15 Sivan 5760
Why are women obligated in adhering to zman tefila if it is a Mitzvas asei she’hazman grama? Can one say birchos kriyat shema if zman tefila already passed? I have heard various opinions regarding specifically what one can and cannot say after zman. Can you please clarify?
Thank you for your question. The Mishna in Berachos (3:2) states that “Women… are obligated in Tefillah, Mezuzah, and Birchas HaMazon”. There is a disagreement between the Rambam and the Ramban exactly what the nature of this obligation is. The Rambam maintains that daily prayer for everyone, men and women, is a Torah obligation, and the Rabbis decreed the format and times of the prayers. According to this, the actual Torah obligation is not a Mitzvas Assei SheHazman Gramma. Consequently, in his view, the obligation of women to pray only applies to the Torah obligation, to say a short prayer once a day, generally the morning blessings. However, the Ramban states that the entire obligation to pray is Rabbinic. The only Torah obligation that there would be is to pray when in distress. In his view the Rabbinic decree is equally applicable to men and women, and therefore holds that women would have to pray Shemoneh Esrei twice a day, morning and afternoon. (Maariv is a voluntary prayer. Although men have voluntarily accepted this as an obligation upon themselves, women never did so). According to this opinion, although Tefillah is a Mitzvah D’Rabbonon that is Zman Gramma, since both men and women need “Rachamei”- mercy, as stated in the Gemara there (Berachos 20b), in the opinion of the Ramban, our Chaza”l made it incumbent on women also.
Although a woman may say Krias Shema all day long, as this is a Mitzvas Asei SheHazman Gramma from which women are exempt, she should only say Birchas Krias Shema during the Zman Tefillah. The Mishna Berura explains that Birchos Krias Shema are not actually a Beracha on the Mitzvah of saying Krias Shema (i.e. we don’t say “Asher Kidshanu B’Mitzvosav V’Tzivanu Likros Shema”), rather it is part of the order of the Tefillah instituted by our Chaza”l leading up to Shemoneh Esrei. The name is actually misleading. Consequently, since Shacharis was instituted to correspond with the Tamid Shel Shachar, and can only be sacrificed until Chatzos, the latest Birchos Krias Shema and Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis may be said by a woman is until Chatzos. It is certainly preferable that they be said before the end of Zman Tefillah, which is after the first third of the day has past.