(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis
FROM:           Russell Hendel (rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu)
DATE:           Sun, 3 Nov 1996
SUBJECT:        Re: Women's Tefilah Groups

It was suggested that women who hadn't made Biract Hatorah [blessings on
learning Torah, also made when receiving an aliyah] in the morning may then
say bircath hatorah when called up to an aliyah.

However the law states that if a man had not said bircath hatorah
and had already said kriath shema (with beracoth) [the Shema with its
blessings] that he is no longer allowed to say bircath hatorah since the
beracoth of kriath shmah serve this purpose. Based on this it would seem
that women also are not allowed to say bircath hatorah if they have davened
kriath shemah. It would also appear to me that saying an improper beracha
is not a rabbinical error but a biblical error (.. not using Hashem's name
in vain).

The following further objection to women's prayer groups is possible.
Would it be "logical / acceptable" to invoke the prohibition of lo
tisgodidu (don't make yourselves into many factions) to discourage women
from separating from men and making a prayer group? Note that a possible
counterargument is that we do **not** invoke lo tisgodidu when men wish
to make a "new minyan" in a town.

Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d., ASA