1) WOMEN'S MERIT
QUESTION: The Gemara says, "How do women merit [reward]? By bringing their children to the synagogues [to learn Chumash], and by sending their husbands to the study halls [to learn Mishnah] and waiting for them to return home."
From the Gemara it seems that without these meritorious deeds, women would not receive any reward. However, there are many other Mitzvos that women fulfill. Do they not receive reward for those Mitzvos?
(a) The VILNA GA'ON cites the Gemara in Sotah (21a) that points out that the only way to merit permanent protection from suffering is by learning Torah. Mitzvos also serve as protection, but a Mitzvah protects a person only during the time that he is actually performing the Mitzvah. Torah protects a person all the time, even when he is not learning. The Gemara wants to know how women merit specifically the reward of permanent protection if they have no obligation to learn Torah.
(b) The Gemara in Kesuvos (111b) states that "one who is involved in the study of Torah, the Torah will revive him (when the resurrection occurs)." The Gemara wants to know how women will merit the reward of resurrection if they are not involved in Torah study. The Gemara answers that they merit resurrection in reward for the Torah study of their children and their husbands.
RAV YAAKOV D. HOMNICK (in MARBEH SHALOM, #7) points out that there are two types of rewards. One type is a specific reward that a person receives for performing each specific Mitzvah. A second type is a general reward that a person receives for the level of spiritual development that he achieves in this world. This is the reward that the Gemara in Kesuvos is discussing. It is a reward that a person receives in the World to Come, and it is attainable only in the merit of learning Torah. Women certainly receive reward for the Mitzvos that they do. The Gemara here wants to know how women receive reward for reaching a state of completion, when such a state is attainable only through learning Torah. The Gemara answers that by making sure that their children and their husbands study Torah, women reach their state of completion. In fact, the woman's reward is even greater than the man's, as the previous Gemara states, "Greater is the assurance that the Holy One promised to women than to men," because it is the women who assure the continuity of Torah study in the world, as the Gemara here describes.