"The L-rd spoke to Moses, saying: "You shall make a kiyor [washstand] of copper… and you shall put water therein. Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and feet from it. When they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die; or when they approach the altar to serve" (Exodus 30:17-20).

The kiyor was fashioned from copper mirrors donated by the Israelite women. The Midrash relates that originally Moses rejected the notion of using these mirrors for the Tabernacle. As a deeply spiritual person who maintained a "healthy" disdain for materialism and all its trappings, Moses was reluctant to accept items whose ostensible purpose is to inspire temptation and lustful thoughts.

Moses was reluctant to accept items whose ostensible purpose is to inspire temptation and lustful thoughtsG‑d, however, instructed Moses to accept these contributions. "These," G‑d said, "are more precious to Me than anything. Through them the women set up many legions [of children] in Egypt." When their husbands were weary from back-breaking labor, and obviously not romantically inclined, the wives would go and bring them food and drink. After the husband was fed and relaxed, the woman would take out her mirror and seduce him, saying, "Look, I am more beautiful than you." Thus the husband's desire was aroused, and the ensuing intimacy led to the birth of multitudes of Jewish children. From these special mirrors the washstand was made.

These mirrors were in fact so dear to G‑d that He instructed Moses to include every one which was donated in the kiyor. Every vessel in the Tabernacle had exact prescribed dimensions—except for the kiyor. The kiyor was to be as large as necessary to accommodate all the treasured mirrors which were donated!

Precious as they were, why did G‑d choose to use these mirrors specifically for the construction the kiyor? Of all the Tabernacle's vessels, why was the washbasin chosen to display these prized mirrors?

The washing of the hands before the commencement of service in the Tabernacle is symbolic of the preparatory purification process required for any individual who wants to earnestly serve G‑d. The mirrors provide a vital component of this process.

The person who wants to be holy must bear in mind that not everything which seems holy is in fact so; and not everything which appears to be mundane is in fact unholy. For example, an act which seems holy and pure, but causes a rift between two Jews must be very closely examined to ascertain that it is in fact appropriate and stems from proper motivations. By far the most popular example of such an instance is when a person feels a "holy" need to rebuke others for their apparently improper deeds. All too often, this is a result of "holier than thou" ego—with no link to G‑d or holiness whatsoever.

The same is true in reverse. When used to bring together husband and wife in holy union, even the mirror becomes holy and so dear in G‑d's eyes.