Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
  • Women in Judaism
To dedicate this lesson

Women's level in serving Hashem

Throughout the centuries, the Jewish women had a strong faith in God, a faith which brought the redemption of the nation.


Rabbi Moshe Tzuriel

Donated by women
In building the Mishkan (Tabernacle) the Torah writes: "And he made the washstand of copper and its base of copper from the mirrors of the women who had set up the legions (HaTzovot), who congregated (Asher Tzavu) at the entrance of the tent of meeting." (Exodus 38, 8). What does the word "HaTzovot" - set up the legions, from the word ‘Tzava’ - army, mean? Why to add the words "who congregated" (Asher Tzav’u)?

Rashi answers in the name of our sages: The daughters of Israel had mirrors which they used when ornamenting, and they brought even those as donations for building the Mishkan. Moses was disgusted from the mirrors because they were used for evil inclination (Yetzer Hara). G-d told him ‘Accept them! they are more favorite for me than all other things since because of them, they made many armies in Egypt’. When their husbands were tired from the hard work, the women used to go and bring them food and drink, and feed them. Each woman held the mirror so she could see herself with her husband in the mirror and said "I'm more handsome than you". They brought their husbands to lust, became pregnant and gave birth... The sink was made from those mirrors, to make peace between husband and wife - to give water to a woman that her husband became jealous".

The original words of the Sages are much more acute than what Rashi wrote. So they said: "Because God told Moses to build the tabernacle, and all of Israel had volunteered. Some brought money and some brought gold and quickly they brought everything. The women said, what do we have to give for the tabernacle? They stood and brought the mirrors ... When Moses saw the mirrors he was angry and told the people ‘take sticks and brake their shins’. Mirrors, why do we need them? God said to Moses, 'Moses, are you degrading these? These mirrors brought all these legions in Egypt ... ' (Tanhuma, Pekudei, 9).

Now we understand why the Torah calls all of the women who brought mirrors "Tzovot" Not just simply because they came in a masse, as an army, but because of what they have done - they caused the emergence armies [large collection] of Israel in Egypt. So, the verse emphasizes and repeats "Asher Tzavu" to say that the women in the those days were "Hatzovot" - while still in Egypt they caused the birth of all of the legions.

Moses, who separated from his wife for forty years, as Chazal say on the verse "And you stand here with Me" (Deuteronomy 28. Shabbat 87 A) didn’t look favorably at physical stimulus for marital relations. But God who saw the intention of those women, praised them. "for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (Samuel A, 16, 7). Those women were great believers. Our Sages said that the merit of the righteous women of that generation redeemed us from Egypt "(Sotah 11 B).

We can see how those wonderful women were uplifted in other places. The Torah says "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances" (Exodos 15, 20). The question is how did the women have drums to dance in the desert? They left Egypt in haste, as it says "and by a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land" (Exodos 6, 1). Most of the people had to travel by foot and had to take foods on their backs and some necessary clothes, how did they come alongside with drums? We can’t answer that they purchased from dealers in the desert. The act of parting the Red Sea was on the seventh day after leaving, and yet they haven't camped anywhere! Rashi brings the answer: "The righteous women of that generation knew that God does miracles for them, and brought drums from Egypt". This belief is puzzling in our eyes. They believed in redemption by God and knew in advance that it would happen and that they will sing!

The root of faith
We need to understand the source of our mothers faith while in Egypt. Already with Miriam we can see that she understood what her father Amram (who was the leader of that generation) did not understand. When Amram separated from his wife claiming that Pharaoh will throw children in the Nile, his daughter said: "Your decree is more difficult than that of Pharaoh . Pharaoh's decreased only the males, and you decreased the males and the females. Pharaoh's decreased only in this world. And you also in this world and the world to come. There is a doubt if Pharaoh’s evil will exist, but you are a righteous, and your decree will certainly exist. (Sota 12, a). The two last arguments of Miriam, even if the babys will drown in water they will have part in the world to come, and there is no certainty that Pharaoh’s decrees will succeed, show a wonderful and sublime faith. This young girl has surpassed all other men of the generation, we did not find one of them who said such things to Amram!

Miriam had a level of faith higher not only from Amram’s, it was higher also from the level of Aharon, the high priest. When Moses came to Egypt, after hearing the God’s words at the burning bush, he brought with him Zipporah and her two children. When Aharon came to greet him, he told him off. "Who are these?" asked Aharon and Moses answered that they are his wife he married in Midian and their children. Aharon Asked "Where are you leading them to?" and Moses answered "To Egypt". Aharon said that they are sorry for the people already in Egypt, since they don’t know how long it will take to get them out, and he brings more? So Moses sent Tzipora, his wife, back to her father. It’s a shame that Moses did not meet then Miriam. She did not claim that "we are sorry for the people already in Egypt, how can you bring more?" But she demanded to build large families with many children. She had a strong hope that God will keep his word and lead them out of Egypt. She saw the desired future as very actual. However, when Moses sent his wife, it was impossible for her to have more children. Miriam would have overcome Aharon's claim, and even the silence and agreement of Moses!

In earlier times, we found great faith in the act of Sarah. When taken captive by Pharaoh, we can’t see any damage in her inner calmness. The Netziv writes ("Hamek Davar," Genesis 23, 1) "Sarah had a Holy Spirit greater than Abraham. The are two reason for this... Second, The Holy Spirit applies only via the joy of mitzvah. And Sarah had great righteousness and a very strong faith as said in the Midrash (Bereshit Raba 41, 2) that Sarah said to Abraham, 'You have a promise and I with faith, etc.. Therefore she was never unhappy, and was immersed in the Holy Spirit ". It means that Sarah didn’t have all of the doubts that Abraham dealt with but she had a simple faith full of confidence in God, even at that bitter time when a tyrant and defiled king held her.

Devotion to observing Mitzvot
The women of Israel continued in Sarah’s path and did not take part in the sin of the golden calf. Aharon, with the intention of suspending the creation of the calf told the people "Break off the golden rings, which are in the ears of your wives" (Exod. 32). But actually they didn’t take the jewelry from the women, but from the men themselves, as it is written, "And all the people broke off the golden rings which were in their ears". The women are rewarded by not doing work on Rosh Chodesh (Mishna Brura 417). The women did not get confused when Moses disappeared from sight. They believed in who sent him, and not in Moses himself.

We found the Kosher girls of Israel, continuing Sarah’s path, and didn’t attend the sin of the Spies. The verse says it explicitly "And there was not left a man of them" (Numbers 26, 65) and Rashi wrote: But the women were not in the decrees of the spies, they loved the land. The men said "Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt". But the women said, "Give us a possession ". This came from a simple faith in God, that will keep his words and will bring us into the promised land.

We found the Kosher girls of Israel, continuing Sarah’s path, who came to protest against handing the settlement ‘Amona’ to the Arabs. They knew in advance about the brutal police. They knew in advance that they might intended evil violence. And although their delicacy, they came from a simple faith in God.

When building the Tabernacle, came the holy women to give God the mirrors, which were used in the past to stimulate the love of family growth. In human eyes (Moses) it had a bad taste, since the mirrors were used for physical goals. What place is there for such mirrors in the Hall of the Lord? God replied "on the contrary, use them for heaven." While the men were desperate and out of hope, it was Miriam and other righteous women who raise their faith "And there is hope for thy future, saith the LORD; and thy children shall return to their own border." ( Jeremiah, 31, 16). They will know that in the future, another sun will shine on them clearing all of the troubles. In this, women are greater than men.

So when a man has the suspicion against his wife, he would bring her to drink water of Sota. And specifically by water from the laver of brass, built entirely by the mirrors, to restore the love between the spouses, and remove any suspicion.

How great is the reward of faith! After the verse, "and they believe in God" it says "Then sang Moses and the children of Israel" (Ex. 15, 1). That is - the greater their belief was, they could sing ecstatically, with emotional abounds. What was the reward ? Chazal say (Tanhuma, Beshalach, Chapter 10) that "therefore, they inherited the land". How is this hinted in the verse? At the end of poetry it says "Thou bringest them in, and planted them in the mountain of Thine inheritance" (Exodus 15, 16). What does "planets them" mean? Like a tree which is planted with deep roots invisible to the eye which span a very wide area, and you can not tear up the tree. So, the ownership of Israel on the Land of Israel is incapable of any malice government to cancel or undermine such a solid relationship. The country is called "Deer country" (Eretz Hatzvi) . And Zvi (צבי) gematria is faith (אמונה).

How great are Israel! They are "believers, sons of believers" (Shabbat 97 A.) And that we have to learn from the righteous women.

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