“They came, both men and women, as many as were willing hearted, and brought clasps, and pendants, rings and golden beads, all vessels of gold” (Shemot 35:22). The expression translated in our verse as “both men and women” reads in the Hebrew, ha’anashim al hanashim which literally means “the men on the women.” Rashi, Ramban and Rabbeinu Bachaya explain that the women took off their jewelry and brought it at once. They preceded the men in bringing clasps, pendants, rings, golden beads and different vessels of gold.
For the Mishkan, the Women Gave First
When the men arrived they found that the women had already brought their contribution. This is a great tribute to the women, who had previously refused to give anything to the Golden Calf. The above explanation would also hold true had the verse read ha’anashim acharei hanashim – “the men after the women.” Perhaps the word al which literally means on alludes to the fact that in preparing for the Mishkan, the men relied on the women. It was the merit of the righteous women that enabled the building of the Mishkan. G-d rewarded the women both in this world and in the coming world for refusing to give to their jewelry to the Golden Calf, yet giving generously to the Mishkan, which was erected on Rosh Chodesh. They received the privilege to keep Rosh Chodesh more than the men in this world, and they will be rewarded in the coming world to be renewed like the moon (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 44). May the renewal of the wisdom of women bring about the building of the Temple in our time!