The Ramban interprets al ha’nashim, with the women, as indicating that the men were ancillary, secondary to the women. The jewelry detailed in this pasuk was primarily women’s jewelry. As soon as they heard the call for donations, the women came to donate. Targum Onkeles translates al ha’nashim as, on the women, implying that the women came bedecked in their expensive jewelry, removed it there, and donated it to the Mishkan. Why did they remove their jewelry only after they arrived at the area designated for donations? Horav Moshe Feinstein, zl, explains that the women sought to convey the message that despite the fact that they liked their jewelry, and they would otherwise be more than happy to hold on to it, Hashem’s Mishkan took precedence. They were not donating old, worn-out clothes that no one wore anymore. They were contributing their updated, fashionable jewelry, because they wanted to give their best to Hashem. Furthermore, they brought the jewelry themselves, to demonstrate that it was their decision – not something their husbands forced them to do.
This is the manner in which we should give tzedakah, charity: because one wants to share his best, his most loved – not something that he wants to rid himself of. Likewise, with regard to Torah study. One should not regret the worldly pleasures that he is relinquishing in order to learn Torah. The time he devotes to Torah study should be his most prized time, which he happily defers to what is most important to him – Torah study.
I just came across an inspiring dvar Torah from Horav Mordechai Gifter, zl, which expresses a similar point. We read in the Haftorah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah about Chanah and her supplications for a child. Chanah’s pleas for a child were not unusual; every woman wants to be a mother. While the reasons behind their maternal passion may vary – every woman wants to have a child to love, to establish a legacy, a bond with the future. Human nature dictates that someone who has waited a long time for the blessing of a child to be realized will want to smother her child with extraordinary love and never let him/her out of her sight. This is natural, and the rationale is obvious. Concerning Chanah, we notice an anomaly. She asserts that if Hashem were to bless her with a child, she will give him up to Hashem! Chanah did not want a child simply to satisfy her maternal instinct. She desired a child so that she could honor Hashem! She wanted to glorify the Almighty, to elevate His Name in the world. Rosh Hashanah is the day that we coronate Hashem as Melech Malchei ha’Melachim, King of Kings. How fitting is the Haftorah that tells us about the woman that wanted a child just so that she could better serve Hashem. Incidentally, Chanah’s prayer was answered on Rosh Hashanah. Something to think about.