There is a commonly held "tradition" that Rashi's daughters wore Tefillin.

One highly educated rabbi/professor has publicly stated that he's spent 35 years searching for a source but to no avail.

Long shot: Does anyone here have a source for this?


As part of the extensive research behind my RASHI'S DAUGHTERS, no subject intrigued me more than the elusive [and ubiquitous] legend that they wore tefillin. Indeed, when I first started studying Talmud and was introduced to Rashi, I was told that legend held that they were learned and wore tefillin. I actually tracked the earliest mention of this back to the 18th century, but there was no evidence provided.

Ari Zivotofsky is entirely correct that to this day there is no hard proof that Rashi's daughters wore tefillin. However, there is evidence [Machzor Vitry, Avraham Grossman, Elisheva Baumgarten, and others] that a few women did wear tefillin in 11th-12th century Ashkenaz, just as some women wore tzitzit, blew the shofar, performed circumcisions, and had aliyah to the Torah in Rashi's community. Thus one might argue that if any woman was going to wear tefillin in that time, surely it would have been one of Rashi's daughters. As far as I'm concerned, the answer to the question "did Rashi's daughters" wear tefillin is 'maybe.'

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    Maggie Anton, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing the benefits of your research with the community! I hope you'll look around and find more material here of interest to you, perhaps including our 16 questions to date that are about both women and history. Note that I removed your signature from this answer in accordance with network policy. You're welcome to include more information about yourself and your work in your profile. – Isaac Moses Apr 15 '13 at 19:28
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    Hi Maggie! Can you edit in exactly where in Machzor Vitri or other similar works one can find references to the practices you mention? Thanks – Double AA Apr 15 '13 at 19:40
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    In addition to @DoubleAA's request, I'd like some substantiation of the claim that women in Rashi's time did those other activities. Back it up, and I'll likely accept this as the best answer (so far). – Seth J Jun 6 '14 at 20:03

According to this article by Rabbi Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky (published in the Orthodox Union's Jewish Action Journal, Summer 2011), such a source does not exist. Apparently, this idea appeared in the late 20th century, and never before then.

  • Incidentally this article cites the same Rabbi cited in the question, albeit a fuller treatment. – Yirmeyahu Apr 10 '13 at 16:01
  • @Yirmeyahu, are you sure? They both appear to be science professors at Bar Ilan University with similar first names, but the first rabbi sited was named Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer while the second was named Rabbi Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky – Daniel Apr 10 '13 at 16:15
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    see footnote #7, still a good answer though. – Yirmeyahu Apr 10 '13 at 16:16
  • @Yirmeyahu, ah I see what you mean. I suppose it makes sense since they must know each other. – Daniel Apr 10 '13 at 16:18
  • FTR both of them have Semicha and Doctorates. – Double AA Apr 10 '13 at 17:47

Rashi in Rosh Hashanah 33a holds that women may not perform mitzvot in which they are not obligated because of "bal tosif."

ד"ה הא נשים מעכבין. דפטורות לגמרי דמצות עשה שהזמן גרמא הוא וכי תקעי איכא בל תוסיף

Although Rashi's opinion rejected by most Rishonim, it does seem to make the story that his daughters wore tefillin more unlikely. (Tosafot in Eiruvin 96a quoting the Ri, Rashi's great-grandson, argue with Rashi.)

  • Great find, but how do you know that's Rashi's opinion and not his explanation of the Havah Aminah? – Seth J Apr 15 '13 at 21:04
  • It isn't a hava amina, but it does depend on whether נשים סומכות רשות, which is a מחלוקת תנאים. – wfb Apr 15 '13 at 21:13
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    Rashi's grandson, Rabbeinu Tam, says they can say brachot on those mitzvot. Perhaps he ruled this way for his mother. – Double AA Apr 15 '13 at 21:56
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    If you assume she wore Rabbenu Tam tefillin – wfb Apr 15 '13 at 23:49

this is not likely as Rashi held that time bound mitzvas in which women are not obligated they are also not permitted to fulfill also.

this is a rumor which, I opine based on how it has always been used, was created to give credit to changes made by the haskalla but has no source in anything valuable

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    This answer just restates the conclusion of a previous answer with less justification. Overall not helpful to anyone at all. – Double AA Nov 5 '15 at 19:40

I believe the rumor started only in the 20th century because of the classic teachings of Prof. Nechama Leibowitz. She was a teachers teacher and won the Israel Prize in Education. She was a world wide authority on Bible teaching in General and Rashi in particular. I met her in 1970 and was her student for 15 years. At that time I heard rumors that she put on Tefilin every day. I have no idea or proof that she did. But I think it is far from a coincidence that the rumors about Rashi's Daughters started about the same time.

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    Sound like a coincidence to me. – Double AA Oct 17 '13 at 20:00

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