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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

White Linen, Turquoise Threads

Updated: Mar 14, 2023


Tucked into Parshat Vayakhel/Pekudei is a remarkable pasuk. Exodus 38:8 states, "He (B'tzalel) made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting." At the end of a lengthy and detailed description of the building of the mishkan, this pasuk describes women's role at the entrance to the Mishkan.

This pasuk merits interesting interpretations by Rashi and ibn Ezra. Each of these darshanim have explanations which describe why the valued copper mirrors of the Israelite women were accepted by God for making copper sinks for the Mishkan. Rashi postulates that these mirrors were part women enticing their husbands to be intimate in order to procreate, despite the dismal times they were all living through.

Ibn Ezra postulates that there were some women who gave up on beautifying themselves and gave up things like mirrors and life’s pleasures in order to devote their lives to God.

Later in Tanach we once again meet women who sit outside of the mishkan, when we read the story of Samuel.

It is puzzling to think if their role? Perhaps these women served some specific yet unnamed set of tasks as they sat outside of the Mishkan. We cannot know, as it was not explained, and eventually the women's role disappeared.

I've written this poem in sevens to remind us of the language of creation, which parallels the language to describe the building of the Mishkan. I have added an eighth verse to extend a measure beyond the full concept of seven. Wholeness plus one.

For the two minutes it takes to read this poem, I hope that you will wonder who these women were and what it must have been like for them to sit outside of the Mishkan day after day. What did they wear? What did they do during this time? Did they greet? Did they pray? So, read on and let us paint a subtle picture of the women in White Linen with Turquoise Threads.





White Linen, Turquoise Threads


White linen

Turquoise threads

Veiled eyes

Soft earlobes

Feathered lashes

Lowered head

Seated softly


One Woman


White linen

Turquoise threads

Shrouded feet

Squared shoulders

Plaited hair

Pared nails

Folded hands


Two Women


White linen

Turquoise threads

Early morning

Gates open

Murmured whispers

Shimmering breezes

Spices smoking


Three Women


White linen

Turquoise threads

Seated soundlessly

Palms open

Fingers beckon

Chins lifting

Spines bending


Four Women


White linen

Turquoise threads

Early morning

Figures approaching

Murmured whispers

Shimmering breezes

Spices roasting


Five Women


White linen

Turquoise threads

Copper basins

Polished wood

Gold gleaming

Bells tinkling

Figures gliding


Six Women


White linen

Turquoise threads

Sweat beading

Heads lifting

Silent chanting

Lips parting

Voices rising


Seven Women


White linen

Turquoise threads

Moon glowing.

Weight shifting

Gently rising

Heart filling

Sleep descending


Shechina hovering.






Listen to White Linen, Turquoise Threads



וַיַּ֗עַשׂ אֵ֚ת הַכִּיּ֣וֹר נְחֹ֔שֶׁת וְאֵ֖ת כַּנּ֣וֹ נְחֹ֑שֶׁת בְּמַרְאֹת֙ הַצֹּ֣בְאֹ֔ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר צָֽבְא֔וּ פֶּ֖תַח אֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵֽד׃ {ס} He made the laver of copper and its stand of copper, from the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.


Exodus 38:8 Translation from Sefaria-














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