In Orthodox practice it is commonly thought that women are not obligated in T'fillah (parts of it anyway) due to its time-bound nature. However, what is a woman's obligation? Which prayers must she say and when must she say them? A list of some sort from a reputable source would be greatly appreciated.


3 Answers 3


Women are exempt from kriat shema, as it is a positive time bound commandment; however, it is proper for them to read the first verse in order to accept God's kingship daily (Shulchan Aruch 70:1).

The Shulchan Aruch in OC 106 says that women are obligated in tefilla - implying shmone esrei. The Magen Avraham there points out that he doesn't see many women praying all 3 tefillot. He attempts to justify the practice by saying that the obligation of the women is to say a short prayer at some point once during the day. The Mishna Berura there, and many modern poskim (see Piskei Teshuvot there), all agree that the Magen Avraham's reasoning is a limmud zechut, and that women should attempt to daven the full shemone esrei. (Rav Chaim Brisk is quoted (Nefesh Harav p. 103) as saying that the words of the Magen Avraham are תמוהים מאד וכשגגה היוצא מפי השליט.)

The Mishna Berura there points out that since maariv is a reshut, just that men have accepted it upon themselves as an obligation, it's possible that women never accepted it upon themselves. As such, women may need to daven maariv only as a reshut. Not all poskim agree with the Mishna Brurah's distinction (eg. Aruch HaShulchan there and Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik).

In terms of birkot kriat shema, women should be patur as they have no need to say shema, but as ashkenaziyot can say brachot they are exempt from, it might be a good idea to say at least the last bracha to create semichat geulah letfillah.

Pesukei dizimra seems to be an introduction to shmoneh esrei, and it seems women should be equally obligated (Mishna Berurah 70:2 quoting Rebbe Akiva Eiger).

  • 1
    "Women are without a doubt patur from kriat shema": I seem to recall (no source at hand) that some maintain that they are obligated in z'chiras y'tzias Mitzrayim.
    – msh210
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 16:14
  • 2
    from the article I linked to in my answer: "The Alter Rebbe (70:1) writes that P'sukei d'zimra is optional for women. The Mishna Brura (70:2) argues that since P'sukei d'zimra were instituted as a preface to Shmona Esrei, which women are required to say, they should also be obligated in P'sukei d'zimra."
    – Menachem
    Commented Dec 1, 2011 at 17:18
  • related vbm-torah.org/vtc/0062507.html
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 21:52
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    Do you have a source for your second to last paragraph? I would think it would be problematic to pick just one Bracha out like that, especially if they aren't saying the whole Shema. They can say a Bracha like a man, but they have to do the Mitzvah like a man as well.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 18, 2014 at 17:00
  • 1
    @Yishai In terms of what? Each bracha is its own mitzva. Consider OC 60:2-3. Consider also 66:10 though I recommend reading the original source for that inside (the Girsa in the Mosad HaRav Kook version is clearer IMO) as it is very likely the Magen Avraham misunderstood the Rama there.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 19, 2014 at 3:12

This article - from Issues in Practical Halacha Issue Number 18 --- Lag B'Omer 5755 Compiled and Published by Kollel Menachem - Lubavitch (Melbourne, Australia) - Women's Obligations in Tefillah and Blessings (archived version here), goes through the different parts of prayer and discusses what the woman's obligations in each of those prayers are. It brings many different opinions and the sources for each of them.

The foundation of the article is that women are not obligated to perform time-bound mitzvot, but are obligated to perform mitzvot that are not bound by time. With that in mind, the article goes through the prayers of the day and lets us know whether women are obligated in those specific prayers.

Found another list here as well.

  • @Lee: I found another link and added a short summary. It would not be practical to summarize the article, since it itself is a summary of all the halachot.
    – Menachem
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 15:54


Having now read a sefer on this topic, I would edit my answer a bit--mostly just to say "It's complicated," but also to solidify these points:

Technically, halacha follows the Ramban that women should daven the Amidah twice a day. BUT:

1) A woman who is engaged in childcare--though not other forms of business, no matter how worthwhile--can become exempt from literally all davening, insofar as the time would otherwise be spent on childcare. (This includes morning brachos; I would imagine it does not include brachos on food, etc.)

2) I was told by a reasonably trustworthy authority that there has never been a community in which women actually davened twice a day. I don't know if this was based on the fact that women with children are allowed to daven less, or that no community has ever actually followed the rule as written; it sounded like the latter. According to him, there is thus in some sense permission for women to daven less than twice a day.

Women who daven shacharis are subject to more lenient restrictions than men re: eating and doing other tasks before prayer. Women are also subject to more leniency with regards to z'manim and (especially) shul attendance. This is true for all women, including those without children. As far as I understand, shul/minyan attendance during davening is literally never required of women. (That said, she may have to go to shul for other reasons, such as to hear the Megillah, which is indeed required.)

There are very few prayers required of women apart from the Amidah(s). Women are supposed to say "Shema Yisroel" once a day in order to accept upon themselves the Yoke of Heaven. Apart from a few prayers--especially holiday prayers--in which it is customary for women to participate, that's pretty much it.

Not so important, but interesting: For some reason, the brachos following the Shema, particularly the first, are considered even more important than the full Shema for women. If praying before halachic midday, she is supposed to say as much of the Shema as she has time for (for example, one paragraph [!]) and then the first bracha following the Shema. (I wonder if this has anything to do with the importance of saying the word "Emes" after kriyas Shema; it's just a theory...)

Yom Kippur Ne'ilah and Vidui, and Mussaf of Yom Tov (especially of Rosh Hashanah) were pointed out as being especially important for women to daven. I can't remember if this was given as halacha or just a "strong" custom. In any case, even these requirements do not apply to women who are busy with childcare.

Source: Rigshei Lev, Rabbi Menachem Nissel, 2001

Original answer:

I have heard everything from "women's prayer obligation is fulfilled by saying the morning brachos" to "women must daven shacharit, minchah, and maariv on schedule every day." The most common opinion I have encountered, however, seems to be that women should daven a minimum of once a day in addition to brachos.

(I hesitate to say this, because I don't remember the source, but it is possible that women don't have to follow the z'manim, but can daven when they please.)

If following the z'manim, many women prefer to daven shacharis and/or minchah. Minchah supposedly has a special relevance for women. It is common to find women who daven minchah only, and/or shacharis and minchah, daily. Maariv is the service least commonly davened by women, although there are women who pray it every day.

As for what they should daven, I was taught by Chabad that this is the minimum daily davening for women:

  • Hareini (the AriZal said everyone should initiate davening by saying "“Hareini mekabel alai mitzvas asei shel ve-ahavta le-re’akha kamokha - Behold, I accept upon myself the positive commandment to ‘love your fellow Jew as yourself.’ (Leviticus 19:18).”[1]" These days, I don't know of anyone who does it other than Chabad, but I am not an expert.)
  • Korbanot: Tamid (continual) offering only (a Chareidi [litvish] dayan I talked to suggested that ketoret be said, too)
  • Shema Yisroel
  • Amidah
  • Ach Tzadikim

It is recommended to add more parts of the service as time and learning permit.

Non-Obligatory Davening

Whether or not it is technically required, women generally say the bedtime Shema.

I learned we are supposed to say "Shema Yisroel" at least three times a day -- upon waking, at night, and once in between -- although this is not a halachic requirement. (I doubt it's minhag yisroel, either--minhag beis Yaakov?--but it might be.)

Daily tehillim (such as the chapter for your age) are encouraged and said by many women.

There are some traditional prayers that women say for holidays, Shabbos, erev and motzoei Shabbos/chag, and Rosh Chodesh.

There is a custom for women to say the entire Tehillim on Shabbos Mvor'chim. Update: Not sure how widespread this is or if it is primarily Chasidic. I know that in Chabad, everyone including the men [tries] to say all of Tehillim on Shabbot M'vor'chim, and that elsewhere it is a custom among women, but don't know where.

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