When the Torah describes how the water basin of the Tabernacle was made from “mirrors of the women” (38:8), Rashi provides the back-story: In Egypt, the Jewish men were exhausted from work and too tired for their wives, which resulted in less children. The women -knowing that this wasn’t an option- decided to entice their husbands using their reflections in the mirror. These very mirrors, which could represent a focus on one’s physical self, were used for the noble cause of perpetuating the Jewish people.
How did the mirrors accomplish this? There may be other interpretations, but one in particular shows a valuable message. Perhaps the “enticement” was simply that the couple, looking at themselves together, remembered why it was that they came together; that their original commitments to each other were rooted in building a family. This “view” of themselves motivated them to continue that mission. It was the picture of their previous selves which served as a reminder to fulfill what they once set out as a value.
Too often we set goals and aspirations but get “distracted” by the busy-ness of life. Our past possessions can serve as reminders: A wedding picture on a wall; an old book on the shelf; the prayer books in the attic; the album of your trip to Israel; a donation receipt of a charity fund. When looked at in this way, mementos can be a powerful tool for growth, just like the mirrors. It’s true- hoarding may cause a cluttered mess… but it can also provide some refreshing inspiration.