Hashem commanded Moshe to speak to the Jewish men and women about accepting the Torah. This verse was immortalized by Sorah Schenirer when she coined the name “Bais Yaakov” for schools for girls. However, in refererence to the men, the Torah uses the phrase the “sons” of Israel. Why when discussing the women does it use the phrase the “house” of Yaakov when “daughters” would seem to be the appropriate parallel?
Rav Meir Shapiro observes that when a person becomes ill, there are hypothetically two ways for a doctor to treat him. The standard procedure is to prescribe medication, although another theoretical option would be to design a room in which the air is full of the necessary antibiotic. The former option has the drawbacks that it only helps one patient and requires active administration , whereas the latter could benefit many people without any effort on their parts.
Similarly, in fighting the universal illness known as the yetzer hara (evil inclination), men follow the prescription of the Gemora (Kiddushin 30b) to repel it through the study of Torah. Although the latter option isn’t currently medically feasible, Jewish women nevertheless use it to ward off spiritual illness. As the backbones of the house, they imbue the entire home with an atmosphere of holiness and spirituality, which automatically benefits not only themselves but also their husbands and children and all who are fortunate to enter their homes.
This is also alluded to in a well-known verse (Mishlei 1:8) Shema b’ni Mussar avicha v’al titosh toras imecha – Listen my son to the rebuke of your father, and don’t forsake the teachings of your mother. Shlomo Hamelech found it necessary to instruct one to listen to the lessons of one’s father, but a mother’s wisdom permeates the very air of the house and will be absorbed even without effort. It is to emphasize this connection that the Torah refers to the women not as the daughters of Yaakov but as the house of Yaakov.

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