THis is a follow-up question to the long-forgotten "why-are-women-exempt..." (2011).

What is the meaning of the word Patur (exempt) here - does it mean like דחויה or הותרה?

  • Were they obligated on Mt Sinai and then G-d/Moses/Rabanan eased on them? Or...

  • Were they never commanded in the first place as those Mitzvot have no relevance to them? As we don't say "the Gentiles are exempt from the 613 Mitzvot" - they are not commanded in the first place. Or, am I Potur from the Miztvot of Kohanim or a King?

  • This seems to be a dup of judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/10540/… - You commented on the other question "I was gonna ask the same question, but you phrased it weirdly. Can I ask it differently without duplicating or edit your question?". IMHO you can't "ask it differently without duplicating" but in principle all questions can be edited. BTW, it seems that your question is answered in the accepted answer there. Women are patur from those mitzvos because they do not apply to them (equivalent to הותרה). Doesn't הותרה apply to laavim? Aug 31, 2018 at 11:09
  • @You didn't understand the question. I asked not about the fact of the Ptur but about the way to exempt - nobody touches that in the cited question.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 31, 2018 at 14:03
  • @AvrohomYitzchok הותרה means it does not apply in the first place, דחויה means it is "postponed"
    – Al Berko
    Sep 1, 2018 at 19:51
  • 2
    @AvrohomYitzchok It does not seem to be a duplicate. The other question was asking for the "ta'amei hamitzva"; this one is asking for the "lomdus" by which it works.
    – Alex
    Sep 2, 2018 at 1:43
  • As you can see, I didn't vote to close and that's good in the light of the comments from Alex and Al Berko. Sep 2, 2018 at 9:10

2 Answers 2


The rule that women are exempt from time-bound positive mitzvot is derived by the Talmud in Kiddushin 34a:

ומצות עשה שהזמן גרמא נשים פטורות: מנלן גמר מתפילין מה תפילין נשים פטורות אף כל מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא נשים פטורות ותפילין גמר לה מתלמוד תורה מה תלמוד תורה נשים פטורות אף תפילין נשים פטורות

AND AFFIRMATIVE PRECEPTS LIMITED TO TIME, WOMEN ARE EXEMPT. Whence do we know it? — It is learned from phylacteries: just as women are exempt from phylacteries, so are they exempt from all affirmative precepts limited to time. Phylacteries [themselves] are derived from the study of the Torah: just as women are exempt from the study of the Torah, so are they exempt from phylacteries. (Soncino translation)

The rule that women are exempt from Torah study is in turn derived in Kiddushin 29b:

איהי מנלן דלא מיחייבא דכתיב ולימדתם ולמדתם כל שמצווה ללמוד מצווה ללמד וכל שאינו מצווה ללמוד אינו מצווה ללמד ואיהי מנלן דלא מיחייבה למילף נפשה דכתיב ולימדתם ולמדתם כל שאחרים מצווין ללמדו מצווה ללמד את עצמו וכל שאין אחרים מצווין ללמדו אין מצווה ללמד את עצמו ומנין שאין אחרים מצווין ללמדה דאמר קרא ולמדתם אותם את בניכם ולא בנותיכם

How do we know that she [the mother] has no duty [to teach her children]? — Because it is written, we-limaddetem [and ye shall teach], [which also reads] u-lemadetem [and ye shall study]: [hence] whoever is commanded to study, is commanded to teach; whoever is not commanded to study, is not commanded to teach. And how do we know that she is not bound to teach herself? — Because it is written, we-limaddetem [and ye shall teach] — u-lema — detem [and ye shall learn]: the one whom others are commanded to teach is commanded to teach oneself; and the one whom others are not commanded to teach, is not commanded to teach oneself. How then do we know that others are not commanded to teach her? — Because it is written: ‘And ye shall teach them your sons’ — but not your daughters. (Soncino translation)

Thus, the exemption for time-bound positive mitzvot ultimately leads back to the fact that the commandment of Torah study was never given to women in the first place – the Torah says to teach your sons, but not your daughters.

It stands to reason, then, that the exemption for time-bound positive commandments is the same. That is to say, that just like the commandment of Torah study was never given to them in the first place, the commandments of tefillin, tzitzit, etc. were never given to them in the first place.

  • 1. I bolded the conclusion. 2. I know the Gemorah well but I fail to see the necessity of your conclusion. It definitely looks that the conclusion IS yours. Moreover, the Gm says it IS a Rabbinic LIMUD, it is not explicit in the text, and the Limud is extremely distant - one is derived from another with no explanation or connection at all.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 1, 2018 at 19:44
  • 3. To continue my last point - why the word Patur is used where ther was no commandmend in the first place. Am I Potur from Kohanim's Mitzvos cause I'm not commanded at all? I have true difficulty understanding the use of the term Patur then.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 1, 2018 at 19:46
  • @AlBerko I don't claim my conclusion is a necessity. I merely point out that if the exemption is derived from comparing to other mitzvot then it stands to reason that the have the same status. If the original source mitzva is one that was never commanded, then we are in effect saying that just like women were not commanded for that they are also not commanded for this.
    – Alex
    Sep 2, 2018 at 1:47
  • You can delete the [unneeded] citations and leave the last 2 paragraphs and see if it answers the question. Wow, it turned out to be much harder than I thought!
    – Al Berko
    Sep 2, 2018 at 11:57
  • @AlBerko How are the citations unneeded? My entire answer is based off of them.
    – Alex
    Sep 2, 2018 at 12:54

I write this answer as I've researched that hard. I didn't find anyone explaining the concept of Ptur, but I did come up with a conclusion of my own, based on Gemmorah's and other sources:

  1. The Pshat of the term Patur implies that there was an original obligation that was canceled or postponed (that's my starting point, not a conclusion).

  2. A woman that keeps Succot (and Lulav and Teffilin etc) - earns a reward as אינה מצווה ועושה. Same pattern we see with a Goy that learned Torah (B"K 38a).

  3. But a woman that wobbles Lulav on Pesach does not, and we don't say אינה מצווה ועושה. Same with an Israel saying Birkat Kohanim or a Goy that makes the Shabbos Kiddush. But why, as technically all those fit that definition?

  4. Seemingly we have two types of אינו מצווה ועושה, I would say the emphasize on עושה - one that does something (a Tikkun) and one that does nothing. For one to be עושה, one has to be originally commanded or related but he was eventually eased upon (דחויה), but for one who does nothing - he was never commanded (could not be commanded in principle - הותרה).

  5. The Gemmorah in B"M 38a bring brings a Passuk ("ראה ויתר גויים"), from which it infers that Hashem withdrew the Mitzvot (and Mamon) from Goyim before commanding Israel on Mt Sinai.

  6. That explains why the Goyim earn a reward for keeping some Mitzvot they are not currently commanded (as honoring parents for Dama Ben Netina, Kiddushin 30 or learning Torah in general) - they were commanded but they were eventually released.
    That, in contrary to Mitzvot they were never commanded and could not be commanded as Israeli, as Remembering the Exodus, making Kiddush on Shabbos, wearing Teffilin and more.

  7. Therefore I conclude that women, displaying the same Halachic pattern of אינה מצווה ועושה, can be rewarded for the 7 time-related Mitzvos because they were initially commanded/related on Mt. Sinai, but were exempt or released later (maybe even on the same standing), but anyway, the impression of the Mitzvah stayed forever, otherwise they would do nothing.

  • See Ramban Kiddushin 31a: ואי קשיא והא אמרינן בירושלמי כל העושה דבר שאינו מצווה בו נקרא הדיוט התם שעושה דבר שאינו מצווה מן התורה כלל שהוא כמוסיף על התורה אבל מי שעושה מצוות התורה כתקנן אע"פ שלא נצטוה הוא בהם כגון נשים וגוים מקבלים עליהם שכר שכל דרכיה דרכי נועם וכל נתיבותיה שלום והכי מסתברא מדאמרינן אין מעכבין את הנשים מלתקוע בי"ט ואע"פ שיש בתקיעה שלא לצורך איסור שבות ש"מ צורך מצוה היא לפיכך אם רצו לברך אין למחות בידן ואם תאמר היכן צונו כדאקשינן לענין נר חנוכה כיון דרשות דמצוה הוא והקב"ה צוה במצוה זו לאנשים חובה לנשים רשות צונו קרינא ביה זהו דעת ר"ת ז"ל
    – Alex
    Sep 3, 2018 at 20:00
  • How does patur imply originally chayiv? I don't understand #2. אינו מצווה ועושה implies ועושה מצוה, so what's the question.
    – robev
    Sep 3, 2018 at 23:35
  • @Alex Thank you, I didn't see that Ramban, but it didn't add much. Ramban here only addresses those Mitzvot we already know are allowed for women to fulfill, hence the blessing. What would he say about #3? I think he'd agree. Therefore not all Mitzvot can be done by מי שאינו מצווה.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 4, 2018 at 12:24
  • @AlBerko I brought the Ramban to illustrate the idea that there is a difference between something which is not a mitzvah at all and something which is a mitzvah but just not for you.
    – Alex
    Sep 4, 2018 at 12:33
  • @Alex I didn't understand what you mean by "something which is not a mitzvah" in Ramban? So according to [your understanding of] Ramban Goy that blows Shofar gets a reward?
    – Al Berko
    Sep 4, 2018 at 12:36

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