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Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Vayakhel




In this week’s parsha of Vayakhel, we learn of the women’s devotion through the kiyor – the washbasin that was used daily by the priests to wash their hands and feet before conducting the service.

We are told that the washbasin was made out of the copper mirrors that belonged to the Jewish women, who donated them for the purpose of building the mishkan.

Up until this point, we have not been told who made the donations that were used for constructing the vessels of the mishkan.  We do not know the origin of the gold used to make the menorah, nor whose wool was spun to make the curtains. Why do we specifically learn it was the copper mirrors that belonged to the women that built the wash basin?

The women used these mirrors to beautify themselves for their husbands, during their enslavement in Egypt. During those years of oppression, the women saw how broken and exhausted their husbands were from the crushing labour. In response, the women did what they could to entice and encourage their husbands, using their mirrors to beautify themselves before bringing food to their husbands in the fields.

Moshe was reluctant to use these very same mirrors for the mishkan that were used for physicality and to promote intimate desire.  He did not think that they had a place in the Mishkan.

The Midrash tells us that G-d told Moshe, “You are wrong. These mirrors are more precious to me than anything else. These mirrors are holy. Use these mirrors to build the washbasin.”

Why did G-d consider these mirrors precious and holy? Because through these mirrors, the Jewish people continued to propagate and thrive. When the husbands could not think of having children, the women enticed their husbands and therefore ensured the future of the Jewish people.

It is safe to assume that the women themselves were suffering under the burden of slavery and oppression, but they strove to overcome their feelings of despondency. They looked toward the future and saw the bigger picture.

They thought that if their husbands came home broken and depressed, then Pharaoh and the Egyptians would have succeeded in their attempts to destroy the morale and hope of the Jewish people.

Had it not been for the Jewish women, the future of the Jewish people may well have been cut short. And they were rewarded for their actions with multitudes and, in the words of the Torah, “legions” of children.

It is also important to note that the washbasin was the only vessel that did not have specific measurements in the temple.  G-d wanted to use every mirror that each woman donated. He wanted to show how much he “loved” those mirrors, using each of them to signal that true spirituality is found in the everyday objects of the material world.

We are taught that it was because of the women that the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt, and it will be because of the Jewish women that we will be redeemed once again.  Let us merit to bring the final redemption very soon!

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