Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: When a Woman Should Daven Ma'ariv

Generally speaking, women do not daven ma'ariv.  Many women do, however, regularly daven mincha.  Halichos Shlomo (chapter 13, halacha 8) says that such a woman who misses a mincha because of circumstances (ie, not simply because she decided to forego mincha for no good reason) is obligated to daven ma'ariv that night in order to daven a tashlumin (make up) t'fila afterwards.  Understanding this p'sak will bring more clarity to the concept of conditional exemptions.

First, though, what's tashlumin?  The idea is that since t'fila is so very important, Chazal gave us a chance to make up for missed t'filos.  If a person misses a t'fila (ie, sh'mone esrei), he has an opportunity immediately after the next obligatory t'fila to daven a make up t'fila.  This can only be done at the next obligatory prayer service, not before and not later.  There are all sorts of cool halachos for tashlumin, but that is for another time.  For now, the important thing to note is that our lady who missed her regular mincha needs to daven her tashlumin at ma'ariv, not the next shacharis.  At first glance, that seems odd, since she never davens ma'ariv; she is exempt!

Let's examine her exemption.  One might think that this is regular case of a woman's exemption from all positive time-bound mitzvos.  The Ramban, however, says that the prayer services are d'rabanan and that Chazal instituted prayer services equally for men and women.  Shacharis and mincha correspond to the morning and afternoon daily offering in the Beis HaMikdash and so are obligatory.  Ma'ariv corresponds to the burning of certain leftovers; since those leftovers didn't accrue every day, Chazal left ma'ariv as "r'shus".  R'shus does not mean optional, however.  Rather, it means that if there are other obligations, then one is exempt from ma'ariv.  Men at some point accepted ma'ariv as an obligation, but women never did.

Now we can understand the p'sak of the Halichos Shlomo.  Women are obligated in ma'ariv, but other factors (notably the demands of child rearing, among others) allow them to skip.  However, if a woman (who usually davens mincha) misses mincha, she now has another reason to daven ma'ariv.  Namely, to be able to daven a tashlumin.  That's the difference between conditionally and unconditionally exempt.  When the exemption depends on other factors, then then the when the situation changes, the exemption may fall away; as it does in this case.

This is yet another reason that you need a rav.  Halacha is not a dry, static list of rules.  Halacha (as its name implies, "the way") depends on the person, his (or her) circumstances, the community, etc.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…