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Parashat Vayak’hel – Finding Meaning in the Mundane


The copper washbasin that was placed at the entrance to the tent of meeting, from which the priests would wash, was fashioned from the mirrors of the women.


Our sages comment that Moshe initially refused to accept the copper mirrors because he mistakenly felt that since they were used by the women to apply their cosmetics they should have no place in the holy sanctuary.


Instead G-d told Moses “These are more precious to me than all the other gifts, because it was by means of these mirrors, whereby the Jewish women beautified themselves, that the nation increased during the Egyptian captivity.” The men who were exhausted by hard labor and crushed in spirit had lost any desire for family life, and it was through their wives actions that the nation multiplied.


The Torah is a guide for living in the reality of the real world. Indeed, the Talmud records that when Moses ascended on Har Sinai to receive the Torah, the ministering angels said before the Holy One: “Master of the Universe, what is one born of a woman doing here among us?” The Holy One said to them: “He came to receive the Torah.” The angels said before Him: “The Torah is a hidden treasure and you seek to give it to flesh and blood? The rightful place of G-d’s majesty, the Torah, is in the heavens!”

Then G-d turned to Moses and said: “Provide them with an answer as to why the Torah should be given to the people.” Moses said before Him: “Master of the Universe, the Torah that You are giving me, what is written in it?” G-d said to him: “I am the Lord your G-d Who brought you out of Egypt from the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). Moses said to the angels: “Did you descend to Egypt? Were you enslaved to Pharaoh? Why should the Torah be yours?” Again Moses asked: “What else is written in it?” “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). Moses asked the angels: “Do you have a father or a mother that would render the commandment to honor them relevant to you?” Again Moses asked: “What else is written in it?” G-d said to him: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal.” Moses asked the angels: “Is there jealousy among you that would render these commandments relevant? “To that the angels acquiesced.


The Torah is the path to finding purpose and meaning in a seemingly mundane world and that is why  G-d cherished the mirrors above all else. Because the highest degree of sanctity and holiness is when the mundane and physical aspects of living are elevated and are transformed into the spiritual and sacred.