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    The women worked harder – Vayakhel

    Exodus 35:22 records that both men and women brought contributions to the construction and decoration of the sanctuary. The Torah text tells us that the men and the women both came forward.

    This is the way in which Rashi understands the verse. According to him, the word al is to be read as “with”.

    Ramban (Nachmanides) has a different take on the verse. His view is that the women were much more enthusiastic than the men. It’s not just that their donations were more valuable, but their spirit was more excited and eager.

    One can imagine that many of the men had a rather perfunctory attitude. They knew they had to bring contributions, but they were more business-like and practical than the women. It was the women who overflowed with love for God and keenness to adorn His Holy Place.

    This difference between men and women is echoed in many parts of Jewish history and development.

    When people ask why men seem to have a dominant role in Jewish worship, it may be that they were the ones who needed to be trained and taught to serve God whereas with the women it was more natural and instinctive. The women needed less ritual prodding to love the Almighty.

    We see it every day when women, who in many cases are exempt from fulfilling the commandments, take their own initiative in prayer and psalms.

    The Israeli buses are the scene of many of these moments. Women tend not to sit and stare on the bus but to daven and read Tehillim.

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