Halacha for Tuesday 14 Tevet 5781 December 29 2020

The Laws of Women Regarding Morning Blessings and Blessings of the Torah

Question: Must women recite the morning blessings?

Answer: Our Sages instituted that one should recite the morning blessings (the series of blessings printed in the beginning of all Siddurim) daily since these blessings were enacted based on the order of the world (for instance, the blessing of “Poke’ach Ivrim” is recited for one’s sense of sight). Since it is forbidden to benefit from this world without first reciting a blessing, one must recite these blessings every morning. The morning blessings are the blessings from “Elokai Neshama” until the blessing of “Gomel Chassadim Tovim Le’Amo Yisrael.” Following this, the blessings on the Torah are recited.

The Geonim write that women are obligated to recite the morning blessings, for they are not considered time-bound Mitzvot. This means that although women are exempt from positive, time-bound Mitzvot, such as taking a Lulav and the like, the morning blessings are not contingent on any particular time and thus, women are obligated to recite them.

The blessing of “Shelo Asani Isha” was instituted by our Sages because men must thank Hashem that He has given them the opportunity to fulfill most of the Mizvot of the Torah as opposed to women who are not obligated in all of the Mitzvot. Women, on the other hand, fulfill their purpose in life by performing the Mitzvot they are obligated to, such as Shabbat, blessings on various foods and scents, and the like. They should especially concentrate on the Mitzvot specific to women which are Niddah, Challah, and the lighting of Shabbat candles. Additionally, if a woman is married she should encourage her husband to study Torah for in this way, she connects her soul to the tremendous merit of Torah learning. Even if her husband slacks off in his Torah study, she still acquires the merit of Torah study. Also, if a woman has children, she should guide them on the path of Torah and Mitzvot.

This blessing is not, G-d forbid, meant as any form of discrimination against women, for according to our holy Torah a woman is very respected indeed. Our Sages have already commanded that a man must love his wife like himself and respect her more than himself. Furthermore, the chapter of “Eshet Chayil” which was composed in honor of the G-d-fearing woman is unparalleled in its praise of the woman. This that the Torah exempts women from certain Mitzvot that men are obligated in is for a reason  known only to Hashem and every person must accept Hashem’s will and fulfill his/her purpose in this world properly. Just like a Jewish man cannot complain about not having been born a Kohen or Levi and we would tell him to fulfill his role as a Yisrael as per Hashem’s decree, so too, for a woman to show any dissatisfaction with her role as a woman instead of being obligated in Mitzvot like a man, would be completely irrational, for this too was decided solely by Hashem. Indeed, most people who wish to equate women with men with regards to their obligation in various Mitzvot are not acting out of fear of Heaven and are doing so for ulterior motives and only serve to confuse themselves and others in their service of Hashem.

  Therefore, instead of reciting the blessing of “Shelo Asani Isha,” women should recite “Baruch She’asani Kirtzono” (Blessed is He Who has created me according to His will) without mentioning Hashem’s name in the blessing. However, regarding the blessings of “Shelo Asani Goy” and “Shelo Asani Aved,” women should in fact recite them with Hashem’s name, for regarding these blessings there is no difference between men and women. Nevertheless, they customarily substitute the word “Goya” with “Goy” and “Shifcha” for “Aved”, in the Hebrew feminine form.

The blessings of the Torah are not like the other morning blessings in that the morning blessings are not linked to any specific Mitzvah; rather, they are a praise offered to Hashem for the creation of the world. It is thus understandable why women are obligated to recite the morning blessings, for they are blessings of praise and not blessings for a Mitzvah. However, the blessings of the Torah are blessings that our Sages enacted over the Mitzvah of Torah learning. If this is the case and as we know, women are exempt from Torah study, would it not follow that women should not be reciting the blessings of the Torah; after all, the opinion of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch is that women may not recite a blessing on a Mitzvah that they are exempt from?

Nevertheless, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that even women recite the blessings of the Torah, for they are also obligated to study the laws of the Torah regarding the Mitzvot that they are obligated in, for instance, the laws of blessings, Shabbat, and the like. Thus, they may in fact recite the blessings of the Torah and they may even recite the words “Asher Kideshanu Be’Mitzvotav “Vetzivanu” Al Divrei Torah” (Who has sanctified us with his commandments “and commanded us” regarding words of Torah), for they are also commanded to study Torah in the aforementioned manner.

In the following Halacha we shall, G-d willing, discuss this matter further regarding the actual time for the morning blessings.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Question: May one eat bread without washing one’s hands if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and instead holds it with a napkin and like?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (107b) states: “The Sages permitted a cloth (i.e. they permitted eating bread without first washing one’s hands by wrapping one’s hands in a cloth) for those eating Terumah (meaning that during the time when the Bet Hamikdash still stood, befo......

Read Halacha

Salt on the Table

Question: Is there a halachic necessity to have salt placed on the table before reciting the Hamotzi blessing and is it necessary to observe this custom on weekdays as well? Answer: The Gemara (Berachot 40a) states: “Rava bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav Chiya: One may not recite the Hamo......

Read Halacha

Eating without First Washing One’s Hands

In the previous Halacha, we have explained that one may not be lenient and nullify the edict of washing one’s hands prior to eating bread; even if one does not touch the bread with one’s hands directly and merely holds it with gloves or a napkin, one may still not defy this edict. If one......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal

The Enactment of Washing One’s Hands for a Bread Meal There is a rabbinic enactment to wash one’s hands before sitting down to eat a bread meal. The Mishnah in Masechet Eduyot (Chapter 5) relates that Rabbi Eliezer ben Chanoch was excommunicated for having raised doubts about the necess......

Read Halacha


The “Asher Yatzar” Blessing vs. Birkat Hamazon

Question: In the previous Halacha, we have discussed if one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing on food and before he does so, he uses the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, one should recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing first and......

Read Halacha

Question: If one becomes obligated to recite an after-blessing after eating any food (for instance, by eating a Kezayit, approximately twenty-seven grams, of fruit) and before reciting the after-blessing, one used the facilities and becomes obligated to recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing, which blessing must one recite first: Should one first recite the “Asher Yatzar” blessing or the after-blessing on the food one ate?

Answer: This question has already been discussed by the Maharshal (Rabbeinu Shlomo Luria, one of the foremost Acharonim who lived approximately five-hundred years ago in Eastern Poland and authored the Sefer Yam Shel Shlomo and others) in his responsa (Chapter 97) and writes that if one becomes obli......

Read Halacha

A Power Outage on Shabbat

Question: Last Shabbat, there was a power outage and for six hours, we had no electricity. Later on in the day when the problem was repaired, the Plata (electric hotplate) turned back on. Is it permissible to eat the foods that were warmed on the hotplate? Answer: Regarding the aforementioned mat......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon in the Place One Has Eaten

Question: Is one obligated to recite Birkat Hamazon specifically where one has eaten bread or may one recite this blessing elsewhere? Answer: One who eats a bread meal must recite Birkat Hamazon in the place where one has eaten and one may not go to a different place and recite the blessing there......

Read Halacha