“And he made the laver of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of (the women) who congregated at the entrance to the tent meeting” (38:8).
“The tent of meeting” mentioned here is the tent mentioned previously: “And Moshe took the tent and he pitched it on the side the camp far from the camp, and he called it ohel moed [tent of meeting]; and it was that everyone that sought Hashem would go out to the tent” (33:8). It was at this tent of Moshe that women congregated in great number, for they were seekers of Hashem. (The word “congregated” here is zav’u, from the word va which means “a host” or “army,” as in “And the heavens and earth and all their host were completed” – Bereishis 2:1).
This noteworthy enthusiasm of the women seeking Hashem is mentioned here only incidentally without any comment. We are therefore justified in understanding also that a multitude of men congregated near this tent because they too were seekers of Hashem.
The women’s mirrors were given especial preference as a source of copper, because they entailed a sacrifice of considerable magnitude inasmuch as all women use mirrors.
There was another aspect that made the mirrors worthy of preference for the laver (kiyor). Just as the laver provided water for washing the hands and feet as a preparation for the service of Hashem, so also had the mirrors served as preparation for the service of Hashem. Israel views the function of procreation with the most profound respect. The especial devotion of the women of Israel to the ideal of producing a nation for the service of Hashem had made these mirrors an essential factor in encouraging procreation in Egypt when the sons of Israel were being crushed under the heel of oppression.
Like the kiyor, the mirrors had served as preparation for the most noble service of creating the nation of Hashem’s servants. By means of these mirrors the women had beautified themselves in order to restore the spirits of their broken and downtrodden husbands, and thus the children of Israel continued to increase despite the heavy oppression.
In verse 35:22 we read: “Everyone generous of heart brought bracelets and earrings and rings and beads, all jewels of gold.” These are all women’s ornaments, which implies that the women willingly parted with their personal ornaments for the sake of the Mishkan.
We are taught here that just as the laver is essential as preparation for the service of Hashem, so also (and even more fundamentally) is the institution of marriage and begetting children and rearing them to adulthood a most essential preparation for Hashem’s service. Actually, marriage and children are in themselves the major forms of service to Hashem: “Was the world not created but for the purpose of piryah and rivyah” (Gittin 4 1B).
Compiled for The Jewish Press by the Rabbi Avigdor Miller Simchas Hachaim Foundation, a project of Yeshiva Gedolah Bais Yisroel, which Rabbi Miller, zt”l, founded and authorized to disseminate his work. Subscribe to the Foundation’s free e-mail newsletters on marriage, personal growth, and more at www.SimchasHachaim.com. For more information, or to sponsor a Simchas Hachaim Foundation program, call 718-258-7400 or e-mail info@SimchasHachaim.com.