are the most precious of gifts
The Torah specifies that the Wash Basin in the Mishkan was
made of copper taken from the mirrors that the women brought as
donations. Rashi explains that by telling us where the copper
came from, the Torah is teaching a significant lesson.
Moshe Rabbenu was appalled by the idea of using mirrors in the
Mishkan because they were used to enhance a woman’s beauty,
which is a source of Yetzer Ha’Rah. Yet HASHEM said that not
only should they be used, they were the most precious of all the
items that were donated. In fact, the very reason HASHEM
wanted them to be used in the Mishkan was that the women used
them to beautify themselves and attract their husbands.
How could Moshe Rabbenu have been so
The difficulty with this Rashi is how could
Moshe Rabbenu have
been so mistaken? Chazal tell us he was the greatest human who
ever existed. For forty days, he lived like a Moloch -- without
food, drink, or sleep -- and learned the entire Torah. Yet he
looked at these mirrors with disgust until HASHEM told him that
they were actually the most precious gift given. How is it
possible that Moshe was so off in his understanding?
Girls are different
The answer to this question can be found by watching little
children at play in the local public school yard. The girls will be
off on one side of the yard playing jump rope or hopscotch, while
the boys will be off to the other side playing tag or touch football.
Even though the classes are mixed, in play it is rare to find boys
and girls together.
The reason for this is that boys and girls are different. They have
different interests, desires, and value systems. They are different
in the way that they behave, relate to each other, and
communicate. In fact, boys and girls are so different that you
would almost assume they come from different cultures, maybe
even different planets. It isn’t that they are socialized or trained
differently; it is that their inner makeup is fundamentally
As an example, studies show that when asked “Who is your best
friend?” three-year-old boys are as likely to name a girl as their
best friend as they are a boy. At that age, mixed gender
friendships are quite common. Yet, by the time this same group
of children is 5 years old, only 20% will have a best friend from
the opposite gender. By the time that they are seven, it is almost
nonexistent for a boy to have a best friend who is girl, or for a
girl to have a best friend who is a boy -- because by then they
have almost nothing in common.
This separation and disinterest continues until puberty when
something remarkable happens: the boys become very interested
in the girls, and the girls become very interested in the boys. It
isn’t that their differences have disappeared. Quite the opposite,
they are even stronger now, but there are powerful forces
developing within them that pull them to each other – attraction
HASHEM create this state of infatuation?
HASHEM created these entities so that man and woman could
marry. If it weren’t for these forces, a successful marriage would
never exist. To ask two individuals, vastly different in nature,
outlook, and temperament to live as one would never happen – it
would be impossible.
To allow man and woman to create a successful union,
HASHEM put various forces into the person – attraction and
infatuation are some of them. They are very powerful, so
powerful that they can pull together two opposites and bring
them together in harmony, peace, and love. However, as
powerful tools, they can also easily be misdirected and misused.
The answer to the question on Moshe Rabbenu seems to be that
he was fully aware of the powerful force of attraction and the pull
that it exerts. What he wasn’t aware of was the purity of the
women who donated the mirrors. HASHEM told him that these
women were different. They used their beauty only for its
intended purpose -- to attract their husbands to them. These
mirrors had become holy as they had been used to strengthen the
bond of love and devotion between husband and wife. The
children brought forth from such a union were pure and exalted;
therefore, these mirrors were the most precious of all the
understanding in our times
This concept has great relevance in our times. We live
in an age
when the very social fabric of society seems to be tearing apart at
the seams. With divorce rates in the Western World hovering at
50%, the concept of raising children in a stable home seems to be
a relic of the past.
One of the causes of this breakdown is the misuse of the very
system that HASHEM put into man to allow him to flourish.
Attraction and infatuation are tools that, when used properly,
allow a husband and wife to achieve harmony, tranquility, and
peace. However, when misused, these forces no longer
accomplish their intended purpose and the couple themselves
suffers—never quite understanding why their marriage doesn’t
Understanding the purpose and proper use of these forces that
HASHEM created is one of the keys to living a successful life.
For more on this topic
please listen to Shmuz
#99 - Men