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This source says that women are not obliged to daven maariv but may do if they wish.

Although the Shulchan Aruch (108:7) allows one to recite a Tefilat Nedava in a certain case, Halacha Berura (22nd question on this page) writes that one should not do so, because nowadays we do not allow reciting a Tefilat Nedava unnecessarily.

If a woman’s maariv is Tefilat Nedava, it seems that it should not be said?

Even if it is not Tefilat Nedava, davenning is not a simple thing. Various kavonnos are needed. I will mention HaShem’s names many times. Since women are not obligated to daven, perhaps they should not. Do we have sources for this issue to help me CMLOR?

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No, they should daven by force! :) Why are you asking if they should do so voluntarily? –  avi Jan 14 '12 at 20:06
@avi Reworded the question because of your comment. Thank you. –  Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 14 '12 at 21:24
I don't have a source, but I think we can draw a distinction between a prayer that is established (where women are exempt on a technicality, but have the option like other mitzvos), and an additional prayer that is not a normal part of established prayers. –  YDK Jan 16 '12 at 5:15
related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16059/759 –  Double AA May 18 '12 at 19:22
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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Yalkut Yosef (106:1) says that a woman's primary obligation for tefillah is to daven Shacharit. He permits women to daven Mincha or Arvit if they're unable to daven Shacharit. If a woman wants to daven all three tefillot, she is permitted to as well.

He mentions that the reason for permitting this is that davening is asking Hashem for mercy (תפילה בקשת רחמים היא). It seems to me we are not concerned that saying a tefillat nedavah would be a beracha she'ainah tzricha or beracha l'vatellah, even though today when we don't allow someone to daven a tefillat nedavah (except where the halacha recommends it as a technique to avoid a safek about a mistake in tefillah).

Yalkut Yosef mentions (106:3) that most Ashkenazi women daven Shacharit and Mincha, but not Arvit (because they never took on the obligation of Arvit). The Mishnah Berurah (106 s.k. 4) also rules this way. They doesn't discuss whether Ashkenazi women are permitted to daven Arvit despite being patur, but I've seen generally Ashkenazim are more permissive of women making berachot that only men are obligated in than Sefaradim are, so lacking evidence to the contrary, I'd assume that Ashkenazim also allow women to daven Arvit, even though they generally don't.

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It is not a Nedavah; it is a Reshuth. There is a difference. What that difference is, I actually do not know well enough to articulate it.

I have also heard, in the name of RJB"S, that he felt both men and women ought to (how strong that "ought" is also unclear to me) Daven three times a day.

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One difference is that you don't need to add something new into the tefillah like you would have to for a Tefillat Nedavah. –  Double AA Jul 8 '12 at 5:04
related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/16059/759 –  Double AA Aug 27 '12 at 16:00
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