Friday, January 22, 2010

Maariv and Women: A tweet from a shiva house

Was in a shiva house this evening. About twenty women in the next room. Not one participated in maariv. Why?

I tweeted the line above last night. Afterwards, some tried to provide an explanation, but I don't think anyone really succeeded.

Some additional points:

* These women were all yeshivish or chasidish. They can all read Hebrew, and know what maariv is.
* Many of these women are the sort of women who get together to say tehillim. Why wouldn't the same kind of women join a minyan?
* I bet some of these women also put stock in segulot. The Jewish belief is that prayers said communally are more likely to be answered. If so, why doesn't participating in a minyan trump any segulah?
* I'm aware that women have no requirement to pray maariv according to normative Jewish law (though some rishonim obligated them to pray three times every day.) I'm not sure why this is relevant. Since when does Judaism teach that extras are unecessary, and that doing what's required is sufficient? Men, certainly, are expected to perform extras. (In fact, some things that once were optional (maariv, psuka d'zimra, hats) are now considered obligatory for men.) Why are women not only excused from the extras, but discouraged from performing them?

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