3/17/2007

The Women who Congregated

And he made the bronze laver and its bronze base from the mirrors of the [female] congregators, who congregated at the doorway of the ‘Ohel Mo’ed. (Shemot 38:8)

And Eli was old, and he heard what his sons had done to all of Israel, and how they slept with the women who congregated at the doorway of the ‘Ohel Mo’ed’. (I Samuel 2:22)

I’m fairly certain that this group of women, the ‘tzov’ot’ is only mentioned in these two places in TaNach. The connection seems clear: this was a group of dedicated and religious women who stayed as close to God’s precincts as they could. They wanted to give what they could and even gave up on earthly vanities (symbolized by the mirrors – according to Midrash, the same mirrors they used to beautify themselves to allure their husbands in Egypt) in order to be close to God.

Tragically, members of the religious establishment took advantage of their naiveté (without getting into the discussion of what the bnei Eli actually did) for their own advantage. See here and here for more on the sons of Eli and their milieu).

Unfortunately, it does not seem to be uncommon that religious leaders take advantage of their congregants’ naïve devotion for their own purposes. This is true of Judaism and other religious communities. Power tends to corrupt.

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