The Mishna, Kidushin chapter 4:

A man cannot be alone with two women, but one woman can be alone with two men.

The Bavli thereon, 80 amud 2:

What's the reason? A Mishna-explainer of the house of Eliyahu [said]: because women, their knowledge (daas) is light upon them.

Rashi thereon:

and a pair of them are easy to seduce.

Now consider D'varim 17:2–3:

If there will be found among you, in one of your gates God your god is giving you, a man or woman who will do the bad in God your god's eyes, to break his treaty, and will go and serve other gods and bow to them, or to the sun or the moon or the legions of the sky, that I commanded not

Ramban thereon (and similarly to 29:17):

It mentions "man or woman" because, due to the lightness of the knowledge (daas) of the woman, she will be seduced to serve idolatry by a sign or wonder done before her. The evidence is the wives in Yirm'ya [44:15].

Now, as to the golden calf, Rashi (Sh'mos 32:4) tells us:

"This is your god, Israel." "This is our god" was not said: [we see] from here that the erev rav who came up from Egypt [12:38] are the ones who gathered against Aharon [32:1] and they are the ones who made it, and then they caused Israel to stray after it.

What was the calf made of? Sh'mos 32:2–3:

Aharon said to them: "Remove the golden rings that are in your wives', sons', and daughters' ears, and bring them to me." So the entire people removed the golden rings that were in their [own] ears and brought [them] to Aharon.

Pirke D'rabi Eliezer (45):

The women heard and did not accept upon themselves to give their rings to their husbands, but told them "you want to make a disgusting thing that has no power to save".

Likewise, K'li Yakar (ad loc. and, more clearly, to 35:22) explains that the men donated the jewelry and the women did not.

Obviously, these are disparate sources, and perhaps each doesn't agree with what the others say. But it seems likely to me that they do (perhaps because all of the above sources are widely known and widely accepted), in which case the question arises:

If women are easy to seduce and particularly to idolatry, how is it that the erev rav's seduction to idolatry failed specifically for the women? Or, if the women are specifically the ones who managed to withstand the erev rav's seduction to idolatry, then why are they called easy to seduce and particularly to idolatry?

  • fluctuating lead to great things in both directions
    – kouty
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 7:13
  • They didn't worship the calf out of being impressed by wonders. It was a decision.
    – HaLeiVi
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 8:42
  • 1
    Pointing to a singular exception (the egel) does not effect the reality of the general rule.
    – user6591
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 17:21
  • @user6591, maybe not but then it does lead to the question "how is it that the erev rav's seduction to idolatry failed specifically for the women?".
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


It would have been easy to answer according to Rashi in Ki Sisa 32 2 who says the reason Aharon told the men to take the jewelry from their wives and children was because he knew the women and children would not easily part with their beloved jewelry, and he was looking to stall the men. From this we could have said the action, or inaction of the women was not spiritually motivated, rather they were just protecting their jewelry. However, Rashi is apparently quoting the Tanchuma there 19(21) and the Tanchuma does go on to state the women's religious reasoning behind not involving themselves, much like the Pirkei DiRabi Eliezer you quote.

And so in order to answer why the women did not in fact sin we can quote Radal on that Pirkei DiRabi Eliezer #19 who says 'it's quite possible the women had absolutely nothing to do with the egel as mentioned in Vayikra Rabba, and as we we see in various medrashim the women of that generation were more kosher than the men'.

And so although in general, we assume women would be more easily swayed, that generation happened to have had especially righteous women who were not easily swayed.

  • +1 and many thanks. Do you know where I can read this Radal online, so I might see the original?
    – msh210
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 19:07
  • I'm pretty sure Hebrew books has one of their Pirkei DiRabi Eliezers with it. Sorry, I would've checked and linked but I didn't have time now. Maybe later.
    – user6591
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 19:10
  • 2
    One thing that did catch my eye though is the arayos that are hinted to in passuk 6 litzachek, that I would assume does include the women, and I would assume they were willing participants, so something more needs to be said.
    – user6591
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 19:14

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