Vayakhel Pekudei by Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס"ד
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And He Made the Copper Laver by the Mirrors of the Women
In continuation of our study on the washing of hands and feet in the Temple, this week we will discuss the Copper Laver itself from which this washing was conducted. One of the more peculiar verses in this parsha can be found in the description of the making of this Laver: “And He Made the Copper Laver by the Mirrors of the Women etc.” Rashi explains this verse: “The Israelitish women possessed mirrors of copper into which they used to look when they adorned themselves. Even these did they not hesitate to bring as a contribution towards the Tabernacle. Now Moshe was about to reject them since they were made to pander to their vanity, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “Accept them; these are dearer to Me than all the other contributions because through them the women reared those huge hosts in Egypt!” For when their husbands were tired through the crushing labour they used to bring them food and drink and induced them to eat. Then they would take the mirrors, and each gazed at herself in her mirror together with her husband, saying endearingly to him, “See, I am handsomer than you!” Thus they awakened their husbands’ affection and subsequently became the mothers of many children…And it was for this reason that the Sotah would drink from the water of this Laver so that peace would be brought between husband and wife [after the ordeal of the Sotah].”
Here we should note that the women’s looking at a mirror with their husbands seems to elude to very deep concepts, Kabbalistically speaking, that are called “direct light” (or yashar) and “reflected light” (or hozer). “Direct light” (or yashar) is associated with the masculine, while “reflected light” (or hozer) is associated with the feminine. Mirrors themselves represent the turning of direct light into reflected light. Therefore, when the women took the mirrors to show themselves together with their husbands they were essentially evoking their union not only by an external image but also by internal essence and a “harmonization of lights, direct and reflected.” The women’s saying “See, I am handsomer than you!” also represents this union in a deep way. The word for “handsomer” in the original Hebrew is “na’ah,” used especially in regard to external beauty. Our Sages use this term in homiletically interpreting the term in the Song of the Sea “this is my God, and I shall glorify – “anvehu” – Him.” The Sages say that this term teaches us that one should glorify the mitzvot by not only their internal beauty, but also by their external beauty – “hitnaeh lefanav bemitzvot” – “make the mitzvot you do also externally beautiful before God.” God does not “need” this externality, but rather God is called the King of Honor, and it is befitting for us to honor Him through mitzvot of beauty and honor. They add that this verse also indicates the service of God in His Abode/House called in Hebrew a “naveh.”When the women told their husbands that there are “handsomer” they hinted at this deep concept, since our Sages call the woman the ultimate “home/abode” of a man, and by indicating such she indicated to her husband the aforementioned concepts related to “na’ah,” thereby showing how he needs her for his completion, bringing to their unity.
We find that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs and Moshe Rabeinu and Tzipora were enjoined at the place of drawing water, i.e a well. This matter fits perfectly with the identification of the Laver, from which water was drawn, as representing the unity between husband and wife. We mentioned last week also the hands of the priests washed as representing the “masculine – giving,” and their feet washed representing the “feminine – receiving.” Moreover, Kabbalistically speaking the term “tzovot” mentioned in our title quote in regard to the women standing before the Mishkan highly resembles God’s Name “Tzvaot” meaning the “Lord of Legions.” This means that through these women’s desire to unite with their husbands and bear offspring they were also part of magnifying God’s Name that is attached with this offspring, i.e “legions.” Indeed, the Kabbalists tie the Laver [“Kior”] and its Base [“Kano”] to the sefirot of netzach and hod, which are associated with the Name of Tzvaot. Also, the Zohar says that the masculine aspect is in netzach and the feminine aspect is in hod.
Therefore, we may say that when the Laver and its Base are placed one on top the other, this also represents the union of husband and wife. Why is this union hinted at by the Laver of water and well of water in regard to our Patriarchs and Matriarchs? As we explained before, water represents the attribute of kindness. We may say that in order for a Jewish household to exist with the proper union of husband and wife, kindness is a primary necessity. This means that kindness, an attribute strongly identified with “love” by the Kabbalists, should be prevalent between the couple, meaning also that they should appease each other “beyond the letter of the law.”
Hebron exemplifies these concepts beautifully: Within Hebron is the Cave of Couples, called Machpela – “doubled/coupled, which houses our Patriarchs and Matriarchs upon it is said “He remembers the kindness of our Patriarchs and brings a redeemer for their descendants for His Namesake with love.”
When I spoke to Dr. Sodi, he recalled the astonishing and painful events in Gush Katif in minute detail … He told me about incredible cases of bullets penetrating the body and exiting while causing minimal damage or none at all … I realize that this is miraculous, but I don’t grasp how much so. Dr. Sodi explains that such things are almost impossible … But in Gush Katif, the world works differently … Even Dr. Sodi, who is surrounded by miracles, is shocked and amazed. The emotions are stirred up, inter alia, by lingering on those aspects of the “miracle” that have an extremely low probability rate. “I saw where the bullet entered the shoulder and exited from the back … It went through the body, but did no damage. Absolutely incredible!! ‘I’ll show you pictures of the bullet holes if you’re interested,’ he said. ‘You photographed them?’ ‘Of course. It’s a medical miracle. I show them to all my medical colleagues so they can see for themselves. Cases like these are so rare in the literature. A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to miracles.'”