws of Women’s Prayer

02. She-asani Ki-rtzono – For Having Made Me According to His Will

The Sages instituted three special berakhot of thanksgiving within Birkhot Ha-shaĥar. They are: “…for not having made me a gentile” (She-lo Asani Goy), “…for not having made me a slave” (She-lo Asani Aved”), and “…For not having made me a … Continue reading

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03. The Order of the Morning Blessings

As we have learned, the original institution of the Sages was to bless and give thanks for each and every act immediately upon enjoying it: as one wakes up, she thanks God for the soul He placed within her and … Continue reading

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04. Birkhot Ha-shaĥar for One Who Does Not Derive Pleasure

There is a dispute among prominent Rishonim about whether one may recite one of the Birkhot Ha-shaĥar from which she does not derive direct personal pleasure. For instance, may a blind person recite Poke’aĥ Ivrim? According to Rambam (MT, Laws … Continue reading

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05. Until When May One Recite Birkhot Ha-shaĥar?

Le-khatĥila, Birkhot Ha-shaĥar should be recited as close as possible to the time one wakes from her sleep, for they were essentially established to be recited as part of the awakening process. Although we customarily recite them later consecutively, it … Continue reading

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06. The Time to Recite Birkhot Ha-shaĥar when Waking Up in the Middle of the Night

As noted, le-khatĥila, all the blessings should be recited as close as possible to the time one wakes up, and it is not necessary to say them specifically after dawn. Therefore, one who arises before dawn in order to work … Continue reading

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07. One Who Was Awake All Night

As a general rule, even one who stayed up all night recites Birkhot Ha-shaĥar. As we learned (section 4 above), these berakhot were instituted on the basis of general enjoyment, and therefore, even if one does not personally derive pleasure … Continue reading

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01. Women’s Connection to Torah

The Torah belongs to all of Israel, men and women alike. When we recite “Who has chosen us from among all the nations” in Birkat Ha-Torah, we mean that God chose all of Israel, men and women, and consequently “gave … Continue reading

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02. The Mitzva of Torah Study for Women

There is a fundamental difference between the mitzva of Torah study for men and for women. The men’s mitzva is to study Torah, whereas the mitzva for women is to know the mitzvot of the Torah so that they can … Continue reading

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03. The Content of Birkhot Ha-Torah and Their Pertinence to Women

Birkhot Ha-Torah are comprised of three parts. In the first part, we bless God Who sanctified us with His mitzvot and commanded us to occupy ourselves with words of Torah. In the second, we request that the Torah, which God … Continue reading

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04. The Value of Birkhot Ha-Torah

After the decimation of Eretz Yisrael and the exile of the Jewish people, a major question arose, reflected in the words of the prophet (Yirmiyahu 9:11): “Why has the land been lost?” Everyone certainly understood that we were exiled from … Continue reading

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05. Whether the Recitation of Birkhot Ha-Torah is a Biblical Mitzva and the Status of Birkat Ahavat Olam

“R. Yehuda says in the name of Rav: whence do we derive that a berakha prior to Torah study is of biblical origin? As it is written: ‘When I call the Lord’s name, ascribe greatness to our God’ (Devarim 32:3)” … Continue reading

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06. Before What Type of Learning Must the Berakhot Be Recited?

One must recite Birkhot Ha-Torah before studying any part of the Torah (SA 47:2). In other words, even one who only intends to learn Midrash or halakha on a particular day must recite Birkhot Ha-Torah at the onset of that … Continue reading

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07. Birkhot Ha-Torah for the Whole Day

Birkhot Ha-Torah recited by a woman in the morning remains effective all day. Even if she goes to eat and to work afterwards, she does not need to repeat the berakhot upon returning to her studies. The poskim disagree about … Continue reading

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01. The Time of Shaĥarit

As we learned (above, 2:2-5), according to most poskim, women must pray the Amidot of Shaĥarit and Minĥa every day, and this is the proper practice le-khatĥila. Hence, it is important to know when the times of Shaĥarit and Minĥa … Continue reading

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02. Seasonal Hours and the Calculation of the Morning Times

The hours referred to by the Sages are seasonal hours (“sha’ot zemaniyot”). That is to say, the day is divided into twelve equal parts, and each part is called a “seasonal hour.” In the summer, when the days are long, … Continue reading

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03. Order of Preference in the Shaĥarit Service

A woman who is preoccupied with raising her children may fulfill her obligation to pray by reciting Birkhot Ha-shaĥar and Birkhot Ha-Torah. In extenuating circumstances even a woman without that burden may fulfill her obligation by reciting only those berakhot … Continue reading

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04. Prohibitions Prior to Prayer

When dawn breaks and the time to pray Shaĥarit arrives, one must stand before his Creator in prayer. He should not place his own honor before God’s honor. Therefore the Sages teach that a man is prohibited from working, traveling, … Continue reading

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05. Greetings Before Prayer

A woman who is about to pray Shaĥarit must take care not to address her parents or friends prior to doing so. If she does, she sins, as she ascribes more importance to their honor than to God’s honor, for … Continue reading

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06. One May Not Work or Travel Before Prayer

As we have learned, a woman who is about to pray Shaĥarit must le-khatĥila follow the same laws as a man, and from the break of dawn she may not become involved in her work or do any traveling until … Continue reading

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07. Actions Permitted before Prayer

A woman may engage in mitzva acts before praying, for this is no affront to God’s honor since these acts are not done for one’s personal needs. Therefore, it is permissible and it is a mitzva to bathe and clothe … Continue reading

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08. Eating and Drinking Before Prayer

From the break of dawn, it is forbidden to eat or drink before praying. The Sages support their words (Berakhot 10b) on the verse (Vayikra 19:26), “Do not eat upon the blood,” which they interpret as, “Do not eat before … Continue reading

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09. Eating at Home if one will Pray at School

Girls who normally pray Shaĥarit in school and who will go hungry and will jeopardize their health or adversely affect their concentration on studies and prayers unless they eat and drink at home may do so. If a small meal … Continue reading

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10. When may a Married Woman Eat before Prayer?

Often, a woman must care for her children and cannot pray immediately after waking. Much time will pass before she finishes tending to her young, and if she does not drink coffee or tea, her mind will remain unsettled. This … Continue reading

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01. Netilat Yadayim

One who prays the Amida must cleanse herself; it is therefore a mitzva to wash one’s hands before prayer. However, there is a distinction between a situation in which she knows that her hands are sullied and the normal case … Continue reading

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02. Preparing One’s Body for the Amida

The Sages teach that one who needs to use the bathroom, be it to urinate or to defecate, may not pray (Berakhot 23a). There are two reasons for this: 1. The need for relief is likely to disrupt one’s kavana … Continue reading

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03. One Who Must Relieve Herself While Praying

There are two levels of need: 1) a need so pressing that the person praying estimates that it is impossible to wait even the amount of time it takes to walk a parsa (approximately 72 minutes); 2) a need to … Continue reading

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04. One who Needs to Relieve Herself in the Middle of the Amida

If one began praying when she had no need to relieve herself but a great need arose in the middle of her prayer, since she began praying in a permitted state, she may continue her prayer for as long as … Continue reading

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05. The Status of One Who Needs to Relieve Herself vis-à-vis Other Sacred Matters

Just as one who needs to relieve herself and cannot wait 72 minutes is forbidden to pray, so too she may not recite berakhot, say Shema, or study Torah, for it is not proper to engage in sacred matters when … Continue reading

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06. One Who Is Drunk or Tipsy

One must be clearheaded when she prays. Unlike many idol worshipers, who perform their rituals using drugs and alcohol to attain a state of ecstasy, our petitions to God are achieved through seriousness and deep thought. That is why the … Continue reading

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07. The Status of a Nida

A nida (a woman who has menstruated and not yet purified herself by going to the mikveh) is obligated to recite all the berakhot and prayers and may study Torah, for words of Torah cannot become impure, as it is … Continue reading

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01. Mental Preparation

The Sages teach (Berakhot 31a; SA 93:2), “One should not stand to pray while in a state of sadness or ennui.” Prayer elevates people. Therefore, one must approach prayer out of happiness, knowing that she is about to be uplifted … Continue reading

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02. Preventing Possible Disruptions in Prayer

While reciting the Amida, one may not hold an object that she fears will fall, such as a book, bowl, or knife, because her concern that it may drop will disrupt her kavana (SA 96:1). However, one may hold a … Continue reading

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03. Appropriate Attire for Prayer

One must prepare herself for prayer, revere God’s majesty and glory, and rejoice at the opportunity to stand before the King of kings in prayer. This preparation should also be apparent in her dress; one’s clothes should be respectable, fitting … Continue reading

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04. Attire Fit for Prayer

Although le-khatĥila one must wear respectable clothing for prayer, when it is difficult to change one’s clothes, it is permissible to pray in everyday clothing, as long as they are not undignified. Therefore, a woman who is engaged in household … Continue reading

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05. Head Covering for Men

In order to assess whether women are required to cover their heads when praying or reciting berakhot, we must first clarify the law regarding men. Originally, a few eminent sages practiced the extra pious custom of not walking four amot … Continue reading

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06. Head Covering for Women

Women do not customarily cover their heads in order to arouse fear of heaven within themselves. As a matter of tzni’ut, married women must cover their hair, but single women, who are not required to cover their hair for reasons … Continue reading

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07. Wearing a Belt

A man may not recite sacred words (devarim she-bikdusha) while there is no separation between his heart and his erva (nakedness). Thus, one wearing a long cloak or robe without underwear who wishes to recite sacred words must wear a … Continue reading

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01. The Place of Prayer

The Sages instituted that men pray with a minyan and in a synagogue, but they did not institute that women pray with a minyan. Clearly there is value in praying with a minyan in a synagogue for women as well, … Continue reading

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02. Establishing a Regular Place to Pray

It is a mitzva to designate a permanent place for prayer. This is what the patriarch Avraham did, as it is written: “Avraham woke up early in the morning [to go] to the place where he had stood (amad) before … Continue reading

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03. Praying next to a Wall

Ideally there should be no barrier between one praying the Amida and the wall, so that nothing distracts her from prayer. Permanent furniture standing against the wall, such as a closed cupboard, is not considered a barrier since it does … Continue reading

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