Double Mitzvah – Vayakhel

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by Rabbi Moshe Trepp. Rabbi Trepp is the campus Rabbi at the University of Texas, and is known for his openness in tackling and discussing difficult and sometimes misunderstood or taboo subjects in his well-attended Jewish Learning fellowships. He has a special understanding and unique connection to individuals just beginning their spiritual journeys, and for this reason students find themselves naturally attracted to him and to his teachings. The bulk of his time is spent going from one coffee shop to another meeting and studying one-on-one.

Rabbi Trepp is a native of England, and moved from Israel to Austin in 2006. Together with his wife Faigy and their four children, Rabbi Trepp welcomes countless students to his home for weekly Shabbat meals, and before people know it they have become part of the Trepp extended family.

Check out last week’s column, Double Mitzvah – Ki Tissa.

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Passionate love as a gift to God is the most precious love of all

“He [Betzalel] made the copper washstand and its copper base out of the mirrors of the dedicated women who congregated at the entrance of the Communion Tent” (Exodus 38:8)

The Torah specifies that the wash basin in the Tabernacle was made of copper taken from the mirrors that the women brought as donations. Rashi explains that by telling us where the copper came from the Torah is teaching a significant lesson.

Moshe was reluctant to use these mirrors in the Tabernacle because they were used to incite lust. Yet Hashem said that not only should they be used, they were the most precious of all the items that were donated. In fact, the very reason Hashem wanted them to be used in the Tabernacle was that the women used the mirrors to beautify themselves and attract their husbands.

With this, Rashi leaves us to wonder: how could Moshe have been so mistaken? Our sages tell us he was the greatest human who ever existed. Yet he looked at these mirrors with disgust until Hashem told him that they were actually the most precious gift given. How is it possible that Moshe was so off in his understanding?

The reason for this is that boys and girls are different. They have different interests, desires, and value systems. They are different in the way that they behave, relate to each other, and communicate. It isn’t that they are socialized or trained differently; it is that their inner makeup is fundamentally different.

To allow man and woman to create a successful union, HASHEM put various forces into the person, and attraction and infatuation are two of them. They are very powerful, so powerful that they can pull together opposites and bring them together in harmony, peace, and love. However, as powerful tools, they can also easily be misdirected and misused.

The answer to the question on Moshe seems to be that he was fully aware of the powerful force of attraction and the pull that it exerts. What he wasn’t aware of was the purity of the women who
donated the mirrors. HASHEM told him that these women were different. They used their beauty only for its intended purpose – to attract their husbands. These mirrors had become holy as they had been used to strengthen the bond of love and devotion between husband and wife. The children brought forth from such a union were pure and exalted; therefore, these mirrors were the most precious of all the donations.

Moshe believed that closeness to Hashem is about celibacy and purity. Hashem taught him otherwise, that passionate love, when offered as a gift to Hashem, is the most precious love of all. When the women offered Hashem the mirrors through which they aroused their husbands’ love in the dark days of Egypt, God told Moses, “These are more precious to Me than anything else.” The women understood, better than the men, what it means to love God “with all your heart and all your soul and all your might.”

Attraction and infatuation are tools that, when used properly, allow a husband and wife to achieve
harmony, tranquility, and peace. However, when misused, these forces no longer accomplish their intended purpose, and the couple suffers — never quite understanding why their marriage doesn’t work anymore.

Understanding the purpose and proper use of these forces that Hashem created is one of the keys to living a happy and successful life.

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