As we read in this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, just prior to the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai G-d commanded Moses: “Thus shall you say to the House of Jacob, and tell to the Children of Israel.”
The Midrash explains that the “House of Jacob” refers to the Jewish women. Moreover, the command to “tell” the men implies harsh speech, whereas the command to “say” to the women connotes a gentler manner of imparting information.
This is not the only difference in the way Moses was commanded to transmit the Torah to the women and to the men. In fact, Moses was instructed to communicate the “general principles” to the women, whereas the men were to receive the “laws in detail.”
At first glance, this seems to imply a diminution of the value of Jewish women, as if the assumption is that they will not understand the minutiae of Jewish law. However, an in-depth analysis of the Midrash reveals something quite different:
“General principles” does not mean simple or nominal matters. On the contrary, it implies essential fundamentals and rules. In other words, G-d commanded Moses to transmit to the Jewish women the basic foundations of the Torah, from which all the smaller details he was to convey to the men are derived.
“General principles” is thus synonymous with the Torah’s very essence. Similarly, at the giving of the Ten Commandments, the first two contained the “general principles” of the other eight. (“I am the L-rd your G-d” is the source of the Torah’s 248 positive commandments; “You shall not have any other gods” is the source of its 365 prohibitions.)
Seen from this perspective, the Jewish women received the quintessence of the Torah, whereas the men “only” received its laws and ordinances, which obviously represent a lower level. The Torah is thus emphasizing a certain advantage women have over men.
In truth, the qualities of simple faith and awe of G-d are more openly revealed and manifested in women. G-d created women in such a way that their intellect does not override or control their personalities – who they really are – nor can it weaken their basic faith in G-d. Women are therefore more closely connected to the Torah’s essence, which is why being Jewish is determined by the mother and not the father. (A person whose mother is Jewish is Jewish; a person whose mother is not Jewish is not Jewish, even if his father is.)
This also relates to the Final Redemption: In the same way the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of the righteous Jewish women, so too will Moshiach come in the merit of the righteous women of our generation, may it happen immediately. Moshiach NOW!!!