14 Mar VAYAKEL/PEKUDEI: FINDING THE GEAR YOU NEVER KNEW EXISTED
One of the features of the Mishkan which Beneh Yisrael built in the desert was the kiyor – the special faucet which stood by the entrance to the Mishkan.The kohanim would use it to wash themselves before entering the Mishkan to serve.The Torah tells us that the kiyor was made from mirrors which the women donated.The Midrash explains that these mirrors were considered very special, because they were used by the women to adorn themselves for their husbands during the period of slavery in Egypt, helping ensuring the survival and growth of the Jewish Nation.The Gemara in Masechet Sotah elaborates further on the women’s role in Egypt.Their husbands were physically and emotionally broken by their labor, and the women helped them by preparing them food, bringing them water for bathing, and adorning themselves for them.The women thus bore more children, who were miraculously saved from Pharaoh’s decree of death, and this is how the nation survived.The Gemara makes the very strong statement that it was because of the righteous women that the Jewish Nation was redeemed from Egypt.Under those dreadful conditions, the women could have very easily given up.They could’ve just said, “I’ve had it.It’s just too much.”Seeing their husbands dirty, exhausted, depressed and in constant pain, the women could’ve just given up.But they didn’t.The women reached higher.They dug deep and found reservoirs of strength they didn’t even know they had.They found a gear they didn’t even know existed.And they used this strength to help their husbands and keep their families intact.This is why their mirrors were used specifically for the kiyor. Before a kohen entered the Mishkan to serve, he was told, “If you’re serving as a leader, as an inspiring figure – you need to have special strength!!”A person in this position can’t fall apart when the going gets rough. He needs to follow the inspiring example of the women in Egypt, and find that higher gear.One of the berachot we recite each morning is מעפעפי– המעביר שנה מעיני -ותנומה Hashem “who removes sleep from my eyes and weariness from my eyelids.”This likely refers not only to Hashem’s allowing us to wake up in the morning, but to His allowing us to shake off our “weariness,” His enabling us to find the inner strength that we need to meet our challenges each day and do great things.Let us learn from the remarkable example of Jewish women in Egypt, and, when necessary, reach back for that little extra, to find that special gear we need to bring ourselves and our families to ever greater heights!!