Friday, March 20, 2009

women's donation to the Mishkan

Too much work, too little time to write... The Torah tells us that the women also donated to the Mishkan, expertly weaving while the wool was still attached to the sheep (35:26). Yet, we know the halacha that a women's handiwork actually belongs to her husband. Isn't it husbands and not wives who deserve the credit from the pasuk? I saw an answer quoted in the name of R' Chaim Volozhiner's mother (and yes, it is because of who said it that I am writing this). The reason a husband is entitled to keep his wife's handiwork is because he provides her with mezonos, food and support. Since in the desert the women did not need their husband's support, as the man fell equally for women as well as men, this takanah of ma'aseh yadayim belonging to the husband did not apply!

(Yes, according to pshat there was not yet in the midbar a din of kesubah much less a takanah of ma'aseh yadayim, but if that's your approach then please try to explain to me the Rashi about Yosef showing Ya'akov his wife's kesubah without diving into an abyss of allegorical mush. We discussed this before v'ain kan makom l'ha'arich.)

Update: "Rebbetzin Volozhiner" may get creativity points for her answer, but my wife prefers pshat to derash and when I mentioned this question on Shabbos she immediatly pointed out that who says the women who donated were married -- maybe they were the single girls and the whole kashe doesn't get off the ground.


  1. If I'm not mistaken, only the goats had their hair woven while still attached; the sheep wool was still m'chusar tviyah u'tzviah. (A nitpick, but having recently read RSRH's essay on symbolism as applied to the mishkan, I've been wondering a lot more about the significance of the minutae of the mishkan).

  2. You are right. I am not a big Hirsch fan -- other than his own speculations, what are his suggested symbolisms based on? You could say its no worse than the Rambam in Moreh, but I don't know if you gain much by saying that.

  3. Anonymous1:02 PM

    I assume she means the single girls that were past katnus and na'arus and still not married-- the old maids, so to speak. Because before that, their ma'aseh yadayim belongs to their fathers mide'oraysa.

    And now, we see how our holy Toirah is merumaz at in our daily language-- (I hope you're sitting down...)

  4. Anonymous1:22 PM

    Rishonim say that the kesubah was practiced in some form even prior to Mattan Torah as a minhag. That is the meaning of the passuk "Kessef yishkol ke mohar ha besulos."

    That does not mean that the formal takkanos were in tact -- they were not instituted till much later.

  5. Anonymous1:31 PM

    Now that you mention it, maybe the answer is Eih Hachi Nami.

    If you look at the passuk (Shemos 35:25) it says that the women spun the material (red wool, purple wool, etc.) and then THEY brought it spun (Vayaviuh Matveh).

    THEY BROUGHT is written in masculine form -- Vayaviuh. If the women who had spun the wool brought it, it shold be feminine form -- VaTavina (Vateveina?).

    Perhaps it was the HUSBANDS brought the spun wook and linen.