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When women daven (pray), even by ourselves, it is convention to daven with male-gendered words ("modeh" vs "moda" as one of many examples). Why is this; are there sources that say we should be doing otherwise? If so, when did this tradition get started?

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Please do not enter other people's body's when davening. It can be dangerous for your health as well as the male you are trying to daven in :) –  avi Jan 27 '12 at 14:13
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i believe the koren sacks ashenaz siddur as well as rinat yisrael haveoptions for modah and goya and shifcha.but i dont have one in front of me now. maybe someone cancheck to verify –  Double AA Jan 27 '12 at 17:19
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Because common practice is to use artscroll :) –  Double AA Jan 27 '12 at 19:11
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@ShmuelBrill Which Sephardi siddur? –  Double AA Jan 28 '12 at 23:41
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@DoubleAA: lots of sephardi siddurim say "Modah ani" for women. 6 of the 8 different brands of siddurim/machzorim that I own say a woman should say "modah" and all 8 have instructions to say "goyah" and "shifcha". (I think the two that don't say "modah" are probably an oversight on the part of their respective publishers.) –  Chanoch Jan 29 '12 at 15:23

3 Answers 3

The original siddur did not include a version for women. Changes to the format for women began later on. R. Jacob Emden (in his siddur commentary) suggested emending the morning blessings for women, but didn't recommend it. Chid"a (Avodat haKodesh 2 5 22) allowed the changes, along with Eshel Avraham (the Buchacher, OC 46 4) and Rivvos Efraim (1 37 2) quoting R. Chaim Kanievsky. Many siddurim have adopted this approach.

Opposing views include Siach Tefilla (10) Lubavicher Rebbe (Halacha uMinhag 1 50), citing the need to adhere to established custom, which never altered the service for women. Furthermore, it is well-known that the male gender is also the neutral gender in Biblical Hebrew, thus it includes both men and women.

We do find precedent for changing the service for women in Grace after Meals, see Rema (OC 187 3). But in that case, it is more than just a grammar issue.

More on this topic in the discussion at this link (Hebrew).

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Which Eshel Avraham is this? (Buczacz or PMG?) –  msh210 Jan 30 '12 at 17:41
    
I've linked to the page in Bes Yaakov that I assume you're referring to; otherwise, I apologize, and please correct (or remove) the link. –  msh210 Jan 30 '12 at 17:45
    
The Buchacher. Thanks for the linkiage. –  Barry Jan 30 '12 at 18:02
    
related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/13378/759 –  Double AA Jan 30 '12 at 18:14
    
@Barry I think you are citing the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the wrongly. As has been explained to me by several Rabbonim, and as it appears pretty clearly in the text you cited, he is not saying that their is a need to adhere to the unchanged established custom, rather he is answering what the Lubavitch Minhag is, and the answer is that one should follow the Minhag of their location. –  Efraim Jan 15 at 23:16

The Rinat Yisrael siddur (a very commonly used siddur in Israel) does indeed make grammatical changes for women. Modeh becomes modah, she lo asani eved becomes shifcha, etc.

Most of our prayers are worded in the plural ("we" are asking for something) or in the second person (from You, G-d - and YKVK is a masculine word, that's why it's atah, not at.)

However, the few times where there would be a grammatical difference for women; according to the publishers of Rinat Yisrael, women should say the blessings / prayers according to the rules of proper grammar.

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First off, there are many Siddurim that bring the differences. Secondly, the Hida tweaks the Tefila a little to fix this problem as well.

Can't find the Hida, but I know that Yalkut Yosef (1:1:1:3) says to say "moda ani."

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Do you have a source/reference in the Hid"a? –  Double AA Jan 29 '12 at 0:43
    
@DoubleAA I wish I did. –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 30 '12 at 1:17
    
@DoubleAA, Barry's answer does. –  msh210 Jan 30 '12 at 17:59

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