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I have heard that, according to the letter of the law, women only need to pray once a day (usually shachris). Some women add an additional prayer which is usually mincha.

If a woman desired to, could she pray three times just like men do: Shachris, Mincha and Maariv? Or is discouraged for women to pray Maariv?

marked as duplicate by Double AA Mar 25 '16 at 16:31

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There is no question that an Ashkenazi woman can pray maariv if she desires.

It has optional status according to many, R Melamed for instance writes

Women never took Maariv upon themselves. Therefore, Maariv retains the status of an optional prayer for women.

Since a woman needs to pray once a day at least, he later writes that

If a woman was unable to pray both Shacharit and Mincha she should nonetheless pray Maariv.

R Doniel Neustadt writes here

Note that all tefilos in which women may be exempt, such as the daily Ma'ariv [...] are still permitted to be davened by women. [However one should ask a rav for sefardic women] since some Sephardic poksim (e.g., Yechaveh Da'as 1:68; 3:3) rule that women are not allowed to daven certain parts of the davening from which they are exempt.

According to R Yosef Ber Soloveichik, maariv has obligatory status for women.

See also here for more sources.

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    You would do well to clarify what "optional" means, as I've met many who regularly misunderstand that term. "Optional" here (at least according to the vast majority of Rishonim, including Tosfot, Rif, Rosh/Tur (and possibly the Rambam) and seemingly the Beit Yosef who cites this and no dissenters) means that it can be pushed off in extenuating circumstances like being busy with another time-sensitive Mitzva, not that you can skip it willy-nilly. This is the ruling of the Mishna Berura (OC 107 sk 2, 237 sk 1). – Double AA Mar 25 '16 at 16:39
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    R Melamed cites no source for his claims in that article. Indeed, even if he is echoing some late Acharon's speculation, the claim is quite dubious, as no sources contemporary to the acceptance mention gender. (The Rambam writes "נהגו כל ישראל בכל מקומות מושבותיהם", the Rif "והאידנא נהוג עלמא לשוייה כחובה", the Rosh "והאידנא נהוג עלמא בתפלת ערבית מנהג חובה", and the ShA/Rama omit any details of the rules of the Reshut status because they aren't relevant anymore.) Of course, R Melamed's omission of any reference to those who obligate women in Maariv makes his article further suspect. – Double AA Mar 25 '16 at 17:16

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