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Women and Prayer

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Topic: Prayer, Women's Obligation

Irina from Chicago, Illinois wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Hello. I am kind of (or very) confused about the laws of Jewish women and prayers. What are the obligations for every day? Are women obligated to say the "shema" (all three paragraphs? Twice a day)? And how many times are they obligated to say shmoneh esreh? And what are the time limits? Thank you very much.

Dear Irina,

Most halachic authorities maintain that a woman is obligated to recite the morning (shacharit) and afternoon (min- chah) shmoneh esreh (silent amidah prayer) every day. If she has additional time she should recite the following, listed in order of priority: (Note that they are always said in the order printed in the siddur.)

  • First verse of shema, together with baruch shem kevod malchuto l'olam va'ed.
  • Emet veyatziv (the blessing after shema leading into shemoneh esreh)
  • Baruch she'amar, ashrei, yishtabach Birkot hashachar (morning blessings starting from "ha'no-tain la'sechvi..." and ending with "hagomel chasadim tovim l'amo Yisrael")
  • Birkot haTorah (blessings on Torah study)
  • The two blessings preceding shema
  • The entire shema
  • The entire p'sukei d'zimrah

A woman who has very minimal time because of child care or other obligations and can't spare even the short time for shmoneh esreh, must nonetheless fulfill the obligation to offer some form of prayer every day. This prayer must include the following three elements: Praise to G-d followed by a per- sonal request, and then words of thanks to G-d. Since birkot hashachar and birkot haTorah contain these elements, a woman in the above situation should therefore recite birkot hashachar and birkot haTorah.

The time limits for a woman are the same as for a man. So for example, the morning shmoneh esreh should ideally be prayed within the first third of the daylight hours, or at the very latest before midday.


  • Halichos Bas Yisrael by Rabbi Yitzchok Yaakov Fuchs, ch. 2

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