Is there a tznius (or any other) issue with women saying blessings and/or prayers aloud in the presence of unrelated men? I remember hearing that certain inyonim (perhaps kol isha?) do not apply if the woman is singing/chanting a holy text, since this this is not inherently arousing.

However, it seems that there are still some issues, since after all we don't let women leyn or daven in front of a congregation. Would these issues also apply to saying a personal prayer, such as a blessing, out loud when men are nearby? In view of the assumed preferability of saying some prayers aloud, what should she do?

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    As I understand it, the reason women don't get aliyot, leyn or become chazzaniot (Orthodox, that is) is due to kavod hatzibbur - "honor of the congregation". I'm unfamiliar with how or why this concept originated and the extent of where this concept applies. I think you are correct that kol isha is not a concern in this circumstance. I recall asking a related MY question about girls in my shul "laining" their Bat Mitzvah in front of men, and Kol Isha was not the issue. I'll try to find it. Happy Pesach.
    – DanF
    Apr 22, 2016 at 2:21
  • I found it. See related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/38840/5275. Apparently, according to women laining in front of men is NOT a concern for Kol Isha according to many opinions. It may or may not be a problem of kavod hatzibbur. Regardless, I have not seen women lain in an Orthodox congregation.
    – DanF
    Apr 22, 2016 at 2:28
  • @DanF, Yes, this is exactly what I had heard. I would assume a woman's reciting blessings individually is not an issue of kavod hatzibbur, but there may be separate issues, such as a related mitzvah about bringing shame to your family (I forget the name), and modesty in general.
    – SAH
    Apr 22, 2016 at 2:44
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    @DanF I once heard a nice explanation for the Kavod Hatzibur issue. Since Men are obligated in Talmud Torah and therefore reading the Torah in Shul, it would be a Bizuy, degradation, for men who are obligated to have someone not obligated read in their place. It would be a horror for someone to defer their obligation. It would be also tantamount to saying that none of the men who are obligated are capable of fulfilling their obligation. This issue is not really an issue about the woman per se. It is more about the men. This is an interesting way to look at Kavod Hatzibur.
    – RCW
    Apr 22, 2016 at 16:06
  • @RCW Thanks for the interesting angle on this. One part of what you said, though, may not exactly correlate. The mitzvah of congregational Torah reading I don't think equals the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. The history and reason for it is a somewhat more involved than that. IIRC, it began with "hakhel", and clearly, there, women were obligated to join in. Thus, there actually MIGHT be a current "obligation" for women to attend cong, Torah readings, even though, we don't really see this being done as much. Happy Pesach.
    – DanF
    Apr 22, 2016 at 16:15

1 Answer 1


I found this:

משנה. מי שהיה עבד או אשה או קטן מקרין אותו – עונה אחריהן מה שהן אומרין, ותבא לו מאירה. אם היה גדול מקרא אותו – עונה אחריו הללויה, מקום שנהגו לכפול – יכפול, לפשוט – יפשוט, לברך – יברך, הכל כמנהג המדינה.

One who has a slave, a woman, or a minor read [the Hallel] to him, he must repeat after them what they say, and a curse be upon him. If an adult recited to him, he repeats after him [only] Halleluyah. In a place where the custom is to repeat [verses], he should repeat; [Where the custom is] to say them only once, he should say them once. [Where the custom is] to recite a blessing afterwards, he should recite the blessing afterwards. Everything is dependent on local custom.

(Sukkah 38a, text and translation from here)

Therefore, it appears--at least according to the Mishnah--that a woman may recite a prayer in front of a man.

Note that this mishnah does not specify that she must be his wife, although the following gemara does in its discussion of Birkat Hamazon.

The sefer Rigshei Lev (HaRav Menachem Nissel) recapitulates, "On days when a woman is exempt from the obligation to recite Hallel, a man may not fulfill his obligation by listening to a woman's recitation and responding with Amen. [...] (Of course, he may fulfill his obligation by repeating word for word after her.)" (p. 164)

  • Though it does (on face value) say that if she does lead he will be cursed...
    – Double AA
    Apr 28, 2016 at 15:36
  • @DoubleAA Indeed--but if it were an outright prohibition, I am sure the language would be different. The discussions of this mishnah I've read all seem to interpret that he is "cursed" because he shouldn't have to rely on a slave/woman/minor to say the Hallel, with no mention of tznius issues. If you can find an interpretation of this mishnah that mentions tznius, I'd be grateful to see it. I'm definitely willing to believe that it could be a factor
    – SAH
    Apr 28, 2016 at 15:39
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    If you have reason to think that the curse doesn't relate t Tzniut, or that there are circumstances when the curse wouldn't apply, you should edit to include that in your post. Right now it looks rather silly when something which the Mishna says gets you cursed is referred to you as permitted.
    – Double AA
    Apr 28, 2016 at 15:41

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