Table Talk: Vayakhel Print

ParshaFeminism in the Mishkan: The Maharal asks: The Torah tells us that the women brought many personal modesty items that were accepted for the Mishkan. Later on regarding the mirrors they brought for the Laver, Rashi comments that Moshe “was disgusted,” until God told him that they were holy and should be used. Why would Moshe only have an issue with the mirrors? How does Rashi know from the text that Moshe originally rejected the mirrors? “He made the Kiyor of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of the legions (of women) who massed at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 38:8).” Why did the women mass to donate their mirrors? Had not the people already gathered “more than enough (36:4)” supplies for the Mishkan? The verse seems to describe some type of rally or protest, which may have led to Moshe’s resistance. (Targum describes the gathering as a “Prayer Protest!” - interesting that it is not a Prayer Gathering of people who needed money, but to give money!) The verse does not describe them as “Uplifted by their hearts.” This was something else: What was the purpose of the rally? Please consider the following: They seem to be rallying for one item in the Mishkan to represent women and their role in creating the merit that allowed for redemption from Egypt.

Mirrors of Identity:
Rashi (38:8): When their husbands were exhausted from their heavy work - Avodas Perach - for the Egyptians, they would bring them food and drink and feed them. They would then take their mirrors and would look in the mirror with their husbands and would say, “I am more beautiful than you.” What was “Avodas Perach?” The men were forced to perform women’s work. The men ceased to see themselves as men. They lost their identity. They stopped functioning as men. The women would look in the mirrors and say, “I am the more beautiful. I am the woman. Now you must be a man despite the work that the Egyptians force you to do.” The women used the mirrors to reconnect their husbands to being men. Why would these mirrors be specifically used for the Kiyor?

Did You Run?:
“The leaders brought the shoham stones and the stones for the settings of the Ephod and the Breastplate (35:27).” The Targum Yerushalmi explains that the leaders grabbed the clouds from the “Nesi’im,” meaning, Clouds. Rashi seems to take a different approach. He points out that the letter “Yud” is missing from “the leaders” because they  delayed bringing their gifts. Why the letter “Yud?” We can compare this to a Talmudic teaching that: The main reward for attending the Rabbi’s lecture is the running to the lecture.” Rashi explains that most people will not understand the lecture, but, despite that they run to attend. They are honoring something greater even if inaccessible. We can apply this dictum to our verse: The Leaders grabbed the precious stones from the clouds, from “on-high,” from a greater place. If a person truly appreciates that he is reaching far above his current status; he should run, not delay. The leaders delayed. For Discussion: Is there one area in my Service of God to which I run? Do I rush even when I feel that I do not fully understand what’s going on?