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Rabbi Yossi's Blog

Welcome to Rabbi Yossi's Blog; where you can expect to find thoughts on current events, Torah learning and Jewish spirituality. And of course, some good Jewish humor.

Meaning in Mirrors

Coin Jar.jpg 

As a fundraiser, I can tell you that sometimes you need to be able to say “No!”. Cash donations are always helpful, they can be used to cover an organization's budget or used to underwrite a special project. But “In Kind” donations can sometimes be a little sticky. Yes, someone’s expertise in a particular field can be extremely helpful, as valuable used items can often be too.

But then there are the dreaded donations of items that the donor simply can’t bring themselves to discard, like great-grandma’s wedding dress or baby toys and books from their now married child; even given the significant sentimental value of these items, accepting these items often cause more headache and expense to the organization than benefit.

It’s not surprising then that Moses initially balked when his call for donations for the construction of the Tabernacle was enthusiastically heeded by women who donated their old copper mirrors. I wouldn’t be surprised if his initial thought was, “Really? Seriously!? Your old mirrors?!”

The commentaries tell us that Moses’ hesitation was actually based on something more significant than wondering what to do with thousands of old mirrors. (After all, they were made of copper which was one of the needed construction materials…)

A common issue raised by religious leaders is often the superficiality with which so many lead their lives. The motivation to be attractive and alluring often plays right into the theme as well. And sensuality and sexuality are never far behind either.

It’s no surprise therefore that when Moses saw the mirrors he was reluctant to accept them. The Tabernacle was to be a beacon of sanctity and elevation, not a shrine of vanity. How would these mirrors fit with the intended effect of the structure he was building?

However, despite Moses’ misgivings, G-d instructed him to accept them. They were given with sincerity and during the Egyptian exile had actually been used for positive ends. The women had used them to enhance their appearance in order to be attractive to their husbands. And not for superficial and selfish motivation either; their singular intention was in order to be able to give birth to, and raise, a new generation.

The sincerity with which the mirrors had been used, and the wholeheartedness with which they were donated, had elevated these usually superficial items into material worthy of being used in the sanctuary of G-d. In fact, the source of the material used to create the Kohen’s washing station - the very first step in the daily Temple service, were these same copper mirrors donated by the women.

Many people excuse themselves from getting in on the worldwide project of elevating the global consciousness and making this world a G-dly abode by telling themselves that they are not worthy. My typical physical life is without spiritual value that I can contribute. This story tells us otherwise; even items typically used for superficial purposes can be made holy. Everything in our lives can be transformed to holiness too.

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