The Gemara states that the reward awaiting women is greater than that of men, in the merit of the support and encouragement that they give to their husbands and children in their studies. This point involves two puzzling matters. Why does the Gemara attribute the reward of the women to their involvement in their husbands’ mitzvos? Although women are indeed exempt from certain mitzvos such as tefillin and Torah study, they still have many of their own mitzvos through which they may earn reward. The Rambam writes:
“Rebbe Chananya ben Akashya said that Hashem wished to reward the Jewish people, therefore He gave them an abundance of Torah and mitzvos.” One of the foundations of our faith is that when a person performs even one mitzvah properly, purely for the love of Hashem, without any ulterior motive, he will thereby merit a portion in the World-to-Come. This is what Rebbe Chananya meant to say, that since there are so many mitzvos in the Torah, each Jew will certainly perform at least one of them correctly, thereby enlivening his soul.
In light of the above, there seems to be no need for women to be dependent on their husbands’ mitzvos.
Furthermore, we must understand why women are granted an even greater reward for their apparently peripheral involvement in their husbands’ studies. If the function of women is simply to help their husbands to study Torah, is it not more likely that their reward would be less? This parallels an idea found in the Midrash:
Messengers sent to perform a mitzvah are exempt from the obligation to dwell in a succah. There is nothing more beloved to Hashem than one who is sent to perform a mitzvah and applies himself to fulfil it properly.
This Midrash seems to imply that the messenger sent to perform another’s mitzvah is even greater than the one who sent him. Is it not more logical to suppose that the messenger is merely an intermediary, and the one who sent him should be more beloved?
Another point that warrants investigation is highlighted in an interesting Midrash:
“May Hashem bless you and guard you.” “Bless you” is a blessing for sons. “Guard you” is a blessing for daughters.Why is there an aspect of guarding contained in the beracha, and why is it that the safeguarding of the Jewish people is ascribed to our daughters? See more ...
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