Thursday, February 17, 2011

Is it OK to be beautiful?

Is it OK to be beautiful?
The Tabernacle or Mishkan, the portable temple the Children of Israel used in the wilderness, contained many different vessels, some of which are described in detail in the Torah. In this week’s Torah reading we learn about another of these vessels: “Make a copper wash basin and its copper base for washing”.
However, unlike all the other vessels we are not told any more details about how this one should be built and where the materials will come from. We have to wait until next week to be told the source of the copper, which will be taken from “the women’s mirrors.”
Rashi comments: The daughters of Israel possessed mirrors into which they would look when adorning themselves. Even those they did not withhold from bringing as a contribution for the mishkan. However, Moshe found them repulsive since their purpose is to incite the evil inclination.
G-d said to Moses: Accept them [the mirrors], for these are dearer to me than everything else because through them the women raised huge multitudes in Egypt. When their husbands were exhausted from their crushing labour the women would go and bring them food and drink and feed them. They would then take the mirrors and each one would look at herself and her husband in the mirror, and entice him with words, saying, "See! I am more beautiful than you," thereby awakening their husbands' desire and they would cohabit with them. They conceived and gave birth there.
To Moses this was repulsive: Beauty? Mirrors? Make-up? Romance? Perhaps this was due to his spiritual stature.
But to G-d this was most dear and most precious. The mishkan represented holy and spiritual being made to feel at home in the physical and corporeal world; allowing for the most selfish of motivations to become more divinely inclined.
The inclination to beauty, to romance and other things that may appear most physical should be experienced and in an enchanting way, albeit in a holy environment.
The magical lesson of the copper wash basin introduced in this week’s Torah reading is not to be afraid of past negative experiences with our “evil inclination” - when we use the copper basin to wash our hands we too become holy.
This to G-d is more precious than all the sacrifices and important tasks that were done in the Mishkan.
So go on and be beautiful.
Coincidently, this week we were blessed with two births at Saatchi, Mazal Tov to Ariel & Tanya Cohanim and Marc & Laura Needoff (boy). May we have many, many more.
Shabbat Shalom.

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