Exodus 30:17

One of those things about religion that makes me go: “Get this, u guise!”.

(By religion I pretty much mean “Judaism”. Judaism and Christianity are the only two religions I know in enough detail to have a good idea of the aesthetic, and Christianity is butt-ugly. Well, a Puritanish aesthetic works well outside of a religious context, and there are Leah-Libresco-like Catholics doing interesting stuff, but the New Testament itself is a terrible fanfic. There, I think everyone got their share of insults.)

So today’s thing is Rashi’s commentary on Exodus 30:17. It’s about the Lord telling Moses to make a washbasin for the Tabernacle.

How did Moses get enough bronze/copper/pick your favourite translation for that washbasin? Mirrors! Donated by Jewish women.

“Whoa there”, saith Moses. “They used those mirrors to make themselves pretty. Not okay to make sacred stuff from!” Saith the Lord: “Take a chill pill, Moses, the mirrors are cool.”

Now if you’ve got Christianity in your Judaism you’d probably expect a moral like “Turning away from vanity to holiness is awesomesauce, let’s embrace and praise those women, prodigal son, repenting sinner, yadda yadda”. Nope! Turns out the mirrors are acceptable because the women were using them to look hot – to their husbands, to have babies, because what with the constant genocide they needed repopulating. Noble purpose.

So the moral is that nothing is inherently good or bad. Even if you grant that sluttiness is bad (don’t grant that), “I wanna look hot and get laid!” is not inherently slutty; that depends on whether the motivation is “Our people needs more kids.” or “Sex is fun.”.

A close cousin is those stories about charitable interpretation, like “Don’t blame him for buying pork on Yom Kippur, maybe he has a pregnant wife who was craving it.”. Those ideas, combined with building fences around the Torah and distancing yourself from sin and all that, give you Postel superpowers.

My point is mostly “Neat, huh?”, but as a side note: That’s another reason why deontology sucks. If you’re a consequentialist, you care whether using those mirrors leads to more kids. If you’re a virtue ethicist (apparently the Lord is), you care whether they were motivated by vanity. Only a deontologist could get hung up on the mirrors themselves (doppelgangers notwithstanding). Zing.

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