Jewish Women

February 4, 2015 by

Jewish Women
Positioned at the foot of Har Sinai, the Jewish people take camp and prepare for the epic moment of Matan Torah. Hashem opens the heavens and calls to Moshe - כֹּה תֹאמַר לְבֵית יַעֲקֹב וְתַגֵּיד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל - "So you should say to the House of Jacob and relate to the Children of Israel" (Shemos 19:3). Why does Hashem distinguish between "the House of Jacob" and "the Children of Israel?" The conventional understanding of this is as Rashi explains: The House of Jacob is the women. Moshe was to explain the Torah to them in a soft and gentle way so that it would be palpable for them. Hence the word amira, which connotes a more gentle form of speech. The Children of Israel referred to the men. To them Moshe was instructed to be as straightforward as necessary in order that they understand the less pleasant elements of the Torah like punishment and precision of law. The word sagid is therefore use, which signifies a more harsh way of speaking.

The Maharsha reads the verse from a completely different angle. The word "visagid" can mean – and you shall say, as Rashi understands. It can also be read as – and she shall say (Sota; 21a). The Maharsha is giving us a brilliant new way of understanding the verse. כֹּה תֹאמַר לְבֵית יַעֲקֹב - Moshe was told to first give the Torah over to the women. " וְתַגֵּיד לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאלֵ" and she would then give it over to the men! Knowing at times it would not be easy for the men to uphold the Torah, the women were charged with the role of giving it to the men. They would give them the required kick in the pants. Praiseworthy is she who pushes her husband to learn. Outstanding is she who lets her husband out to pray with a minyan three times a day. The Torah emanates from such a woman.

At Kriyas Yam Suf we find that the women had musical instruments. Where did they come from? The women brought them from Egypt because they had faith they would be redeemed. The Maharsha says that's why Hashem gave them the Torah, a wife's emuna and bitachon is the bedrock of a Jewish home. Her Torah sets the direction of the entire family.

Something to think about while singing Eishes Chayil this Shabbos.

Good Shabbos.

Leave a Comment