Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Copper Mirrors and the Copper Kiyyor

In this week's parsha, Vayakhel, we see that (Shemos 38:8) "He made the Kiyyor of copper and its pedestal of copper with the mirrors of the women who congregated at the entrance of the tent of the meeting." The question here is, why was the kiyyor made with the mirrors? The parsha tells us there was a surplus of materials, yet the kiyyor was made from the women's mirror's? First of all, Rav Moshe Feinstein points out that the kiyyor is very important because most other vessels were purified through the kiyyor. Also, how can you use a vessel, like a mirror, that is used for such a physical thing, like making yourself look good, for the holy temple?

Rashi comes to tell us that Moshe, at first, did not accept the women's donation of the mirrors because he thought they were an inappropriate contribution for the previously stated reason. However, G-D commanded Moshe to accept them. Why? Because it was through these mirrors that the Jewish people were able to be fruitful and multiplied. As the famous Midrash tells us, the women would make themselves look enticing for their husbands after their hard day working as slaves for the Egyptians. This caused the exhausted men to lust after their wives, even though they were exhausted, and more babies were born because of this. Thus, we see that even things that seem unholy can be used and treated as holy objects if the intent behind the use of those objects is holy.

There is at least one other time when an object that is, seemingly, unholy but it is given a holy status. This is the sword of Goliath that David won after killing him. In the book of Samuel 1 (21) when David goes to the city of Nob, where the Mishkan was located, he requests a weapon. The priest tells him "The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod." Why was it located in such a holy place? Behind the Ephod is surly no place for a weapon, especially one that has been used to kill. This teaches the same lesson as the copper mirrors. Obviously, David only used the sword to kill and protect people for the sake of G-D and the Jewish people. He did not kill because he enjoyed killing, or for his own glory. David was completely devoted to G-D and tried his best to follow in the ways of G-D. Therefore, his sword was considered holy because he killed Goliath for G-D and Israel's sake. As the verse tells us (Samuel I 17:26), "And David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying: 'What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the taunt from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should have taunted the armies of the living God?" David wanted someone to stand up for G-D and the Jewish people.

Both Goliath's sword being behind the Ephod and the copper mirrors being used for the kiyyor teach us a very valuable lesson. Anyone can make anything into something holy all that really matters is the intentions a person has when performing that action. Killing and sexual relations are usually considered to be the most base and non-spiritualistic actions a person can do, but even these actions can be elevated to something holy depending on the intentions behind them. If a person is fighting to defend the Jewish people there is nothing more holy than that. If someone has the intention to go out of their way in order to perpetuate the Jewish nation, that is a great act. Almost anything can be turned into something great based on the intentions behind the actions. The right intentions can bring along with them true holiness.

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