The copper mirrors


One of the most fascinating midrashiem about women in the Talmud  for me is the midrash about the copper mirrors of the women. A midrash is a story that can give an explanation and insight in a text from the bible. The midrash about the copper mirrors of the women is a story that is happening in the time of the slavery of the people of Israel in Egypt. The slavery and oppression of the people was extremely harsh. The women acted very powerful and their deeds were full of faith and love for their God.

While the men were doing incredible heavy work during the daytime they were driven out of the city late in the afternoon to start very dirty work in the fields. Pharao’s goal was to exterminate the people of Israel by giving them no space to be together as man and wife in order that the people would not multiply and in that way they would die out. The history of the Jewish People is full of these efforts to exterminate the Jewish People. We know however from the text in the Bible in Ex.1:12 that the more oppression came on Israel the more the people multiplied. How was this possible?

This is the story of the copper mirrors: In the evening the women took food, oil and clean clothes for their husbands and when it was dark, they went to their husbands to feed and wash them and after that massage their backs and feet.  When they felt better and less depressed because of their horrible worksituation, their wifes let them look in the mirrors that they brought along. They also looked in the mirror together and they told them how good they were looking so together in that mirror. In that way their husband forgot their misery and longed for their wifes to lay with them.

Because of this the women became pregnant all the time and this is the explanation why they multiplied even under these terrible circumstances. When Israel was set free from this slavery by the Lord because of Moses leading them out of Egypt and they were in the desert and the Tabernacle was being made it were the women who brought their copper mirrors as an offer for the Tabernacle. Moses was embarrased at first and thought that the Lord would refuse these mirrors because they were used for vanity.
But the Lord told Moses: these mirrors are very precious to Me and you should accept them to be used for the making of the copper washbasin of the Tabernacle (Ex.38:8). So the Lord showed how much He loved the women of Israel and their faithfulness and deep loving actions to save their people in these terrible times that were now the past. They were righteous women that acted out of faith and they were “eshet chayil” or “strong women”. Also we are called to be strong and do deeds that have eternal value.