<i>Vayakhel</i>: ?Reflections? on the <i>Sedra</I>

Rashi explains the provenance of these mirrors: when their husbands would return exhausted from slave labor in Egypt, the women would fix them a meal and then bring them in front of the mirror. Teasingly, seductively, they would say, "I'm prettier than you!" This would entice the men to have relations with their wives, and produce a new generation of Jews. Thus, the rather strange term "mar'ot

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Rabbi S Weiss.JPG
Arutz 7
I'm getting that "Deja vu all over again" feeling as I read this week's Sedra. The people donate to the Mishkan? Been there. Bezalel (Wow, what a Bar Mitzvah boy this kid was!) appointed the Mishkan's chief architect at age 13? Done that. The Aron, the Kruvim, the Menora and Mizbeyach described? Are you stuttering, Moshe? You've said all this already.

Why is this week's Parsha a repetition of all the things we just learned three weeks ago?

I have a thought. But first, a fascinating Rashi. The Torah tells us that the women of Israel contributed their copper mirrors for the making of the Kiyor, the laver used by the Kohanim to wash their hands and feet in order to prepare for the Avoda service in the Mishkan. Rashi explains the provenance of these mirrors: when their husbands would return exhausted from slave labor in Egypt, the women would fix them a meal and then bring them in front of the mirror. Teasingly, seductively, they would say, "I'm prettier than you!" This would entice the men to have relations with their wives, and produce a new generation of Jews. Thus, the rather strange term "mar'ot ha'tzvaot" - "the mirrors of the legions", who were ultimately produced by this act.

Moshe was reluctant to accept the mirrors, for he felt they were associated with the Yetzer Hara, with lust. But Hashem overruled Moshe, telling him these mirrors were very precious symbols of pure holiness.

Why repeat the description of the Mishkan? Between the first account of the holy objects (in Parshat Teruma) and our current one, comes the incident of the Golden Calf. Bnei Yisrael sin, but they also indicate that they are desirous of a spiritual path that inspires excitement, passion, desire. They do not want to simply go through the motions, to follow some rote, mechanical faith system. They want a religion that stirs the blood.

This is the symbolism of the laver. It sends a message that the hands being washed must act with enthusiasm and energy; that the feet being washed must move with alacrity and spirit to do the will of G-d. The Kohanim must demonstrate a passion for their service, if it is to have any real impact on the nation. So must all the objects in the Mishkan engender zeal, fervor, joy and meaning. Moshe reiterates the objects in the Mishkan for he has learned something profound, something he didn't realize before, about their intrinsic nature.

Our own conduct as Jews must "mirror" the lesson of the righteous women, and "reflect" their drive and relentless passion to believe in G-d, to love G-d and to totally commit to doing whatever it takes to further the fortunes of Am Yisrael.
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Rabbi Weiss is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra?anana.

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