Parshas Vayakhel: Holy Mirrors

ויעש את הכיור נחשת ואת כנו נחשת במראת הצבאת אשר צבאו פתח אהל מועד (לח:ח)

 And he made the Laver of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of the legions who massed at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting (38:8) 

The Kiyor was a very large copper basin in the courtyard of the mishkan which was used by the kohanim to wash their hands and feet before performing the avodah. The copper did not come from the regular contributions of copper, as we see later that the kiyor was omitted from the list of items made from copper. The passuk tells us that the copper came from the mirrors that the women brought to the entrance of the Ohel Moed. Rashi explains that Moshe was reluctant to utilize these mirrors for the mishkan because a mirror is an item that can be used to awaken the yeitzer hara, and as such, has no place in the mishkan. HaShem told Moshe that he was wrong, because these mirrors were actually instrumental in the survival of Klal Yisroel. The men would come home from a day of backbreaking slave labor, too exhausted to even think of their wives. The women used their mirrors to beautify themselves, thus enticing their husbands to continue normal family life and have more children, guaranteeing the continuity of Klal Yisroel.

If we look at the words of the possuk, the mirrors are called maros hatzovos, mirrors of the legions. We find in Sefer Shmuel that when Chana davened to HaShem to have a child, she referred to HaShem as HaShem Tzeva-os. The gemara in Masechta Brochos (31b) tells us that this was the very first time that anyone had addressed HaShem by this name. This reference to HaShem can be understood as follows: Chana was childless for 19 years. She did not even have a womb with which to hold a child. Each year she would plead with HaShem to have a child. Finally, HaShem granted her request. But what exactly was her request? Chana told HaShem that she was not looking for a child to coddle. She wasn’t looking for a child to show off to others. She had no interest in play dates and birthday parties, even if this was what the other “normal” mothers were doing. Chana wanted one thing, and one thing only. She wanted more than anything else in the world to give birth to a child who would be a soldier in HaShem’s military; one that would fight the Aibishter’s battles. So much so that she even promised to give away the child to be raised in the mishkan- an action that a “normal” mother would never do.

Could Chana really expect to change the laws of nature just so that she can be like everyone else? Of course she was allowed to ask for that, but Chazal tell us that she actually spoke harshly to HaShem, demanding a child. Clearly, she did not have herself in mind. She was making her request for HaShem’s sake. Such a special request! HaShem accepted it and a son, who she named Shmuel, was born to her. Sure enough, at two years of age, little Shmuel was given over to Eili HaKohen to raise. Ultimately Shmuel would lead Klal Yisroel and anoint its’ first two kings.

We can suggest that the conversation in Mitzrayim between the husbands and wives was of a similar nature. The wives said that they were ready to have more children, to which the husbands responded in shock that at such a time they would want to have more children. The women answered that if in fact the purpose of having children is just to have another show-piece that one can rant and rave about, it is true, now is the wrong time. However, they explained, the purpose is to add soldiers to the Tzivos HaShem- army of HaShem. In the darkest times more than at any other time, the Army needs soldiers. With this in mind, the husbands acquiesced, making way for the future of Klal Yisroel.

These actions were so chashuv in the “eyes” of HaShem that when the mirrors were brought to Moshe, HaShem said to include them. It is interesting to note that the Torah does not give a specific size for the kiyor. The Ibn Ezra explains that HaShem considered each mirror so heilig, that each and every mirror was required to go into it, no matter how big the kiyor would become.

As parents, we must take note of the noble intentions of these choshuva women, never losing sight for a moment of the real tachlis of raising children. Our children are the future of Klal Yisroel. Let us do our part to make sure that they are worthy of being counted into the Army of HaShem.  Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל