Status III: Positive Time-Bound Mitzvot

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(ז) אֶחָד אֲנָשִׁים וְאֶחָד נָשִׁים חַיָּבִין. וְכָל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁהַזְּמָן גְּרָמָהּ, אֲנָשִׁים חַיָּבִין וְנָשִׁים פְּטוּרוֹת. וְכָל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁלֹּא הַזְּמָן גְּרָמָהּ, אֶחָד אֲנָשִׁים וְאֶחָד נָשִׁים חַיָּבִין.

(7) And [with regard to] every positive commandment that is time-dependent, men are obligated and women are exempt. And [with regard to] every positive commandment which is not time-dependent, both men and women are obligated.

(א) ומצות עשה שהזמן גרמא הן מצות שאדם חייב לעשותם בזמן מוגבל וכשלא יהיה זה הזמן נתבטל חיובם.

Mitzvat Aseh she-hazeman geramah” means that the obligation to perform it applies at a certain time, and that at other times the obligation does not apply.

כל דתקון רבנן כעין דאורייתא תקון

All ordinances that the Sages instituted, they instituted parallel to Torah law.

שו”ת ספר הישר לרבנו תם סימן ע

דמ’ [דמצוות] עשה דרבנן שוה בכל

Rabbeinu Tam, Responsa Sefer Ha-yashar 70

For positive rabbinic commandments are equal[ly obligatory] for everyone [man and woman].

מי שלא - לנשים דפטורים ממצות עשה שהזמן גרמא אפילו מאותן שאינן אלא מדרבנן

To women, who are exempt from positive time-bound mitzvot, even from those that are only rabbinic.

רב אחא בר יעקב אמר קרא (שמות יג, ט) והיה לך לאות על ידך ולזכרון בין עיניך למען תהיה תורת ה' בפיך הוקשה כל התורה כולה לתפילין מה תפילין מ"ע שהזמן גרמא ונשים פטורות אף כל מ"ע שהזמן גרמא נשים פטורות

Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov, who said as follows: The verse states: “And it shall be a sign for you on your arm and for a memorial between your eyes, that the Torah of the Lord may be in your mouth” (Exodus 13:9). The entire Torah is juxtaposed to phylacteries: Just as phylacteries is a positive, time-bound mitzva and women are exempt, so too are women exempt every positive, time-bound mitzva.

וכללא הוא הרי מצה שמחה הקהל דמצות עשה שהזמן גרמא ונשים חייבות ותו והרי תלמוד תורה פריה ורביה ופדיון הבן דלאו מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא הוא ונשים פטורות אמר רבי יוחנן אין למדין מן הכללות ואפילו במקום שנאמר בו חוץ

And is it a rule? Behold: matza, rejoicing [on a festival], Hakhel [assembly at the end of the sabbatical year] - which are positive time-bound commandments and women are obligated. And further, behold: learning Torah [the command to] be fruitful and multiply, and redeeming the first born - which are not positive time-bound commandments, and women are exempt. Rabbi Yochanan said: We do not learn [definitively] from rules, even in a place where exceptions are stated.

(א) וכבר ידעת שהעיקר אצלנו אין למדין מן הכללות ומה שאמר כל אמנם רוצה לומר הרוב ואמנם מה שהנשים מחוייבות ממצות עשה ומה שאינן מחוייבות ממה שמגיע אליהן אינו תלוי בכלל ואמנם נמסרים על פה והם דברים שבאו בקבלה

For we have a rule that we do not learn [Halacha] from rules, and they say “all” to indicate “for the most part.” But positive mitzvot in which women are or are not obligated, in all of their scope, do not follow a rule but are transmitted orally and these are received traditions.

Rav S. R. Hirsch, Commentary to Vayikra 23:43 (Judaica Press translation)

The Torah did not impose these mitzvot on women because it did not consider them necessary to be demanded from women. All time-bound mitzvot are meant, by symbolic procedures, to bring certain facts, principles, ideas and resolutions afresh to our minds from time to time to fortify us to realize them to keep them. God’s Torah takes it for granted that our women have greater fervor and more faithful enthusiasm for their God-serving calling [than men], and that this calling runs less danger in their case than in that of men from the temptations which occur in the course of business and professional life. Accordingly it does not find it necessary to give women these repeated spurring reminders to remain true to their calling…

Rav S. R. Hirsch, 'The Jewish Woman,' Judaism Eternal

While fully appreciating the special and deeply implanted characteristics of the female sex, the Sages also attribute to it complete spiritual and intellectual equality with the male.

Sylvia Barack Fishman and Daniel Parmer, Matrilineal ASCENT/Patrilineal DESCENT, p. 1, 69

…Today American Jewish boys and men have fewer connections to Jews and Judaism than girls and women in almost every venue and in every age…Gender makes less of a difference among Orthodox Jews: the social capital of men and women within Orthodoxy is equal…American males are less attached to Jewish life not because men are innately “less religious” than women in some essential psychological way, but because American culture and society value religious activities and behaviors for women but devalue them for men. Moreover, those aspects of religion that men are typically more attracted to—namely religious activities—are not regarded as religious by the Christian-shaped society that values religious belief over religious behavior.

(כח) והטעם שנפטרו הנשים ממצות עשה שהזמן גרמה לפי שהאשה משועבדת לבעלה לעשות צרכיו. ואם היתה מחוייבת במצות עשה שהזמן גרמא איפשר שבשעת עשיית המצוה יצוה אותה הבעל לעשות מצותו. ואם תעשה מצות הבורא ותניח מצותו אוי לה מבעלה. ואם תעשה מצותו ותניח מצות הבורא אוי לה מיוצרה. לפיכך פטרה הבורא ממצותיו כדי להיות לה שלום עם בעלה. וגדולה מזאת מצאנו שהשם הגדול הנכתב בקדושה ובטהרה נמחה על המים כדי להטיל שלום בין איש לאשתו.

(28) The reason women are exempt from time-triggered positive commandments is that a woman is subjugated to her husband fo rthe fulfillment of his needs. If she were obligated to perform time-triggered commandments, it might happen that just when she is performing the commandment her husband will command her to do his bidding. If she were to fulfill the command of the Creator and ignores his [her husband's] command, woe to her from her husband! And if she were to fulfill his command and ignore that of the Creator, woe to her from her Maker! Therefore the creator exempted her from his commandments, so that she can be at peace with her husband.

Rav Menachem M. Schneerson 'Address to Convention of N'shei Ubnos Chabad,' 25 Iyar 5744

Women are freed from performing mitzvos which are obligatory only at a specific time (e.g., tzitzis, which is obligatory only during the day). The AriZal writes concerning such mitzvos: “When the male performs the mitzvah, it is unnecessary that the woman should also do them separately, for she has already been included with him at the time when he does the mitzvah… This is the meaning of our Sages’ statement, ‘One’s wife is as one’s body.’”…In other words, when Torah frees a women from certain mitzvos, it frees her only from doing them — so that she can devote her time and energies to her unique mission. The state of wholeness and perfection that is attained, and the reward that accrues, from these mitzvos, does pertain to women also — through her husband performing them.

רב ישראל גוסטמן, קונטרסי שעורים מסכתא קדושין, עמ’ 254

ונלענ”ד [ונראה לעניות דעתי] לחדש להלכה דגם במצות עשה שהזמן גרמא אין לנשים לבטלן בחנם אם לא מפני מצוה עוברת או משום טירחא יתירה…

Rav Yisrael Gustman, Kuntresei Shiurim, Kiddushin, p. 254

In my humble opinion, it seems warranted to rule that even in positive time-bound commandments, it is not worthy for women to free themselves from these mitzvot if not for some [other] mitzva [whose time is] passing or because of excessive effort…

אגרות משה אורח חיים ד:מט

…סתם נשים בעולם אינם עשירות ועליהן מוטל גידול הילדים והילדות שהיא מלאכה היותר חשובה להשי”ת [להשם יתברך] ולהתורה… שגם טבע הנשים מסוגל יותר לגידול הילדים שמצד זה הקל עליהן שלא לחייבן בלמוד התורה, ובמ”ע שהזמ”ג [ובמצוות עשה שהזמן גרמא], שלכן אף אם ישתנה סדור החיים בעולם גם לכל הנשים ולעשירות בכל הזמנים ואף כשאפשר למסור הגידול לאיזה אינשי ונשי כבמדינתנו לא נשתנה דין התורה ואף לא דין דרבנן…

Iggerot Moshe, OC 4:49

The average women in the world are not rich and are responsible for raising the boys and girls, which is the most important labor to God and to the Torah… For the nature of women is also more suited for child-rearing; therefore, [God] was lenient with them so as not to obligate them in learning Torah and in positive time-bound commandments. Therefore, even if the order of life in the world should change for all women, and for the wealthy in all eras, and even when it is possible to give over the child-rearing to some men and women as in our country, the law of the Torah has not changed and neither has rabbinic law.

Rabbi Saul Berman, 'The Status of Women in Halakhic Judaism,' pp. 16-17

While not demanding adherence to one particular role, it is nevertheless clear that since for most of our history, our continuation as a people depended upon the voluntary selection by women of the role of wife-mother-homemaker, the law would and did encourage the exercise of that choice…. Exemption would be a tool used by the Torah to achieve a particular social goal, namely to assure that no legal obligation would interfere with the selection by Jewish women of a role which was centered almost exclusively in the home. However, it is vital to emphasize that even with these exemptions, the wife-mother-homemaker role is not the mandated, or exclusively proper role, though it is clearly the preferred and therefore protected role.

Rabbanit Malke Bina, 'Symposium on Women and Jewish Education,' p. 15

I have always believed that women are released from positive time-bound mitzvot in order that they have more flexibility and more choices.

© DERACHEHA: WOMEN AND MITZVOT 2020