What was the significance that the women contributed their earrings to the egel?
The significance was to let us know that the women who went out of Mitzrayim were very high-caliber women. That’s one of the important teachings of the Sefer Shemos. The gemara says, בשכר נשים צדקניות שבאותו הדור נגאלו אבותינו ממצרים – We were redeemed from Mitzrayim in the merit of the pious women.
Now you have to hear that well. That’s why the Sefer Shemos begins with the story of the two meyaldos, the Hebrew midwives, how they were moser nefesh. They even disobeyed Pharaoh’s instructions because the Hebrew women wanted to have a lot of children in order they should increase and multiply. And the Hebrew women did many things to accomplish that purpose.
You remember when the time came to build the kiyor in the Mishkan, the kiyor was made of nechoshes, copper. The kiyor was where they washed their hands to do the avodas Hashem andithad to be of copper. So the women donated their copper mirrors to make the kiyor.
At first Moshe Rabeinu refused to accept it because mirrors are not for such a good purpose – that’s what the women use to beautify themselves to find favor in the eyes of the men. But Hakadosh Baruch Hu said קח מאתם – “Yes, take it from them. These mirrors are the copper that I want you to make the kiyor out of.” Because when the men were broken and discouraged from the avodas perech – they were working so hard and they lost their spirit; they lost any interest in having children – so the idealistic women used to make themselves beautiful by means of the mirrors and attract their husbands in order to fulfill the very great function of causing the nation to increase and multiply.
So Hashem said, “I want their mirrors to make the kiyor. Don’t go someplace else and look for copper. I want these copper mirrors.” That’s how important the function of increasing the Am Hashem is.
Now, when the time came to build the Mishkan, it says ויבואו האנשים על הנשים – The men came together with the women. The women were the ones most enthusiastic in giving all their jewelry to the Mishkan. Because of the women, the men followed. Al means they followed the women. The women were the leaders in donating to the Mishkan.
At the time when they planned on making the egel, the good people thought that it was a worthwhile thing. They didn’t intend it as avodah zarah. Only later when the egel was made so the erev rav who came from Egypt, the riffraff of Egypt – of course they were the best people of Egypt; it was only hayarei devar Hashem, those Mitzrim who feared Hashem who came out – but they were the lowest people of the Am Yisrael. They were the ones who started dancing around the egel – the good people didn’t want to dance around the egel. They wanted it for hashra’as hashechinah, like the פני השור במרכבה. And therefore the women contributed to what they thought was a good cause.
The earrings were a big sacrifice for them because earrings cause a woman to look much better; that’s why they wear it. And because they thought it was for a good purpose they took off their earrings and they donated it. נתבעים לעגל ונותנים נתבעים למשכן ונותנים – When it was needed for the egel they gave it and when it was needed for the Mishkan they gave. So they gave for all good causes. They thought it was a good cause. That shows that their intentions were good when they made the egel at first and it wasn’t their fault.
You see when Moshe Rabeinu said מי להשם אלי and the sons of Levi then carried out judgment on the sinners, only 3000 people were slain. Now 3000 people are nothing in such a big camp of two million people. Because it was just the erev rav – and not even all the erev rav. Just some of them were judged and found guilty.
And therefore from the fact that the nashim tzidkaniyos donated their earrings we understand that the purpose of the egel at first was a good purpose – even Aharon concurred at first – and the women who contributed meant well.
TAPE # 692