My eldest daughter’s birthday was erev Rosh Chodesh Av, making her bas mitzvah, and with that came the requirement to keep halacha as an adult. One of the challenges this presents is dealing with the bias against females keeping halacha meticulously. One example that immediately came up relates to hilchos tefilah. The Rambam’s opinion is that tefilah is a Biblical obligation, but the Torah does not impose a set time or text to fulfill the mitzvah – a minimal supplication is sufficient. On the other hand, the Ramban (and other Rishonim) hold that tefilah is a Rabbinic enactment and the same takanah, with all its details, which applies to men applies equally to women. Even according to the Rambam's view, many opine that once the text and time of tefilah was formalized, there is little difference between the obligation of women and men. Finally, it is also worth mentioning that according to some opinions even the Biblical obligation of tefiah cannot be fulfilled with any supplication, but requires a prayer which has components of shevach, bakasha, and hoda’ah like our shmoneh esrei.
I am not going to discuss popular psak here – I am speaking of my personal situation, and everyone has their own choices to make when it comes to how to keep halacha. The Ramban seems to be the view adopted by most Rishonim, and a good case can be made that even according to the Rambam’s view women are obligated in tefila the same way men are, which is why many achronim (R’ Chaim Brisker among them) hold that women should daven a full davening each morning. This is what I think my daughers should do (and it is what my wife does).
What should follow is that just like a man cannot eat before he fulfills his obligation to daven, a women may not eat before she fulfills her obligation to daven. Until her bas mitzvah, we sort of let my daughter do her own thing when it came to this area, but now we feel she should daven first and eat later.
Problem: while my son’s school has a breakfast time for the boys after davening, my daughter’s school does not. My daughter explained in camp that she was going to daven at home so she could eat breakfast, but this got no more than a begrudging OK. Same halacha for boys and girls, different attitude.
Have any of you faced this issue before and how have you dealt with it?
One other note: before anyone comments quoting me tshuvos that allow women to eat, let me just say that unless you are willing to defend such a position (and not just name drop), don’t bother. This psak you have in mind in very difficult to understand, and ask yourself this – would you be comfortable putting yourself into a situation where you l’chatchila relied on such a chiddush (where the tshuvah itself leaves off “tzarich iyun l’dina”), or would you strive to be yotzei without looking for hetereim? More on this to come bl”n…
UPDATE: My wife posted on the same topic from a slightly different angle; her thoughts here.