The Mishnah in Kiddushin 1, 7 says:

"וְכָל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁהַזְּמָן גְּרָמָהּ, אֲנָשִׁים חַיָּבִין וְנָשִׁים פְּטוּרוֹת. "

And every positive commandment that is time-dependent, men are obligated and women are exempt.

I did my homework of listing all the time-related Mitzvot DeOraytah, based on Rambam's Sefer Hamitzvot (the full list is here), except for those Temple-related (for Cohanim only and women are exempt anyway):

  1. קרשמ"ע
  2. תפילין של ראש
  3. תפילין של יד
  4. ציצית
  5. הקהל
  6. עליה לרגל
  7. קרבן הרגל
  8. שמחה בחג
  9. להקריב קרבן פסח
  10. לאכול קרבן פסח
  11. וידוי מעשר שני
  12. שמיטת קרקע בשביעית
  13. שביתת שביעית
  14. שמיטת כספים השביעי
  15. שביתת יובל
  16. שופר של יובל
  17. לשבות בשבת
  18. לקדש שבת
  19. לבער חמץ בפסח
  20. סיפור יציאת מצרים
  21. לאכול מצה
  22. לשבות ביום ראשון של פסח
  23. לשבות בשביעי של פסח
  24. לספור עומר
  25. לשבות בשבועות
  26. לשבות בראש השנה
  27. להתענות ביום הכיפורים
  28. לשבות ביום הכיפורים
  29. לשבות בסוכות
  30. לשבות בשמחת תורה
  31. לשבת בסוכה
  32. לולב
  33. שופר

Only in 12 out of those 33 women are exempt:
Krishm"a, Teffilin of the head, Teffilin of the hand, Tzitzis, Succah, Lulav, Shofar, Shofar in Yovel, Omer, Aliyah Laregel, Chagiga, Viduy Maaser that's about a 1/3.

So, how/why would the Mishnah write such a rule that is explicitly far from the facts?

For the perplexed: Even if we take R'Yochanan's "אין למדים מן הכללות", according to Rambam's Pirush HaMishnayot (Kiddushin 1,7) he only says that this is not an exact rule, but even he holds the rule holds in general and does not fact-check it.


1 Answer 1


My own thoughts:

  1. Your list of the positive Mitzvot is formulated following Rambam's classification of the 613 Mitzvot. It is a possibility, that this Mishnah Counts the Mitzvot differently, and maybe even does not arrive at a total of 613.

  2. By grouping the positive Mitzvot, here's my more precise version of the rule:

Women are exempt from positive, time-bound Mitzvot, with the exception of:

  • Resting on Shabbat and 7 Yomim Tovim (8 Mitzvot from the list)
  • Kiddush on Shabbat (1)
  • Pesach (5)
  • Yom Kippur (1)
  • Hakhel (1)
  • Simchat Hachag (1)
  • Shemittah Veyovel (4)

And now we've significantly reduced the number exceptions from 21 to 7 (groups).

  1. As noted in a comment by DonielF, the rule is formulated this way because this is the default, not necessarily because it applied to the majority of time-bound mitzvot. The whole discussion starting on Kiddushin 33b takes as a given that women are exempt from this category of mitzvot. Any exception to the rule requires a Derashah to justify it.

  2. As noted by Heshy in a comment, 12 of your 21 exceptions (resting on Shabbat and festivals, fasting on Yom Kippur, destroying chametz, and not working the land in Shemittah or Yovel) are direct parallels to negative commandments, such that it would make little or no practical difference if women were not commanded in these - they would have to do (almost?) exactly the same thing due to the negative commandments involved. As such, it makes sense that the Mishnah would not take these into account when formulating its rule.

  • 1
    Even if the Mishnah does assume there aren't 613 mitzvos, the ones in this list are hard to dispute...
    – robev
    Sep 5, 2018 at 13:14
  • @robev I'm not sure I follow. The list from Rambam has 21 time-bound mitzvot that women are obligated in - my answer compressed them to 7. Do I need to make that clearer?
    – Joel K
    Sep 5, 2018 at 13:16
  • +1 for #1, how dare! Fascinating thought. I do have the impression that the counts are very late, and earlier Mishnayot are so general you can hardly correlate between them and what we hold Halachic today (after Rambam and Shua et al). See my question(s) about 248 body parts - same here!
    – Al Berko
    Sep 5, 2018 at 15:12
  • 1
    @JoelK that part is fine. My objection was the part about if there are 613 mitzvos. You just need to say how many mitzvos these topics comprise of is debatable.
    – robev
    Sep 5, 2018 at 15:21
  • #4 is probably the question to Rambam @ all about counting positive Mitzvot. Taking into consideration #1, it may be the case that the Tannoyim did not count those negative-related Mitzvot at all(?)!
    – Al Berko
    Sep 5, 2018 at 15:21

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