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"And HaShem spoke to Moses, saying: 'Make a laver of copper, and its base of copper, for washing; and place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and fill it with water. And Aaron and his sons will wash their hands and their feet from it; when they go into the tent of meeting, they will wash with water, so that they won't die; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to bring a fire-offering to HaShem; so they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they won't die; and it will be a statute to them forever, to him and to his children throughout their generations.'" (Exodus 30:17-21)

 

Click to pictures below.

 

THE FIRST OF THE SERVICE VESSELS to be employed each morning by the priests as they would wash their hands and feet in preparation for the daily Tamid offering in the Holy Temple, the copper laver, (kiyor nechoshet), has a remarkable history.

ACCORDING TO MIDRASH, when the children of Israel received the commandment in the desert to create the laver, Moses was inundated by donations of hundreds of polished copper mirrors being brought by the Israelite women. Moses, concerned that these apparent implements of vanity would become part of a holy vessel, thought to reject the generous gesture of the women. However, G-d intervened on behalf of the women and their copper mirrors. It seems that when the Jews were still enslaved in Egypt, as Pharaoh kept increasing the forced labor of the Jewish men, the men grew increasingly weary and despondent. The Jewish women, fearing for the future of their people, employed the following tactic: They would meet their men in the fields where they were working each day with a basket laden with food for lunch. As they sat together to eat, the wives would take out their copper mirrors and hold it up before them, and exclaim, "Look how beautiful I am!" In this manner they would revive their husband's spirits and encourage them to carry on.

AT THE PRESENT TIME THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE is involved in the production of a new copper laver, and the story of its manufacture also involves an inspiring tale of perseverance and fortitude. The Temple Institute was approached not long ago by an individual, (who wishes to remain anonymous), whose dream was to make a gift to the nation of Israel of one of the vessels to be used in the Holy Temple. It was agreed upon that his generous offer could best be put to use in the creation of a new kiyor nechoshet - copper laver. Although the Temple Institute previously fashioned a copper laver, patterned after the Second Temple copper laver of Ben Kattin, it struck all involved that an opportunity had presented itself to redesign and recreate the laver, taking full advantage of the latest production technology. Working plans were drafted and the search for a properly equipped manufacturer commenced.

MEANWHILE, THE SUMMER OF 2006 rolled around and war erupted between Israel and the terrorist Hizballah militia in Lebanon, on Israel's northern border. Northern Israel became the target for hundreds of missiles. The bombardment lasted for weeks. People were killed, and buildings were destroyed. Families and entire neighborhoods fled southward to safety. Needless to say, local businesses took a beating. One such business severely hit by the war and its aftermath was Buchbut Metal Industries, located in the city of Acco, minutes from the border with Lebanon. Because of the danger of missile attack their business remained shut for the duration of the war. Their modern, high tech plant remained physically intact, but silent. The future of their business uncertain, Moshe Buchbut and his son Eyal determined that they must do something. Taking council with their employees, they decided to take upon themselves a task of special significance. Perhaps that would cause a turnaround in their situation. Like the women of the midrash, they too reflected upon their gloomy situation, and decided that they would take their fate in their own hands, and pursue the promise of a better future.

IT WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME before the two dreams would meet: the dream of recreating the copper laver to be used in the Holy Temple, and the dream of the Buchbuts' to make an offering, as it were, from the work of their own hands, to Hashem. It might not be an exaggeration to say that the match was made in heaven. The design worked out by the Temple Institute for the new laver called for a sophisticated internal plumbing system within the laver itself that could simultaneously provide water to six priests. Also included were computer controlled thermostats and timers for heating the water for use during the week. Buchbut Metal Industries, which has manufactured missiles and satellites for Israel's defense and civilian needs was, needless to say, up to the task.

IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE that the laver also served as a prime example during the Second Temple, of the concept of hiddur mitzva - the beautification or improvement of a commandment. Whereas the copper laver constructed in the desert and used at the tabernacle consisted of two spigots at which the priests would wash their hands and feet, during the time of the Second Temple an enterprising priest by the name of Ben Kattin redesigned the laver to include twelve spigots, and a special reservoir that sat atop the laver, enabling the water to be stored overnight. The current improvements being made, designed to increase the ease and comfort of the priests using the laver, aptly follow in the tradition of Ben Kattin.

THE DIRECTOR OF THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE and Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, the Institute's founder, recently journeyed from Jerusalem to Acco in order to witness the progress being made on the copper laver. Not only were they delighted by the precision craftsmanship and obvious loving care being taken in the manufacture of the laver, as seen in these photographs, but they heard the following testimony of G-d's great love for those who involve themselves wholeheartedly in the performance of His commandments: As related by Moshe Buchbut and his son Eyal, ever since they began work on the copper laver their business began to pick up. As they have progressed with the laver, so has their business increased and flourished. Today they have recouped their losses and Buchbut Metal Industries continues to grow. They eloquently express their gratitude to G-d for His great loving kindness which He has showed them, and have voiced their fervent desire to remain connected to the copper laver even after its completion by transporting it to towns and cities all across Israel, to announce its completion and bring tidings of the Holy Temple, may we prove worthy of building it soon!

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