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REFLECTING ON THE MIRROR

by Stuart W.    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"He made the kiyor (laver) of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of the legions who massed at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting" (Exodus 38:8).

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"He made the kiyor (laver) of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of the legions who massed at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting" (Exodus 38:8).

In this week's Torah portion, the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) is completed. One of the most important vessels of the Mishkan was the kiyor described in the above verse. From its water, the Kohanim (priests) sanctified their hands and feet before performing any service. The Midrash relates that the "mirrors of the legions" used in the fabrication of the kiyor refers to the mirrors of the Jewish women who generously donated their personal items for the building of the Mishkan. At first, Moses did not want to accept the mirrors because they had been used as instruments for the women to beautify themselves and attract their husbands. However, G-d Himself told Moses to take them. Not only are the mirrors acceptable, declared Hashem, but they are more beloved to Me than any of the other donations.

Why were these mirrors so dear? The Midrash continues that when the Jews were slaves in Egypt, the men were forced to endure extremely long and rigorous days of back-breaking labor. When they came home, they were totally exhausted and had no hope for a brighter future. The righteous Jewish women would use their mirrors to make themselves look beautiful, so that they could entice their husbands to continue normal family life. As a result of their valiant efforts, "legions" of Jewish children were born (hence, the mirrors are referred to as "mirrors of the legions").

We can learn a very important lesson from this passage in the Midrash. Every aspect of our lives can be dedicated towards a holy purpose and elevated for the service of G-d. Going to synagogue or learning Torah is not the extent of our spiritual potential. Even the seemingly mundane parts of life - such as eating, sleeping, exercising, and even going to the restroom - can become a service of G-d, if one's intentions are to make himself stronger and healthier to better serve Hashem. Likewise, marital relations is a great mitzvah; indeed, marriage is called "kiddushin - holiness".

The underlying concept here is that according to Judaism, human beings can elevate the physical world around them to a higher, spiritual level. In fact, this is really our major task throughout life - to make our physical selves more and more spiritual. This is not to say that we should spurn the physical world and go live in a cave somewhere. On the contrary, Judaism proclaims that we can live in the midst of the physical world, and by fulfilling what G-d has instructed us in His Torah, we can elevate the world to its ideal state.

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